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The industry taboo subject....."oh no he didnt"


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So I was pondering about fire and bridges and why we all love to watch someone else's burn but wouldn't admit we also carry matches. Yes this is all an analogy of speech but the start of a great discussion.

 

We all have as Spike put it, a biased input of the greatest school to go to when any unsuspecting newbie comes in and asks the question. Why not? We gave our money, earned our certs and are happy pilots so of course our school was the greatest!

 

The truth is not all schools can be, and not all are. So this leaves for discussion the things that can be quantified, qualified, and held accountable as such to say....this school has it ALL, and possibly a bag of chips.

 

Now to start a more dramatic approach, not one which I will add to, but to see who will strike that match so we can all be amused at whose bridge burns fastest! I know thats horrible...some probably scowled, some probably giggled, but this is a valid thought so read on.

 

Traditional wisdom and more traditional societal constraints tell us not to start problems...so I do not intend this to be one, but of an attempt at the darkside of the coins question.

 

What schools should we NOT go to?

 

Now those of us that have watched this industry long enough know schools come and go. There are the Silver States that make national news, and there are the ones noone ever knows about. We all got the same great advise when we inquired...."do your research and ask alot of questions".

 

So do we as responsible people just sit idly by and watch the unsuspecting spend their money, loose it all, and say "well thats rough buddy...its a hard industry". Do we say, " they should have done more research....poor bugger". Do we open up and share our experiences and try to sort bad apple school from washout pilot?

 

I have heard stories of those who have suffered in the ranks. So then lies the more intense question. Was the school sub par.....or was the pilot a washout? I dont know too many alpha personalities who would admit the latter...lol.

 

Aviation is a strange culture...I sorta like it that way. Is it worth the effort to expose the dark side of this coin or glue it to the flight line and enjoy the show of guys trying to pick it up?

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I come on here all the time and try to steer would-be pilots to great schools, or at least the best school that they are considering. If you look through and read the many many posts from potential pilots considering schools you'll find that VR is a pretty good place to start and has a great number of pilots who are happy to share their insight and opinions with others. I must admit, it would be easier if there was a post that was pinned to the top of the first page about what everyone agrees would be the best opportunities to up and coming pilots. Unfortunately not every new student visits VR or any other forum and simply walks down the road to Joe Shmoe's flight school without proper research first.

 

+A school that hires on their graduates: This is probably the biggest one for new pilots hoping to get into the industry and not end up washed out with 100K in debt and no career opportunities. Nothing breaks my heart more than getting phone calls from guys with 200 hours trying to find a school that will hire them.

 

+A school that utilizes both Robinson and Schweizer: Better to have flight time in both to ensure good experience and the SFAR endorsement to teach in the R22 and R44 with the ability to transition to a Schweizer school if needed when job hunting time occurs.

 

+A school that also has a 133 external lift operation, 135 tours or some other contract work where the student may be able to get a bit of flight experience outside of the teaching realm.

 

+A school with a turbine helicopter of some sort: Don't pay for a turbine transition, but if they have a turbine that a student could hop in (even backseat) and get a little bit of turbine time, is a great opportunity.

 

+ A school that will offer you a location that will help your career in the long run: For example, do you want to fly utility or fight forest fires? Find a school that will get you mountainous time. Want to fly tours in Alaska? Go to a flight school in Alaska and get experience in the area. New York tours? Try a flight school that you can get "river time" up and down the Hudson once in a while. Offshore time, busy class B airspace time, it all has it's benefits and drawbacks. Plan your career goals before you even choose a flight school. Not all schools are the same, you should use that to your advantage.

 

+Compare costs. Most flight schools are similar in cost for renting the ship and you won't see a whole lot of variation, however be aware of these costs because even if a school only charges $10 more per hour, it'll add up after 200+ flight hours and a few hundred ground instruction hours.

