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Hello, everyone! I'm new to the site so apologies if this has already been covered somewhere, if it is, I wasn't able to find it.

 

A little bit of backstory: I've been wanting to become a pilot for awhile but have been waiting until I had enough funds to get through my PPL relatively quick. My end game is to become a commercial pilot and while I am well aware of the cost and time investments involved it is the location of my school/training facility I'm inquiring about. I hail from South Florida but am interested in flying for the working abroad opportunities.

 

I was told by another helicopter pilot I had met that the biggest disservice I could do myself was learn to fly on flat land. I have looked into going to CO/AZ/WA for schooling but noticed that in order to take the High Alt/Mnt course I would need to already hold my PPL; Additionaly the schools I was looking at informed me they would not consider training anyone on this course with less than 500 hours already. This information makes me think it would be smarter to stick with my current job while working towards my PPL at a local school (Pelican, Helicopter Academy, Florida Helicopters, etc.). My concern is that having my starting hours on "flat land" will negatively affect my chances at an international job. Would it be better for my future in flight to get my PPL in a more mountainous state even though they won't be considered High Alt/Mnt hours until after the add-on course? Or does it even make a difference?

 

Sorry for the wall of text but any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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It's a sells gimmick to bring you to their school "WE TRAIN HIGH ALTITUDE". Save your money and stay closer to home rather than incur the cost of moving and being jobless while going to school. I trained in the rockies and it taught me discipline but never got me jobs or made me stand out that I would get hired over another pilot.

As an experienced pilot you can learn to fly into the conditions of higher altitude. No need to go to a flight school in the 2500 to 5500 feet MSL range that is claiming this miraculous "mountain time". There are courses out there that do offer real mountain courses in turbine helicopters that would be great but at some point in your career you'll find your way into a higher altitude at some point rather than paying for it.

Learning at sea level in a underpowered piston helicopter in my opinion is just like operating at altitude in a turbine helicopter anyways. (you'll learn power discipline and by the time your seasoned you'll know how to read the winds and apply common sense).

This industry is plagued with gimmicks to make you better or stand out, only because there are so many people in the market willing to pay to get the "experience" to "stand out". We have a flooded industry of people wanting to do this job that people will fight tooth and nail to get in. Pick your school wisely and look for opportunities to work within the flight school you go to when you graduate- it's not a given position- it's an interview from day one. The odds are against you given how flooded it is- personality and skill sets you bring to the table outside aviation may be your stand out qualities that make you the instructor they are looking for once you finish flight school.

Edited by Retreating Brain Stall
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You're in Florida? Go with Boatpix, then tuna boats (the chief at Hansen told me he likes Boatpix pilots). That's what I'd do if I were younger and had someone else's body.

 

Screw the mountains!

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I guess I'll be the lone voice in the distance here. If you are going to pay to train anyway, why not do it at one of the higher altitude schools? I can think of one outside of Denver and another in the altitude of Arizona. Every take off and landing is over 5000 DA (to do a factory ferry flight in a Robinson requires 10 T/O and landings over 5000 DA...there is a reason for that).

 

Sea level makes pilots power management lazy at best...I know I've flown (mostly) there for 30 years now.

 

Whatever you do, fly safe and good luck.

 

Goldy

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I concur with RBS’s assessment. The second assessment, not so much…..

 

However, while you mention your awareness about the time and cost investment, you do not mention the CFI. Understand, you’ll need to get the CFI (and CFII) to be marketable, ala competitive with other low-time pilots for the entry level positions. And, while not impossible, finding a job with just a commercial certificate is the closest you will get to impossible; next to not having a pilot’s certificate at all…. Therefore; go to a flight school where you have the best chances of being hired as a CFI…….

 

It should going something like this; Private Certificate, Instrument rating, Commercial Certificate, Certified Flight Instructor Certificate, Certified Flight Instructor Instrument rating..... 200 Hours R22/R44….. Roughly 80-100K.

 

Is this how you estimated it?

