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Attention: Old pilots, current pilots and ESPECIALLY new pilots. Something you might want to know about...

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When I went to flight school, I spent around 85k on all of my ratings, not including cost of living. I was so excited to become a professional helicopter pilot. My first job after flight instructor was brutal, we all know the story. Super low pay, scattered hour, most dangerous part of the career. It was a rough time but I enjoyed it because I loved to fly and had dreams of having an amazing job some day.

 

I knew this was the price I had to pay. I must climb the ladder and pay my dues I told myself! Little did I know at the time, the low paying jobs didnt end there. Ive been a commercial pilot for over 10 years and I feel like Im still paying. I have over 7k hours of flight time, over 2000 hours PIC in Bell over 3000 PIC in Eurocopter models and over 1000 hours in Robinsons (which doesnt seem to count for anything). Ive flown all over the USA for work.

 

There are two main things that make me regret being a helicopter pilot the most:

 

1.) The helicopter companies we work for.

2.) The starting salaries

 

 

How is it possible for a commercial helicopter company to start a new pilot out at 55k a year? HOW IS THAT OK?!!!! Whos to blame? The company or the newbee pilot that would basically fly for free to land his/her first turbine job.

 

Im seeing an average salary of a 3000+ hour pilot around 65-70k. This is a JOKE and must not be allowed to go on. I want to call out some companies so bad right now but I know it would probably be breaking community guidelines. I just feel like all the pilots need to get together and put our foot down.

 

We are RISKING OUR LIVES and certain companies/corporations are raking in cash!! Why are they so greedy, what is causing such low salaries and most importantly, how can we come together to fix this? No commercial helicopter pilot should be making less than 100k USD salary per year. Not for what we do, no way! Thoughts?

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I hear the airlines are hiring, try them.

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I don't have nearly the experience you do. I started fixed wing training in 2005, flying for the Army in 2010, and have about 1700 hours to show for it. That said, I'm applying to the airlines because the opportunity presented itself and the rotary community pay, hours, and overall quality of life just cannot come close to competing with the fixed wing world. It sounds like a bunch of other helicopter pilots are taking similar steps so maybe this will help shape the industry. I'm not holding out any hope though.

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You have obviously never been on the management side of a helicopter company, or you wouldn't spout such #fakenews, Mister President.

 

Supply, meet demand.

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You have obviously never been on the management side of a helicopter company, or you wouldn't spout such #fakenews, Mister President.

 

Supply, meet demand.

If I worked on the management side and was paying my fellow pilots what they make now, I wouldnt be able to look at myself in the mirror. Is this Hilary Clinton by chance trying to troll? Sounds like #fakenews and #metoo all at once.

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Is it against forum rules to call companies out? I have a whole list of helicopter companies that treat their pilots below standard, underpaying and overworking them to their endless advantage. On a good note, a helicopter company that should receive recognition for treating their pilots well is PHI. They set the standard for a respectable corporation. Theyre initial pay is well below standard, but at least they offer scheduled pay raises and tons of perks the last I checked. You can actually retire at this company successfully if you are with them for the long haul. Maverick helicopters in Las Vegas starts pilots at around 90k a year which is fantastic , but good luck lasting out there. Roughly 80% of their pilots leave after 1-2 years. Very high turn over rate. I wont go into why, but if youd like to know, feel free to PM me. Anyone else have any good companies theyd like to put under the spotlight for any reason? I feel like this should be an open conversation for all new pilots entering the industry.

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Mr. President,

 

Life is too short to be that unhappy. Go find something else to do with your life......

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Mr. President,

 

Life is too short to be that unhappy. Go find something else to do with your life......

Im sorry you view my post as an indication that Im unhappy. In fact, Im very happy.. If youre going to try to and dissuade me from helping new pilots on what to look out for when selecting a career path or a solid company to work for, maybe youre the one that needs to find a better avenue with your idle time instead of trolling helicopter threads. Ive read some of your previous posts/replies. Seems like you take pride in trolling threads.

