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I'm looking into a couple local VA approved FW schools in order to get my airplane ratings up through CFI/CFII. As a former army helicopter pilot I'm thinking of persuading the school to allow me to skip ahead to the FW Commercial add on (skipping the Private and Instrument classes). I don't really need the extra flight hours, just want to get the commercial ASAP and move on to CFI. I have the full 4 years of GI Bill coming to me but I want to save some for an MBA later.

 

Also, when doing FW instrument training, is it similar to flight school where you fly by hand or can the school use autopilot equipped/GNS430 (or other GPS) aircraft which eases the workload? Are there any must-haves or nice-to-haves when it comes to selecting which airplane you want to train in? I'm equidistant between 2 schools so I have some options as to which aircraft to pick from, which school is more veteran friendly, which instructors are cooler, etc.

 

Anyone have some insights or been in this situation before?

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I've been teaching airplanes to a good handful of experienced Army helicopter pilots over the last six months. First things first - they make the best students - they already know how to navigate, talk on the radio, and study. Most of them have started soloing by their 4th hour and take their (private) checkride before their 25th hour.

 

That being said, even though you have the option of going straight to commercial, I would actually recommend getting the private first. First of all, the commercial maneuvers aren't easy for a new airplane pilot. Secondly, unless you plan on doing a joint instrument-commercial checkride, you will come out with a restricted commercial license since you won't have your instrument rating. Thirdly, 50 hours of PIC airplane is a lot of solo time; whereas it wouldn't have to be solo if you get the private rating first.

 

For all of your checkrides, you will be required to know how to use all of the equipment on board the aircraft, to include the auto-pilot. For the instrument rating, the examiner has the choice of requiring you to do at least one approach using the auto-pilot. On my ASEL CFII (add-on) checkride, the examiner had me shoot one of the three approaches with the autopilot and on the ASEL ATP checkride, he had me shoot two of the four approaches with the autopilot. However, for the "visual" (a.k.a. private/commercial) maneuvers, unlike the UH-60M course at Rucker, there is an expectation that you hand-fly all of the maneuvers.

 

I hope that answered your questions, but if you need me to clarify anything, let me know.

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Thanks Boot. Sounds like I should do the private on my own dime, since it's only 25 or so hours. That's a lot faster than a full semester and would save a lot of GI Bill money for something more expensive down the road. I'm assuming the school will give me credit for all the classes (weather, ATC, etc) up through the instructor stuff based on my previous training.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll point out some VA stuff. First if you have the GI Bill use it!

 

1) Gi Bill won't pay for Private; unless it's part of a degree (and part 141) program. If you find a degree program, do it! It pays 100% of flight fees, plus tuition, plus BAH.

 

2) You can use the Vocational GI Bill, for up to $15,000 annually. But it will not cover Private, and it doesn't go very far. Instrument alone will kill this for a year.

 

3) I'm going to disagree with Bootcamp on the Private first part. Mostly because any Commercial flying will be at least partially covered by the GI Bill. Plus checkrides are expensive and Private won't be repaid.

 

Mostly this comes down to how you want to work your GI Bill and best implement it. If you can use the degree program.

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In my case there are 2 local colleges with AS degrees for fixed wing. I hadn't really considered doing it because they're community colleges, but after some research it seemed like a pretty good way to get some airplane experience and pad my resume while using my ill gotten GI Bill benefits.

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Yeah, if they are degree programs you might as well do the private first. It will be fast, and let you exercise your privileges sooner.

 

The only caveat is the school will probably make you take the full classes. I.e. Semester 1 - Private, Semester 2-Instrument, etc.

 

That might hold up your progress since the class is required for Part 141 at a college. So you *might* have to wait a bit to move on.

 

///EDIT/// It might make more sense to just jump into Instrument and Commercial. So you won't waste any time getting to CFI by having to wait for each semester.

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Yeah I was thinking that a full semester for Private was a bit long, so I may just pay for it myself to speed things along. Now if it makes more sense to jump ahead to a FW commercial add on paid for by GI Bill then I'll try that. The schools both seem to have commercial taking 2 semesters, which seems a bit long but that's probably because it takes that long to accrue enough hours for the commercial checkride. Is it possible to take CFI and CFII the same semester or must they be done sequentially?