 

+Figure out the policies of the school when it comes to ground instruction. Some schools require minimum ground school hours for rating, so even studying your butt off in your own time can't save you a lot of money. On the flip side, if they only want you to be proficient enough to pass the written test and oral of the practical, you could study on your own time and save a lot in ground school costs.

 

+Check out their maintenance. Sure the website shows a picture that the school owns 15 helicopters, and after you sign on the dotted line you find out that most are down for an overhaul and the money for the overhaul kit isn't in the budget. And maybe the one mechanic that they have working for them doesn't have the funding to get the parts he needs, or is overworked and exhausted all the time.

 

+Make sure it's not a Pilot Mill. Some schools who over utilize the GI Bill will churn out pilots monthly with 200 hours in a Bell, say that they have a great graduation rate, and these students are never heard from again. Others teach the students to the bare minimum standards, just enough to get a rating and then release them into the industry without any experience applying their book-knowledge to the way industry actually works. Try to find a school where at least the chief pilot has time in the industry with some first hand knowledge, rather than a guy who got a CFI and opened a flight school with his rich buddy who doesn't know anything about helicopters.

 

I try not to push anyone toward a certain flight school, but I do try to steer them away from the obviously bad ones. I hope that everyone has an opportunity to live their dream if it's flying helicopters, even if it's only as a weekend warrior. However, flying is not for everyone, and I've seen students who have no business being in the helicopter. So choose your flight school wisely, visit VR a lot and ask lots of questions to find the one that's right for you; and once you're in flight school, judge your own abilities and be honest enough with yourself to walk away if it's simply not for you.

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Zippie,

 

 

+A school that hires on their graduates: All schools would be graded a "F" because no school can hire all of their CFI applicants. What constitutes a good school or bad school in this area?

+A school that utilizes both Robinson and Schweizer: Better to have flight time in both to ensure good experience and the SFAR endorsement to teach in the R22 and R44 with the ability to transition to a Schweizer school if needed when job hunting time occurs. How many schools would hire a CFI they did not train in Schweizers? Is it really an A+ school for having all three and a factor in deciding where to train or not?

+A school that also has a 133 external lift operation, 135 tours or some other contract work where the student may be able to get a bit of flight experience outside of the teaching realm. Most 133 ops will not provide flight time to pilots in training and in 135 ops only qualified PICs can touch the controls. If a school does not have 133/135 ops can it not be a A+ school? Would an entry level incoming pilot for training know what any of this means and how much opportunity will be provided for every students? What if the other guy got some of this and you did not?

+A school with a turbine helicopter of some sort: Don't pay for a turbine transition, but if they have a turbine that a student could hop in (even backseat) and get a little bit of turbine time, is a great opportunity. Again, if a school does not have an expensive turbine it is not A+? What will a few hours of back seat turbine time mean towards employment and an understanding of the industry?

+ A school that will offer you a location that will help your career in the long run: For example, do you want to fly utility or fight forest fires? Find a school that will get you mountainous time. These ops are world wide not just in the mountains! Want to fly tours in Alaska? Go to a flight school in Alaska and get experience in the area. How many flight schools are there in Alaska and how expensive is it to live there. Can you train year round in that environment? New York tours? Try a flight school that you can get "river time" up and down the Hudson once in a while. Really, what schools will give you training along the "River" and what does that meant career wise? Is this a reason to choose a flight school? If it is, on what level of importance? Offshore time, busy class B airspace time, it all has it's benefits and drawbacks. Plan your career goals before you even choose a flight school. How is an unaware, un-educated incoming pilot supposed to accomplish this? Not all schools are the same, you should use that to your advantage.

+Compare costs. Most flight schools are similar in cost for renting the ship and you won't see a whole lot of variation, however be aware of these costs because even if a school only charges $10 more per hour, it'll add up after 200+ flight hours and a few hundred ground instruction hours. Commitment to training three times a week will make a larger monetary difference than $10/hour.