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It's actually a little comical to hear you call 55k as a low salary when there is quite a bit of pilots making less than flipping burgers doing R44 tours. Like seriously the pay including tips is 12-20k depending on the operator. To the helicopters pilots that went that route and never did flight instruction, they clearly wanted it more than the average graduate.

 

Now if I'm paying a pilot that low salary of course I am going to have him clean the building and do non-pilot jobs. Did your employer promise that you would only do work involving a helicopter. I mean any job I have worked at, Pizza Hut, Home Depot, Military(enlisted), ramp rat refueled, flight instructor, I have had to vacuum/mop floors. It just makes sense why hire a janitor unless you know everyone will leave because their ego can't handle a task that is to far below them?

 

If you are an engineer that makes 100k then I imagine you don't get told to clean because your time is wasted doing such task, but as a helicopter pilot that has down time that just isn't the case.

 

Personally you topic makes me ask the question, why does someone start a helicopter business, like stated above when the profit margin for it to succeed involves paying pilots poverty wages. Sounds like a business setting itself up to fail. But hey if you want to ride the supply n demand train and profit off of suckers that's your choice to do it.

 

In conclusion, yes we are all disposible, all the money in the world and the perfect job will never make you truly happy if you ever reached that point. Life's not fair but learning to be content is a start.

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It's actually a little comical to hear you call 55k as a low salary when there is quite a bit of pilots making less than flipping burgers doing R44 tours. Like seriously the pay including tips is 12-20k depending on the operator. To the helicopters pilots that went that route and never did flight instruction, they clearly wanted it more than the average graduate.

 

Now if I'm paying a pilot that low salary of course I am going to have him clean the building and do non-pilot jobs. Did your employer promise that you would only do work involving a helicopter. I mean any job I have worked at, Pizza Hut, Home Depot, Military(enlisted), ramp rat refueled, flight instructor, I have had to vacuum/mop floors. It just makes sense why hire a janitor unless you know everyone will leave because their ego can't handle a task that is to far below them?

 

If you are an engineer that makes 100k then I imagine you don't get told to clean because your time is wasted doing such task, but as a helicopter pilot that has down time that just isn't the case.

 

Personally you topic makes me ask the question, why does someone start a helicopter business, like stated above when the profit margin for it to succeed involves paying pilots poverty wages. Sounds like a business setting itself up to fail. But hey if you want to ride the supply n demand train and profit off of suckers that's your choice to do it.

 

In conclusion, yes we are all disposible, all the money in the world and the perfect job will never make you truly happy if you ever reached that point. Life's not fair but learning to be content is a start.

Lets compare being a HELICOPTER PILOT and the risks/skills involved along with student training costs to other jobs that require less skill. We can discuss a salary comparison an idividual would receive as compensation. Lets use a mortgage banker (no college required) or an employee fresh out of college with a COMMUNICATIONS degree (absolutely worthless imo) working as a pharmaceutical rep.. I can take classes on lesbian dance theory or some other equivalent like HeliHunter did in college as an elective and earn a bachelors degree in communications. Maybe I go to a half way decent school and end up with 50-60k in loans. The cost of school/training for ANY career should be a minimum baseline for industry standard salary. Mortgage bankers (no college required) or pharmaceutical reps (college required) both pay more than what a helicopter pilot would earn. A helicopter pilot has more skill in his left nut that a pharm rep and mortgage banker put together. Pharm reps with benefits make over 100k a year. Mortgage bankers arent too far off from that after commission and bonuses. A helicopter pilot (brushing dust off shoulder) as most of us know, is a job that requires mastery of a wide array of skills, above and beyond most pissant jobs that start st 70k. Less than 100k is a joke within the US economy right now. You can barely afford to support a family on that and live a life of average means. Helicopter pilots should be making 150k + a year for cost of our training, the risk we face every time we go up and the skills we wield as pilots.. Minus the mom and pop shop operations, companies like Maverick, ERA, PHI, and Air methods who make MILLIONS of dollars a year can afford to pay their pilots 150k and still turn a huge profit. The reason we dont make this amount is because its too easy to become a helicopter pilot and we allow ourselves to be raped by industrial corporations and the VPs/owners that take a 300,400,500k + salary a year. Im sick of it and instead of complaining, I would rather come up with some ideas to do something about it together as fellow aviators. If you feel like 55k a year is fair for flying medicav or offshore operations, thats your perogative. If youre flying a Robinson, that is a separate subject. Im talking about turbine jobs only here, Robbie Rangers (I was there once) are another category altogether. HeliHunter, you need to pay your internet bill before you reply, youre 30 days past due. ;)

