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Chrisxweaver

How to start my flight career at 18 years old.

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Ive always dreamed of being a pilot I just turned 18 and graduated high school 4 months early moved out of my small hopeless town in with my aunt just got my first job which pays 27k a year not including $0.50 raises every 6 months an no overtime which is in high demand at work. Even today at 18 years old I still run outside at the sound of something flying over but mainly helicopters as I like their versatility over fixed wing planes. I could use some guidance on starting my flight career. I see two options hopefully you guys can open up some more options or elaborate or give insight on my options. My first option is to continue working at this job and just save money then get my license through a licensed instructor the cost is heavy I dont have a family or any major bills $10 phone bill, $200 rent (for now), and $70 for car insurance thats it not including any other cost so its very possible to start getting my license after 1 year of work but my real problem starts when trying to build hours I know it takes time and money and will always be put below by people that have more hours or fresh out of the military. My second option is the army high school to flight school which by the looks of it is very competitive but not as competitive as the Air Force or Navy but the one reason Im not choosing the navy or Air Force is because I truly do not want to go to college nor do I want to sign away x amount of years of service to be in a ROTC program that doesnt guarantee me a pilot slot. So these are the only 2 options can see but either one I have to stay at this job for a minimum of 1 year because if I want to go through the army I have to lose weight which will take time and the other one requires me to build of a solid savings. If you guys could give me some advice on what I should do that would be great. I just need to know where to start and how to start any and all options are welcome thanks!

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Have you taken an introductory flight in a helicopter yet? That’s a really good place to start. My advice would be to save like crazy, take an into flight, and research a school you would like to attend. That will take a few years but those are years you are going to need and time is on your side IMO. The topic of how to get hours and into a job you ultimately want has been beaten to death so I won’t get into it...all I will say is - enjoy the road. One of the most exciting times in my life was flight school and being a flight instructor.

 

Maybe some of the other members can speak to the army route. I was all civilian trained so I can’t offer any advice there.

 

Lastly, don’t spen too much time reading on forums....unfortunately, there is far more negative then positive for some reason. What part of the country are you living in?

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Join the Army, that way when you get out and realized just how much commercial helicopter operators suck, you can use your hours and benefits to jump ship for the airlines,...like everyone else!

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Consider joining a major police department. Many of them will take patrol officers with a private license and, if accepted into the air unit, pay to train them through commercial and instrument. Start off as a tactical flight officer and eventually are signed off to fly as pilot in command.

 

If the department has an age requirement of 21, that will give you some time to continue working, saving, completing your private license and get in shape.

 

Regardless of the department, you will need to keep a spotless record. This includes not doing drugs (even experimenting once); halluengenics are an immediate disqualifier. Dont go to parties and dont speed. Most departments require a polygraph and all do a thorough background check; they will pick apart every aspect of your life. If the polygraph worries you, NYPD does not use it in the hiring process.

 

Full disclosure, I did not go this route. I am not a police officer; I borrowed money for civilian flight school. It worked out for me, but is highly inadvisable; if you dont find employment after flight school you will be burdened with a crushing amount of debt and no other job skills.

 

If this interests you, get in touch with some LE professionals to get first hand info.

 

Some departments with well funded aviation units include:

LAPD

CA Highway Patrol

NYPD

MD State Police

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Join the Army, that way when you get out and realized just how much commercial helicopter operators suck, you can use your hours and benefits to jump ship for the airlines,...like everyone else!

 

Superior training right?

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Dig deep, really deep, and find your inner passion for fixed wing aviation. I think you'll be better served going that route but if you're dead set on rotors:

 

Option 1: You pay for it. Work a ton and slowly piece together money for your private, instrument, commercial, CFI and CFII. If you pay as you go, this will take you forever and you will absolutely become discouraged because it's taking so long. You'll be killing yourself at a real job for weeks to afford a bit of flight and in the end you probably won't finish all your ratings/certificates.

 

Option 1b: You pay for it. Take out a gigantic loan and have the money to complete all your flight school in one go. Bingo bango, you're a CFII. Hope you get a job instructing because otherwise it's going to be nearly impossible to make a career out of flying. You better be living like a homeless person too, because that giant loan you took out is going to suck up all your money for a while.