+Figure out the policies of the school when it comes to ground instruction. Some schools require minimum ground school hours for rating, so even studying your butt off in your own time can't save you a lot of money, but it could increase your knowledge base and confidence. On the flip side, if they only want you to be proficient enough to pass the written test and oral of the practical, you could study on your own time and save a lot in ground school costs. It will still take time with a CFI to know that you are ready for endorsement for written and 8710.

+Check out their maintenance. Sure the website shows a picture that the school owns 15 helicopters, and after you sign on the dotted line (what are you signing?????) you find out that most are down for an overhaul and the money for the overhaul kit isn't in the budget. And maybe the one mechanic that they have working for them doesn't have the funding to get the parts he needs, or is overworked and exhausted all the time. Looking over the available aircraft and knowing how much they fly should be supported from the students on hand!

+Make sure it's not a Pilot Mill. What is a "Pilot Mill"?, a school with a lot of students? Bristow is a very large flight school with an excellent curriculum and 55+ helicopters. Some schools who over utilize the GI Bill will churn out pilots monthly with 200 hours in a Bell, say that they have a great graduation rate, and these students are never heard from again. Others teach the students to the bare minimum standards, (what schools teach far beyond the PTSs which are minimum Testing standards? - the schools that do are more expensive, correct? What incoming pilot can judge what training is beyond the minimum and decide to pay more for this training?) just enough to get a rating and then release them into the industry without any experience applying their book-knowledge to the way industry actually works (please name all of the schools you are aware of that do not release their graduates to the industry before educating them thoroughly about the entire helo industry). Try to find a school where at least the chief pilot has time in the industry with some first hand knowledge, rather than a guy who got a CFI and opened a flight school with his rich buddy who doesn't know anything about helicopters. Is this the only two options at flight schools?

I try not to push anyone toward a certain flight school, but I do try to steer them away from the obviously bad ones. Can you please name the ones that you steer incoming pilots away from or the ones you consider superior according to your listed grading system?

You made many good points but I believe this is info gained after we have attended a particular school, with the present CFI corps and post graduate needs. Two students could attend the same flight school, at the same time and grade it differently depending on the outcome which may or may not be a reflection on the quality of the school. Maybe one did get "River" time or hoped to but did not. Maybe one sat in the back of a turbine but the other pilot got hired as a CFI because he was just a better fit.

Good luck to all incoming pilots. Do your research and "Own" your training with commitment.

Mike

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Looks like there may be some B, C, and D schools out there?

 

1. Lures you in by telling you how important their turbune transition, nvg, and long line courses will be in you getting a job, would be a D school for me, because I can't trust them.

 

2. Training only in the R44 would be a C- school for me, because I will be less marketable

 

3. Hires ALL of their graduates would be a B-, because they can't ALL be that good, (personal experience with this one).

 

4. Big school (like Bristow) would be a B for me. They're so big the odds of getting hired right off the assembly line seems bleek (even if you are good). And I've heard more than once that pilots from these really big schools come away with really big egos.

 

5. Tells me I need to buy 100 hours in their specially modified R22 before they will hire me, is definitely a C- (not a D because, well they will still hire me).

 

6. If the school is honest about the job prospects (no pilot shortage bullshit) and what entry-level pilot's make (median income 90k,...my ass), doesn't push any so called "advanced training" on me (see #1), doesn't tell me how much more their graduates are sought after than everyone else. DOSEN'T PROMISE ME ANYTHING, and just does what a flight school is supposed to do; make me a pilot,...then I'd give them an A.

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Looks like alot of pilots ran out of beer tonight....hijacked my thread, lol. If ya need a happy hour, free beer at my house till 6!

 

I guess I should have opened with that...would have gotten alot more focused rants haha.

Edited by WolftalonID
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Looks like alot of pilots ran out of beer tonight....hijacked my thread, lol. If ya need a happy hour, free beer at my house till 6!