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I still turn wrenches for this very reason. I make a six figure salary as an A&P, working 6 months out of the year. 4 weeks on/4 weeks off. I wasn't ready to make a sacrifice by starting out at the bottom making peanuts, and not making much more than median A&P pay once I had a few years experience flying. My advice is fly for fun. That's what I do now. About to start my fixed wing add-on rating so that I can fly further for cheaper.

Edited by superstallion6113

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I still turn wrenches for this very reason. I make a six figure salary as an A&P, working 6 months out of the year. 4 weeks on/4 weeks off. I wasn't ready to make a sacrifice by starting out at the bottom making peanuts, and not making much more than median A&P pay once I had a few years experience flying. My advice is fly for fun. That's what I do now. About to start my fixed wing add-on rating so that I can fly further for cheaper.

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Helicopter mechanic school is a fraction of what it cost to be a helicopter pilot and typically their salaries are equal to or greater than pilots. Fact Perfect example of how companies can afford to pay more and dont because of supply and demand. If every pilot put their foot down and would except no less than X amount salary, the whole industry pay standard would change

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Mr. Pres.

 

If every pilot put their foot down and would except no less than X amount salary, the whole industry pay standard would change

That only works on paper. Guessing by the number of hours you have you were around when the air traffic controllers went on strike. Reagan fired everyone. Then rehired a whole new crop. Salary is what the market pays.

 

Not arguing with you regarding your points to pilot skill, responsibility, etc.

It is, what it is....

 

Plus, for each guy that 'hypothetically' puts his foot down, there will be hundreds of others willing to step in to their ships right now for equal or less $$.

Again, ... It is, what it is....

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What they pay a person will depend on what that person's efforts bring into the business.

 

A lawyer brings in buckets, as does a doctor.

 

A pilot operates an aircraft, which will carry passengers or workers, according to a list of fares - WHICH ARE PROBABLY DRIVEN DOWN BY COMPETITION. A joyride in a 44 is cheap as chips, and barely covers the costs of running the aircraft, depreciation, pilot costs, and hopefully a little profit for the business. A jet airliner has to follow its timetable and might run almost empty - no profit in that.

 

The oil companies pay the workers a pile of money, and to transport them to the rigs, a good service with twin engines and dual crews and lots of hangers-on is required, and if the contract is negotiated well, the money is good, for the business and the pilots.

 

You can bleat all you like about how much you spent (voluntarily) to get a licence, and about how you consider yourself a long way up the ladder of prestige, but a mortgage broker in one go can bring in more money than you will do in a month. So will a pharmaceutical rep. Who will be rewarded better?

 

Follow your avatar and go into politics, where you will find unqualified ignorant people in positions of power and taking home obscene amounts of money.

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Really good point. How about this angle... pilots get together and put pressure on the FAA to up the minimum requirements for becoming a helicopter pilot / instructor. We all know the blind lead the blind at this stage of the career. The minimum should be 200 hours to get a private pilots license for helicopters. I really dont care how much that would cost, its a reality. So we file a class action lawsuit against the FAA for not having high enough minimums which essentially puts every pilot in danger. How in Gods good name can anyone feel safe about giving someone a license to take passengers at 40 hours?! Someone please agree with me on this

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When I went to flight school, I spent around 85k on all of my ratings, ...

 

How do you spell entitlement?

 

What kind of living do you suppose the world owes you?

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Can you give us more detail on helicopter adventures of myrtle beach? What do they pay pilots for a 12 hour day on average with no breaks? New pilots need to read this stuff, THIS is your future reality. Low paying, high risk, long days. Best thing to do is get a bachelors degree before becoming a helicopter pilot. At least youll have something to fall back on. With all the tax breaks large corps are getting, youd think all pilots would get a substantial raise. Truth is, we are all disposable. Theres always someone itching to do your job for less.