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Regarding the Private, I wouldn't pay out of pocket, unless you really want the privileges sooner.

 

Talk to both Chief Flight Instructors, ask what they have in the Approved TCOs. You're getting into the nitty gritty of the TCO wording and what the school will certify.

 

For the FAA you have to have CFI first (obviously), regarding the class portion it's totally up to the school and staff.

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I pushed my Commercial rotor privileges into my degree program, to knock out the private/get the credits. This saved me an entire year. (They have the private broken into two flight/ground portions...). I also talked extensively with the Department head, chief pilot, and ass dean prior to doing anything.

 

The biggest surprise to me was that they wanted me to do instrument before commercial, because that's the normal route for them. (Private, instrument, commercial, CFI). Even after explaining I had 0.0 in airplane... So, yeah.

 

Thing about the GI bill is you're not necessarily "saving" any of it, for later. Unless you're there for a lesser amount of months/semesters, which you'll have to plan for. (Like, if you just did 12 credits/semester as full time instead of 15, you'll end up needing more time, because it takes too many months, but pays the same.) For my school, summer session courses pay dividends because they're completed in less months...

 

 

Anyway, as usual, your mileage may vary. TALK TO THE SCHOOL/VA REP. You need to find a combination of what works best for you, and a school that lets you do that. You may have explaining to do when they don't understand your experience, or how to get you your add-ons.

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Thing about the GI bill is you're not necessarily "saving" any of it, for later. Unless you're there for a lesser amount of months/semesters, which you'll have to plan for. (Like, if you just did 12 credits/semester as full time instead of 15, you'll end up needing more time, because it takes too many months, but pays the same.) For my school, summer session courses pay dividends because they're completed in less months...

 

 

Can you explain what you mean by this?

Is the GI Bill expended (paid out) by the month i.e. if you start with 36 months and take a 2 month course you have 34 months remaining?

 

Thanks for the info.

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Just do the add on commercial, there is no point to doing a private first, gees you get to pay for two check rides that is about what it comes too! Out side of lazy Eights, chandelles and spot landings there is no real difference, a little tighter airspeed and heading control and a steep bank Angle for steep turns 60 vs 45 deg and that is about it! You are going to have to take the ride in a complex airplane, ( a piper arrow meets the requirement, and if you fly one with 200 hp its also high performance) or you will have to get an endorsement later, a multiengine rating will do the same thing! Then go and do the instrument rating, should not take to long, I did the opposite I when from airplanes to helicopters- did the commercial add on then the rest of it! Not hard, you should not have any problem!

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Just do the add on commercial, there is no point to doing a private first, gees you get to pay for two check rides that is about what it comes too! Out side of lazy Eights, chandelles and spot landings there is no real difference, a little tighter airspeed and heading control and a steep bank Angle for steep turns 60 vs 45 deg and that is about it! You are going to have to take the ride in a complex airplane, ( a piper arrow meets the requirement, and if you fly one with 200 hp its also high performance) or you will have to get an endorsement later, a multiengine rating will do the same thing! Then go and do the instrument rating, should not take to long, I did the opposite I when from airplanes to helicopters- did the commercial add on then the rest of it! Not hard, you should not have any problem!

An arrow will not get you a high performance endorsement, must be greater than 200hp. Even a light twin with 320hp total still doesn't qaulify as high performance to the faa. Must be greater than 200 a side.

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Gee when did they change that, when I did my commerical, the school had a Arrow with a 180 hp engine in it, they got one with a 200 hp to satisfy the requirement at the time, didn't matter to me since I did my mulitengine rating in a Piper Aztec, 250 hp per side! Of course that was 40 + years ago, you could actual read the FARs then and even understand what the reg was saying, now its a huge mess and getting worst each year! I am glad I am going into the twilight, they demand to much for very little reward these days!

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Can you explain what you mean by this?

Is the GI Bill expended (paid out) by the month i.e. if you start with 36 months and take a 2 month course you have 34 months remaining?

 

Thanks for the info.

 

Assuming it's via a university, that's correct.

 

If you go to a non-degree 141 school, you're only going to get ~10,000 per course/per year. It doesn't pay very well, compared to taking "classes".

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