 

I guess I should have opened with that...would have gotten alot more focused rants haha.

 

You want someone to strike a match, fine! After watching that other threads video, I'd say, don't go to Upper Limit!

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I'm a student at Upper Limit and I 'm very happy with the training and customer service I have received. I certainly understand why people are upset about the commercial that was posted in the other thread, however I feel like they are taking heat because of some misinformation. I've seen them compared to silver state which took students money and closed without refunding it, and did not refund students money who quit or failed. At Upper limit the VA pays the community college which places the money on a debit card that the student can only use at Upper Limit. The student then pays for each flight AFTER it occurs. Also Upper limit does NOT put people through the entire program in a turbine. Their courses are designed to get you the R22 and R44 sfar before you get in a turbine. I recommend the school and would be happy to discuss my experience there one on one with any who would like to pm me. If anything happens to change my opinion I'll be sure to let you all know.

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You want someone to strike a match, fine! After watching that other threads video, I'd say, don't go to Upper Limit!

 

I went there for a part of training and it was a great place to study. Do I like what they are selling on there recent videos and post - NO. But they are a big school with lots of helicopters and mx on site kept me flying the whole time.

 

Be your own advocate. Don't let people take advantage of you. Talk to people who have gone through the training (not your cfi you are paying) and ask what time is valuable.

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Ya'll ever eat at Jimmy Johns ? well... they got this sign on the wall. The sign has a bunch of good 'ole down home dirt simple sayings on it. One of them goes something like this -

 

"If your lunch date isn't nice to the waiter then they are not a nice person."

 

Translation - "I know UL puts out BS videos but they are good to me !"

 

You don't have to be a grizzled veteran to use logic and common sense and POST #8 couldn't be any more on the money !

 

Speaking of money -

 

"If the school is honest about the job prospects (no pilot shortage bullshit) and what entry-level pilot's make "

 

I was lucky enough to get a job flying piston engine tours. My stepdaughter makes more money working at Walmart.

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Well thanks for taking a blind jump there on what it meant to strike a match. That wasnt exactly what I was looking for as a discussion amongst professionals that could lead to some wisdom for those who are still doing their research.

 

We cant go shafting a school over an advertising campaign, especially if there has been no first hand experience to validate the shafting. I am not looking for imature finger pointing, or unvalidated reports.

 

Those who have been there, experienced it, and learned from it, thats what I would like to see. I did my due diligence, researched, visited, spoke with past and current students, and those who are in the industry. I knew I was crazy, so telling me that didnt count. I have already been there, done that, and was/am happy I actually took time to investigate where to drop 100k into my life investment.

 

I know I am crazy like the rest of you...but there are those out there that still need some advise. For those who come here...they get tons. The best part, I hope to achieve what i have to some extent via PM, openly here for others.

 

Discussion to hold onto of the bad apples, so we can help steer the industry clear of them, and pass on that fire awareness to those who dont want to burn in it.

 

Many have heard of the horrors and devistation that Silver State did for the industry. Funny one of my local DPE's graduated from them.

Recently we have begun to see open discussions over actions of the SRT owner and his fun in court.

 

Again, washouts always tend to badmouth the school they couldnt hack...but legit issues with actual first hand examples are good to discuss.

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It sucks to have to pay your dues. One of the biggest problems with our industry that also applies to many others is that it attracts people who are passionate about what they want to do. The hiring authorities know that full well and take every advantage of it. The best jobs are the ones you love so much you would do them for free. But how many wage earners can afford to take full time jobs that don't pay ?

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There's just no pleasing you is there! :D Ok. how about this?

 

Back when I was doing my commercial training, I flew with this chick who on more than one occasion said to me as she climbed into the 22, "So what do you want to do today?" Unprepared CFI, not a good sign! 12 hours later she tells me there's nothing left to do, I'm ready. A few days later she says, "You need 4 more lessons" I went from ready to go, to 4 more lessons, what the f**k! And why 4, that seems an odd number to just suddenly pull out?,...short on rent or something! Needless to say I didn't continue there!