They payed $2k a month, for a five month contract, which is actually the highest of all the jobs I've ever interviewed for. You also have to sign a contract that states that if you leave before the season is over you have to pay him $25k.

 

I didn't go there for the money (which would have been just enough for living and travel expenses, so at season's end I'd have no money left) like most lowtimers I went for those stupid f*cking hours by which everyone judges us!

 

Most jobs I've interviewed for (mainly R44 Tours) paid a hell of a lot lower!

 

Old City in Florida was $300-$500 a month.

 

Light Flight in Van Nuys was nothing for the first three months, then $300-$500 a month.

 

Jetboy (also in Van Nuys) was also $500 a month.

 

I didn't get any of those jobs so I can't say how they treat their pilots, but how anyone can get their careers started with such low ass pay is beyond me?

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the dues in this industry are too high! Giving rides over the Vegas strip at night (the job I became a commercial pilot to do) ain't worth this sh*t!

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Really good point. How about this angle... pilots get together and put pressure on the FAA to up the minimum requirements for becoming a helicopter pilot / instructor. We all know the blind lead the blind at this stage of the career. The minimum should be 200 hours to get a private pilots license for helicopters. I really dont care how much that would cost, its a reality. So we file a class action lawsuit against the FAA for not having high enough minimums which essentially puts every pilot in danger. How in Gods good name can anyone feel safe about giving someone a license to take passengers at 40 hours?! Someone please agree with me on this

1000 hours to be a flight instructor makes sense, but 200 for a private, THAT'S RIDICULOUS!!!

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They payed $2k a month, for a five month contract, which is actually the highest of all the jobs I've ever interviewed for. You also have to sign a contract that states that if you leave before the season is over you have to pay him $25k.

 

I didn't go there for the money (which would have been just enough for living and travel expenses, so at season's end I'd have no money left) like most lowtimers I went for those stupid f*cking hours by which everyone judges us!

 

Most jobs I've interviewed for (mainly R44 Tours) paid a hell of a lot lower!

 

Old City in Florida was $300-$500 a month.

 

Light Flight in Van Nuys was nothing for the first three months, then $300-$500 a month.

 

Jetboy (also in Van Nuys) was also $500 a month.

 

I didn't get any of those jobs so I can't say how they treat their pilots, but how anyone can get their careers started with such low ass pay is beyond me?

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the dues in this industry are too high! Giving rides over the Vegas strip at night (the job I became a commercial pilot to do) ain't worth this sh*t!

Im regretting it too. Its the worst choice Ive ever made for a long term career. I dont take back the experience and the beautiful places Ive flown. I just despise how pilots are treated. At least Maverick pays their pilots what they deserve when the work you to the bone. Thats the only company I know of other than some select off shore jobs or oversees contracts. But who wants to fly between RPGs and bullets wizzing by you? Anyone down to file a class action lawsuit against the FAA for allowing people to fly a helicopter at 40 hours? Its so unbelievably DANGEROUS, even passing their bs excuse for a checkride. If a 40 hour pilot that just passed his checkride had an actual engine failure, that would be the end of him and we all know it. So why not stand up and make a change !

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Prez Thump, you must have gone to a really bad school, because any private pilot I put my name to was able to aviate, navigate and communicate. They could fly to a consistent standard and not be a risk to anybody. As long as they kept current and kept learning.

 

Remember that 40 hrs is the minimum acceptable for a genius pilot, most will take a little longer, but if they pass a proper checkride, they are safe to fly. If any idiot gives them a licence when they are NOT safe to fly, that idiot belongs in the white house.

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Remember that 40 hrs is the minimum acceptable for a genius pilot, most will take a little longer, but if they pass a proper checkride, they are safe to fly. If any idiot gives them a licence when they are NOT safe to fly, that idiot belongs in the white house.

 

 

Much as I'd like to say "here, here," the present occupant has set the bar much lower.

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