Edited by Spike
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First of all, thanks so much to everyone who's taken the time to respond so far! Sorry that my responses are out of order, I'm new to utilizing MultiQuote.

I concur with RBS’s assessment. The second assessment, not so much…..

 

However, while you mention your awareness about the time and cost investment, you do not mention the CFI. Understand, you’ll need to get the CFI (and CFII) to be marketable, ala competitive with other low-time pilots for the entry level positions. And, while not impossible, finding a job with just a commercial certificate is the closest you will get to impossible; next to not having a pilot’s certificate at all…. Therefore; go to a flight school where you have the best chances of being hired as a CFI…….

 

It should going something like this; Private Certificate, Instrument rating, Commercial Certificate, Certified Flight Instructor Certificate, Certified Flight Instructor Instrument rating..... 200 Hours R22/R44….. Roughly 80-100K.

 

Is this how you estimated it?

 

I have read plenty on the forums of the importance of a CFI and CFII in order to be marketable and that is indeed also on my to-do list. The estimate is also fairly accurate to mine, according to the schools I've been researching, since I do not at all expect to obtain my Cert's within the "minimum requirements" most schools seem to provide their Program Cost lists for. However, one of the schools I'm looking at is Helicopter Academy. From what I've been researching, they do guarantee their pilots with jobs once they hit the 300 hour mark, though I haven't personally spoken with any pilots who went this route.

 

I guess I'll be the lone voice in the distance here. If you are going to pay to train anyway, why not do it at one of the higher altitude schools? I can think of one outside of Denver and another in the altitude of Arizona. Every take off and landing is over 5000 DA (to do a factory ferry flight in a Robinson requires 10 T/O and landings over 5000 DA...there is a reason for that).

 

Sea level makes pilots power management lazy at best...I know I've flown (mostly) there for 30 years now.

 

Whatever you do, fly safe and good luck.

 

Goldy

Thanks for the insight! My main reason for not jumping on training at a high alt school is because the cost of relocation, increased living expenses (I have a pretty sweet/cheap arrangement currently), and the added stress/costs of living while job searching in the meantime will seriously cut into my savings for these plans. I have a great job and benefits at the moment and while I would rather not sacrifice my guaranteed income which will help me afford future hours, I'd consider it if the perks outweighed everything else (but that doesn't seem to be the case so far).

 

It's a sells gimmick to bring you to their school "WE TRAIN HIGH ALTITUDE". Save your money and stay closer to home rather than incur the cost of moving and being jobless while going to school. I trained in the rockies and it taught me discipline but never got me jobs or made me stand out that I would get hired over another pilot.

As an experienced pilot you can learn to fly into the conditions of higher altitude. No need to go to a flight school in the 2500 to 5500 feet MSL range that is claiming this miraculous "mountain time". There are courses out there that do offer real mountain courses in turbine helicopters that would be great but at some point in your career you'll find your way into a higher altitude at some point rather than paying for it.

Learning at sea level in a underpowered piston helicopter in my opinion is just like operating at altitude in a turbine helicopter anyways. (you'll learn power discipline and by the time your seasoned you'll know how to read the winds and apply common sense).

This industry is plagued with gimmicks to make you better or stand out, only because there are so many people in the market willing to pay to get the "experience" to "stand out". We have a flooded industry of people wanting to do this job that people will fight tooth and nail to get in. Pick your school wisely and look for opportunities to work within the flight school you go to when you graduate- it's not a given position- it's an interview from day one. The odds are against you given how flooded it is- personality and skill sets you bring to the table outside aviation may be your stand out qualities that make you the instructor they are looking for once you finish flight school.

 

I'm so glad you responded! One of the schools I was looking into relocating for was in the Rockies (Heli-Op) so your input is especially valuable as far as employment after training goes. I would have indeed been one of those paying for the "experience to stand out" as you so eloquently put it. The interview from day one comment is semi-worrying because I have a more alternative appearance to professional one. Lucky for me, my current employer is Equal Opportunity and I am generally complimented on my "award winning personality", so hopefully that will work out in my favor.