 

I'd name the school, but they no longer exist!

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There's just no pleasing you is there! :D Ok. how about this?

 

Back when I was doing my commercial training, I flew with this chick who on more than one occasion said to me as she climbed into the 22, "So what do you want to do today?" Unprepared CFI, not a good sign! 12 hours later she tells me there's nothing left to do, I'm ready. A few days later she says, "You need 4 more lessons" I went from ready to go, to 4 more lessons, what the f*ck! And why 4, that seems an odd number to just suddenly pull out?,...short on rent or something! Needless to say I didn't continue there!

 

I'd name the school, but they no longer exist!

 

P47,

 

You did not own your training, preview the syllabus and know what lesson you were on and what was next!

 

This is not entirely your fault. How are pilots in training supposed to know how to own their training?

 

Well, first off, sit and talk with a Director of Admissions, Director of Training, Chief Pilot, Asst. Chief Pilot, Lead CFI, etc.

 

Have them explain how the training will progress, both ground and flight, from a published syllabus. Then it is the pilot in training's responsibility to monitor and follow the program and make sure they are prepared for every lesson and get a collaborative debrief after every lesson.

 

This will make your exact position in the program crystal clear and allow you to relive/review the current lesson, know that you accomplished the lesson objectives or not, and prepare for the next lesson. "Owning your training"

 

P47, this is written to bring forward to everyone how to "Own your training" and not directed towards you in particular. Good training programs are easily recognized from the get go or not. The "What do you want to do today" lesson should never take place! The pilot in training should always know before hand what the next lesson will be comprised of, both from the established syllabus and the collaborative debrief.

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1 - Well thanks for taking a blind jump there on what it meant to strike a match. That wasnt exactly what I was looking for as a discussion amongst professionals that could lead to some wisdom for those who are still doing their research.

 

2 - We cant go shafting a school over an advertising campaign, especially if there has been no first hand experience to validate the shafting. I am not looking for imature finger pointing, or unvalidated reports.

 

1 - When Pilot 476398 said there is no pleasing you... no kidding ! You asked to out the bad apples then... complain ?

 

2 - WE didn't shaft nothing, no one here held a gun to their head. THEY shafted themselves.

 

Horrible spelling aside from someone wanting "professionalism" there is plenty of good wisdom in this thread. You asked for people to give and they gave. If you wanted it to be given in a very specific fashion then you need to declare that specifically (not a rambling speech filled with metaphors and similes). The failure is with your request.

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Don't be too hard on the guy. What he wants is first hand experience with rotten schools. I don't think he's going to find it. Nobody wants to burn bridges in a career field as difficult to succeed in as this one!

 

There may be some bad instructors out there, or chief pilots who are really a bitch, but they eventually get replaced, and their behavior doesn't nessesarily mean the school's no good.

 

Even Upper Limit with their rotten sales pitch, it doesn't mean the training will suck! It just reaffirms the fact that flights schools are a business, and that business is to make pilots, nothing more! When this current VA cash cow dries up, schools will just find the next one to market to.

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Well, at least I know these things about failure and sucess alike. Neither are a permanent status one has achieved!

 

As far as spelin goooes...( ;) ) The last time I looked at the FAR's a US certified pilot was only asked to confirm they could speak and read english.

 

So there we go, a school that also helps us improve our grammar! That would move it from the C rating to an A+ rating right? Lol.

I am thick skinned so no worries on how hard they wish to get...take a close look at my avitar, its always happy!

I find this industry rather entertaining to observe from a psychology perspective. I understand the fear factor the average human has in the perceived danger of ratting out the bad apples in any job, family, gang, etc. This industry though, takes it further and fears the repercussion of potential perceived networks that don't exist.

