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Hello!

 

I haven't posted on here for a while but just to remind you, I am an aspiring helicopter pilot (26 y/o) whom is currently at the saving money for flight training/researching anything and everything helicopters stage. I want to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible before I embark on this adventure. So with that being said...

 

I have general knowledge about some of the interesting jobs that may be available to me one day, jobs like instructing, tours, EMS for example. However, one type job that I've been struggling to find information on, search & rescue, is the one that interests me the most!

 

Are all of these SAR jobs really only available to ex military/reserve pilots? I know some of them definitely are, such as the U.S. Coast Guard but are there similar positions that accept civilian pilots with the right experience? What kind of experience would they be looking for?

 

For example I know that Bristow pretty much run SAR in the UK and it sort of mentions on their website that they have a mix of civilian/ex-mil pilots flying their helicopters.

 

Further on to Bristow UK SAR, should I really be going to Bristow flight academy if I ever want a shot at being a SAR pilot with them in the future or does it not work that way?

 

Also, are the SAR pilots flying over water and winching stranded people from the seas different than the pilots performing rescues over mountains or remote areas or is this all the same job?

 

I realise there are about 100 questions in this post so I appreciate any number of answers plus whatever advice anyone has to offer, cheers! :)

 

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Are you a citizen of the commonwealth?

 

To set yourself up for the best shot at civil (offshore) SAR, you'll need both excellent IFR skills (i.e.: experience, and in mediums/heavys) and utility skills (external load, preferable vertical reference and short haul). This will likely take you quite some time, as once you get experience in the one, you'll almost need to start over to get experience in the other. There may be a few companies that have their toes in both sectors, but it's becoming increasingly rare. Plus, they'll probably be reluctant to let a good IFR guy learn how to sling, and vice versa.

 

If you get those skills, then go work for the company that has the contracts you want and try to get onto the SAR contract from within once a slot opens up, unless you have great timing and slide into an open SAR slot. Don't worry about working for them until then.

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Coast Guard is about your only bet for offshore SAR here in the States, Alaska would be a good place to start.

 

In reality, not many people are out there getting "lost" all the time to justify a complete business just for SAR. Most rescues are done either by a local Law/Fire agency or a local utility/135 operator.

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Are you a citizen of the commonwealth?

 

I hope to start my flying career in the USA (FAA) as the cost to obtain licenses in the UK is exorbitant but I would have the option to come back and work in the UK if I wanted to. Basically, I can work in either country indefinitely.

 

I don't expect you to list all the companies that have SAR contracts but please could you give me a couple examples? I may be able to find more information this way.

 

In reality, not many people are out there getting "lost" all the time to justify a complete business just for SAR. Most rescues are done either by a local Law/Fire agency or a local utility/135 operator.

 

 

Yeah, I understand. When you say fire agency are you talking about fire departments?

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Yeah, I understand. When you say fire agency are you talking about fire departments?

 

Yes. LA County, CalFire, CHP (highway patrol)...etc...

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There are a few, very few, US companies with SAR contracts (I can't even remember the name of the 2nd one that was up here, and I think they might've been Canadian). By the time you get there, they'll likely be different ones. Mostly you'd be doing simple medevac work.

 

All SAR in Alaska is done by public agencies. The closest thing on the civil side would be Temsco's contract with the Denali park rangers, and the seemingly regular, too regular, ad hoc crash rescue they do. Two helicopter crashes in Southeast AK in two days last week, one fatal.

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Thanks for the info! Wish I went down the military route when I had the chance but sounds like there's still opportunities, albeit limited. And there's always EMS.

 

I'm just really into the rescue stuff because it's what I do now (in a different role).

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Thanks for the info! Wish I went down the military route when I had the chance but sounds like there's still opportunities, albeit limited. And there's always EMS.

 

I'm just really into the rescue stuff because it's what I do now (in a different role).

HAA/EMS is a transport role and not a rescue role.

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Yes. LA County, CalFire, CHP (highway patrol)...etc...

LA County Fire- Hires civilian experienced helo pilots, makes them sworn firemen and they fly rescue. Most start at 5000 or more hours with a lot of bigger metal experience.....Hueys and Blackhawks would help. They fly 412's and Firehawks with a lot of new emphasis on the BlackHawk/FireHawk airframe.

 

LA City Fire- First you have to be an LAFD fireman, wait 5 years then apply to move over to AirOps. You don't need a lot of time, I've known a few at 250 hours. Start flying the 206 on air recon missions, then move into the 412, then the 139's.

 

CalFire- Hires civilian experienced pilots. Long line and Huey time is good. About 4000 hours is a good starting place. Maybe 3000 if you know people.

 

OCFD- Flies Hueys, civilian trained pilots, long line and 3000 or 4000 hours would be a good start.

 

Right now LAFD, OCFD are looking for pilots with a lot of slots to fill.

 

LA Sheriff and LAPD both require you are sworn patrol first, then migrate over to aero units....Sheriff is 5 years min of patrol duty, dunno about LAPD mins. Sheriff only needs a PPLH to start.

 

Goldy

Edited by Goldy
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Some great info here!

 

So say I start flight training next year at the age of 27 and then my first proper flying job at 28-29 what are my chances of actually making it to a top-tier SAR/EMS job? Obviously assuming there are no hiccups along the way...

 

And this may sound silly but one of my greatest concerns about getting into this industry is drones. Do I need to worry about them taking over all the flying jobs or would that be unlikely to happen in my prospective career span?

 

Thanks again everyone!

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