You're in Florida? Go with Boatpix, then tuna boats (the chief at Hansen told me he likes Boatpix pilots). That's what I'd do if I were younger and had someone else's body.

Screw the mountains!

Hahah, I love the mountains! However I love the ocean just as much! You're the second person I've seen on here raving about Boatpix and while I was curious what my "in" would be for that, I just recently discovered that one of the main schools I was looking into is the right one for it! Thanks for the reassurance. ^.^

 

Thanks again to everyone who has responded! I feel much more confident in my decision to stay put until I obtain the certifications necessary to take on the industry. How lucky/blessed I am to be situated in an area with so many opportunities in the field.

Fly safe, everyone!

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...(to do a factory ferry flight in a Robinson requires 10 T/O and landings over 5000 DA...there is a reason for that).

 

 

During my time-building days I took a 44 up to the mountains for that very reason,...just another line on the resume I guess.
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To be honest Colorado Heli-Ops is an exceptional company and reputable. I do not know them personally but what I have read and see they appear to be what our industry needs to be turning out good pilots.

In your case it may not make sense to relocate given what you have spelled out. If you were going to relocate they are a great that would probably be high on the list.

Also being in Florida you have a flood of choices but need to find the one that will work for you. (You might need to keep the living arrangement you have even after finishing school as a new CFI going into the top ramen years).
​Just remember, no one can truly promise you a job upon completion. That gimmick has never gone away, nor will it. I was hired by mine fortunately but was given little chicken bones and couldn't make ends meet, so I fired them and luckily went to work for another school just by dumb luck timing.

Edited by Retreating Brain Stall
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I wouldn't spend ANY extra money for high altitude/mountain training at the private level. Your plate's going to be full acquiring basic skills and knowledge. That said, you DO want serious performance planning included as regular part of your pre-flight routine. Get in the habit of knowing performance limitations, weight and balance, and fuel planning from the get-go. It doesn't matter if it's very basic stuff, the habit will be set that will pay off when you decide where you want to go next... at 500, 1000 or 1500 hours.

Back to the point, private pilot from zero to check ride will be expensive enough monetarily and intellectually without unnecessary extra load, so skip it, look for reliable schools and instructors. (The military seems to agree, their flight schools are at sea level.)

Every pound in the fuel tank I don't need means the aircraft is slower and can carry less PAYLOAD. I hate working pilots who carry 'comfort' fuel and leave me heavy...

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I hate to burst some inflated bubbles....but the one main reason I was hired at my job....besides my resume, and reputation, was because I trained at higher alitudes and can fly them safely. So to answer your concern, yes, some employers do understand the value of that experience.

 

I have also trained pilots from sea level schools in high altitude environments. Every single one of them struggle with power management, and usually freeze up on their approaches, autorotations, and response times because they just cant judge how fast things happen in thin air. They do eventually adapt, but it takes many hours of training to get them to where they need to be to handle it safely.

 

Flying in a mountainous area at higher elevations does wonders for your skill set and speed of reaction to weird things that happen when your flying in thin air.

Edited by WolftalonID
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This

 

 

-or-

 

 

This

 

 

Incidentally, I may not like the mountains, but when the fog rolls over them like a waterfall it is pretty cool. :)

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I wouldn't spend ANY extra money for high altitude/mountain training at the private level. Your plate's going to be full acquiring basic skills and knowledge. That said, you DO want serious performance planning included as regular part of your pre-flight routine. Get in the habit of knowing performance limitations, weight and balance, and fuel planning from the get-go. It doesn't matter if it's very basic stuff, the habit will be set that will pay off when you decide where you want to go next... at 500, 1000 or 1500 hours.

Back to the point, private pilot from zero to check ride will be expensive enough monetarily and intellectually without unnecessary extra load, so skip it, look for reliable schools and instructors. (The military seems to agree, their flight schools are at sea level.)