 

I like how several examples have specified how their training or experience was flawed. We have plenty of threads and discussions on positive role models of schools and instructors.

 

If you spend any length of time in study of aviation accidents, the N.T.S.B. Has compiled reports for review. We often have new rules, regs, and practices developed from the study of things gone bad. Take todays development of CRM taught in almost every flight school. Developed by NASA as a result of studies of bad days in the air, specifically flight 401 that crashed into the everglades of Florida.

 

One major event that happened in history was specifically from those who took it upon themselves to speak out against what was not right, it did start a war, but because they did what they did, I can today call myself an American, not a subject of the crown. I guess that example isn't clearing up good from bad as politics are a whole evil unto themselves. So aside from that tangent....

 

We should be willing to open up about specific examples of both schools, and instruction techniques that DO NOT achieve positive, successful, safe pilot practices. We need to look at this as what we can accomplish, not as to what could ruin us. The analogy was meant more to lighten the mind from a perceived burden.

 

Schools that refuse to do say, stuck pedal recovery training because its too dangerous, or advanced scenario autos for CFI students. Instructors or schools that allow instructors to perform unsafe flight conditions when no one is looking to show off for a prospecting or training student.

Schools that want their pilots to perform flight contrary to POH or factory recommendations. A&P's not properly doing required maintenance, or chief pilots allowing documentation to slide. We have seen public record in the news about Hillsboro Aviation being fined by the FAA over that issue and its been resolved! It took people speaking out and we saw positive change.

We have seen public record of SRT owner going to jail trying to lie to a judge with false military records about his fake quals, instructors ripped off from his lack of business etiquette. We have seen publicly a school, Silver State, taken apart legally from ripping off banks, students, and the industry overall.

 

Yes we have discussed great advertising that seems to lead where no path actually goes. What am I wanting? Well I sit here calm, collected, with a smile on my face, not complaining, trying to spell as best a redneck ever will, and ask......what examples of bad do you have to share to prevent others from burning.

We can contribute or we can talk sh*t about those trying to contribute. I don't come here to make friends. I come here to enjoy and learn from those that are willing to contribute to my success and those like me who also are chasing their own success. This way I too can earn the wisdom to pass along. This allows the industry to grow, evolve, and mature......or we can warlord over it....to each their own I guess.

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Whether or not a school provides “sub-par” service, it must be considered biased. Why? Because one never knows what the real motivation is behind the opinion. However, one can provide a perspective by asking questions and/or providing insight, or options, which can bring out, or expose the bogus practices. This can subsequently lead to a “eureka” moment for the reader. In short, you paint the big-picture without you in it and let the reader decide for themselves…….

 

Furthermore, it’s pretty much a CFI’s job to draw perspective students in, regardless of the quality of instruction provided. Even with this being said, CFI’s who were hired at the same school where they trained obviously have a limited “frame of reference”. For those CFI’s who trained at one school, but were hired at another, will have a somewhat wider/different frame of reference but it’s still “limited”. Either way, the school where the CFI is currently employed, will be advertised on the internet as the “best school” and thus my warning about being “biased”….. And yes, SSH instructors were vehemently adamant that they were employed at an A+ school…….

 

For the most part, deciding what school is an A+ school is up to the individual student and it’s far too easy to rationalize what makes a good school, but again, what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander…..

 

In the end, it's about, asking the right questions and not about making statements…..

Edited by Spike
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With no respect to my previous post, I’ll give you my opinion of a good school..

 

Me as the Director of Operations. Nearly Retired as the Chief Pilot. Avbug as the company Check Pilot. iChirs as the Chief Flight Instructor and Mikemv as the DPE……. 2 R22’s, 2 S300’s, 1 206 and 1 500. Graduates after teaching would be streamlined into legit commercial gigs at the 500-700 hour range…. And, only the best-of-the-best graduates will be hired as CFI’s……

 

Any questions?

Edited by Spike
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