Every pound in the fuel tank I don't need means the aircraft is slower and can carry less PAYLOAD. I hate working pilots who carry 'comfort' fuel and leave me heavy...

 

Thanks for the input, I was unaware that the military's flight schools were at sea level. I had tried the military route when I was younger (as a warrant officer) but they wouldn't have me. I'll keep those habits in mind when I start training.

 

I hate to burst some inflated bubbles....but the one main reason I was hired at my job....besides my resume, and reputation, was because I trained at higher alitudes and can fly them safely. So to answer your concern, yes, some employers do understand the value of that experience.

 

I have also trained pilots from sea level schools in high altitude environments. Every single one of them struggle with power management, and usually freeze up on their approaches, autorotations, and response times because they just cant judge how fast things happen in thin air. They do eventually adapt, but it takes many hours of training to get them to where they need to be to handle it safely.

 

Flying in a mountainous area at higher elevations does wonders for your skill set and speed of reaction to weird things that happen when your flying in thin air.

I appreciate your view on this. I've been hearing/reading plenty about pilots who learn at sea level being "power management lazy" (thanks for that Goldy). Aside from actually learning in high altitude environment, can you offer any advice that could help me avoid being one of those pilots? While I do eventually intend on relocating to one of the states mentioned in my original post, I'm putting it off until my savings account is a bit more stocked.

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Aside from actually learning in high altitude environment, can you offer any advice that could help me avoid being one of those pilots?

 

"Hover power is takeoff power." When you're in a hover, and pointed into the wind, you shouldn't NEED any additional power to perform a normal takeoff. If your inputs are smooth, and your takeoff is deliberate, you won't need it. The idea being that if you can hover, you can perform a normal takeoff.

 

Focus of your takeoffs being super smooth. Landings apply here as well. Don't come in hot. Bring in the power slowly. Your transition from forward flight to a hover should NOT resemble a quick stop.

 

All of this stuff will make sense once you start flying.

 

I force my students to apply this to their flights at sea level. If they have to raise the collective an excessive amount, I make them abort their takeoff and try again.

Edited by ridethisbike
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"Hover power is takeoff power."

Man, you're taking the fun out of flying choppers!,...guess that makes me one of "those" pilots,...ha!

 

 

For what its worth, another part of power management (especially in any off-airport environment) is realizing that hover power may get you in, but it won't get you out. An OGE confined area for instance where you'll need most likely an inch or two above hover power to get out.

 

Something to think about before you decide to land,...especially if HOGE power is at or near your five minute max!

 

,...that is if you don't hit full throttle first! :)

Edited by r22butters
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I was taught by an old school dude with the hover power is takeoff power technique at sea level. I had zero problems adapting to high DA, my very first job with a wet ticket was at high DA (6 - 8000 usually). Key is smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth and smooth.

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Yes, as someone said, you already have a full plate just learning to fly. When you get ready to fly in the mountains, find an employer who will teach you his way as part of the hiring package. Many different philosophies regarding mountain flying, and only I subscribe to the right one. Really.

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Thanks again everyone for your responses.

Mulling these points over and now realizing that I'll already be preoccupied with just learning the basics, I was wondering if it would be too unconventional to obtain my PPL at my current location and then relocate for my commercial certification, in order to train and get more experience in a higher altitude environment, later on? Are CFI's less willing to train pilots that they did not train for their PPL?

I imagine it would make it harder to find a follow up CFI/CFII job by not sticking with one school, but would the versatility be a plus later on or are the hours too negligible to make a difference?

Assuming funds were unlimited and weather permitting, how quickly could someone with a PPL earn their commercial (minimum)?

 

 

Sorry for all of the questions, I just want to be sure I have a solid plan before committing to a school/program. As always, all input is much appreciated. :)

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I did my ppl and com at two different schools and found no prejudice from CFI's who hadn't previously trained me.

 

As for finding work, I have rented at four different schools over the years and they all at some point hired outside CFIs.

 

Once I had all of the basic requirements, like xc, night, PIC, and such (which I built up solo over a couple years just renting) I did my actual commercial training in just one week, while on vacation in Hawaii.

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Thanks again everyone for your responses.

 

Mulling these points over and now realizing that I'll already be preoccupied with just learning the basics, I was wondering if it would be too unconventional to obtain my PPL at my current location and then relocate for my commercial certification, in order to train and get more experience in a higher altitude environment, later on? Are CFI's less willing to train pilots that they did not train for their PPL?

 

I imagine it would make it harder to find a follow up CFI/CFII job by not sticking with one school, but would the versatility be a plus later on or are the hours too negligible to make a difference?

 

Assuming funds were unlimited and weather permitting, how quickly could someone with a PPL earn their commercial (minimum)?

 

 

Sorry for all of the questions, I just want to be sure I have a solid plan before committing to a school/program. As always, all input is much appreciated. :)

 

No offence, but by your posts, it would appear you are not in-tune with how this industry works…

 

#1, you pay a flight school for your certification. For you, this “payment” is an investment in your future. For the school, is an investment in their operation….. Get it?

 

#2, the two most pivotal moments in this endeavor are; getting your first job and getting your first turbine job….. Period…..

 

If you consider the above, getting a job right out of school is best-case-scenario. That said, completing the private at one school while completing the rest at another is not best-case-scenario….

 

Simply put, if I’m a flight school owner, I’m going to give preference to those graduates who wants to be apart my operation and not someone who just wants a particular skill set…..

 

Start with “why”……….

 

Furthermore, if you have unlimited funds, what does it matter? Specifically, in that case, do your CFII at home and then do a dedicated “mountain course” at Ravco Helicopters…. Way more valuable…..

Edited by Spike

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No offence, but by your posts, it would appear you are not in-tune with how this industry works…

 

#1, you pay a flight school for your certification. For you, this “payment” is an investment in your future. For the school, is an investment in their operation….. Get it?

 

#2, the two most pivotal moments in this endeavor are; getting your first job and getting your first turbine job….. Period…..

 

If you consider the above, getting a job right out of school is best-case-scenario. That said, completing the private at one school while completing the rest at another is not best-case-scenario….

 

Simply put, if I’m a flight school owner, I’m going to give preference to those graduates who wants to be apart my operation and not someone who just wants a particular skill set…..

 

Start with “why”……….

 

Furthermore, if you have unlimited funds, what does it matter? Specifically, in that case, do your CFII at home and then do a dedicated “mountain course” at Ravco Helicopters…. Way more valuable…..

 

No offense taken, that's why I'm here asking questions.

 

Thanks for the viewpoints.

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Lots of great input on here so far already. I have one short point to make. While I love flying in the mountains and that's where I earn a living, I see 3 keys to operating there safely-

 

1. Know your personal limits. (They will expand, always be learning)

2. Know your aircrafts limits. (The R22 is extremely limitted)

3. Stay mentally ahead of the game and recognize when you're approaching a limit (personal, aircraft, wind, weather) before it happens.

 

The R22 doesn't belong in the mountains at high DA…..IT'S THAT SIMPLE! So schools that claim the have "high DA" training are just silly.

 

Best case training scenario in my opinion- Sea Level + Terrain + complex airspace nearby.

 

You're asking the right questions my man, good luck and fly safe!

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AS350 makes a valid point. Its nothing to do with reaction time. Mountain flying is about first knowing and validating the aircraft limits, evaluating the environment, and then evaluating your own comfort level/limits. You will eventually find yourself in situations that will cause you to question yourself. There is a much smaller bubble of power margin at high DA. All the reaction time in the world will not get you out of a bad place in high DA if you put yourself in one. You want to practice mountain flying anywhere? On your next approach, pick a comitted decision point 200- 500 ft. from the pad and slow to ETL or below. Pull as much power as you can without exceeding your IGE hover torque. Once you establish IGE hover power, use the cyclic to coax yourself in. Slow and deliberate, but great practice.

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