 

Option 2: You go military. I'll let you read the military forums to get the low down on that route. I'm not the one to discuss it's pros and cons.

 

Lots of doom and gloom right? That being said I went option 1b and everything magically worked out fine for me. There were many times where if one little thing that was entirely out of my control went differently I'd be royally screwed right now. If I had to start all over today and I was 18 I'd go fixed wing. Less uncertainty and more lucrative. In the end a job is a job, even a super cool job like being a helicopter pilot.

 

Best wishes and warm regards.

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Superior training right?

More relevant training is more like it. Two engines, two pilots, bigger aircraft, plus I've heard military guys do more IFR than Robbie Joe.

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More relevant training is more like it. Two engines, two pilots, bigger aircraft, plus I've heard military guys do more IFR than Robbie Joe.

How about the hours? I have fixed wing friends who were military and they always mentioned the fact that they were basically being paid to accrue thousands of hours under a strict set of conditions opposed to those outside of military service.

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Join the Army, that way when you get out and realized just how much commercial helicopter operators suck, you can use your hours and benefits to jump ship for the airlines,...like everyone else!

Be careful where you get your advice, Chrisxweaver. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a lot of negativity on these forums....oddly enough its usually from “armchair quarterbacks” who never got past peewee leagues.

 

Truth is, I’ve met too many awesome people along the way to count....some of them were my employers. Life is what you make it. Fly safe and good luck!

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Be careful where you get your advice, Chrisxweaver. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a lot of negativity on these forums....oddly enough its usually from “armchair quarterbacks” who never got past peewee leagues.

 

Truth is, I’ve met too many awesome people along the way to count....some of them were my employers. Life is what you make it. Fly safe and good luck!

Yes its true this poor old negative nelly never made it past the peewee league, but what can I say, all I've seen is the ass end of this industry and considering how much better I've been treated in the trucking industry (like a thousand times better) commercial aviation can suck the big harry one for all I care!

 

,...but I'm sure everything will work out for you though.

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How about the hours? I have fixed wing friends who were military and they always mentioned the fact that they were basically being paid to accrue thousands of hours under a strict set of conditions opposed to those outside of military service.

Well bully for them.

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How about the hours? I have fixed wing friends who were military and they always mentioned the fact that they were basically being paid to accrue thousands of hours under a strict set of conditions opposed to those outside of military service.

 

Any flight job is basically being paid to accrue hours. You either pay for training with money or you pay with your freedom. Depends on which you value less I guess.

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How to start my flight career at 18 years old.

 

 

Pay.

 

The hardest part of learning to fly is paying for it.

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Any flight job is basically being paid to accrue hours. You either pay for training with money or you pay with your freedom. Depends on which you value less I guess.

 

So you would say gaining hours as a civilian is on par with gaining hours in the military?

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So you would say gaining hours as a civilian is on par with gaining hours in the military?

 

I'd say you'd get more hours in a shorter amount of time. You'll get more instrument and multi-engine time in the military. Depending on what you want to do long term, either might be better than the alternative.

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From what I've seen you will fly far more as a civilian employed pilot. In the Army you will fly about 150hrs a year, sometimes less.

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I would suggest starting with an aviation medical exam. First Class or at least a Second Class to make sure you will meet the requirements.

 

You're in a great situation to spend money on flight training. I was young when I took lessons and just paid as I had the money to do so. I would never give a flight school large sums of money that you are not willing to lose. They can close overnight and run off with your investment.

 

As was stated earlier, enjoy the journey! It's a lot of fun learning. There is more than one way to approach this. Don't get discouraged with different peoples opinions.

 

Best wishes! Look forward to your progress reports. It's a great way to earn a living!

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I'd say you'd get more hours in a shorter amount of time. You'll get more instrument and multi-engine time in the military. Depending on what you want to do long term, either might be better than the alternative.

 

How about when it comes to competing for a job? Let's say you want to fly for Cal-Fire or some other equivalent. Are they going to favor the guy who went to Embry Riddle over the guy flying Blackhawks?

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How about when it comes to competing for a job? Let's say you want to fly for Cal-Fire or some other equivalent. Are they going to favor the guy who went to Embry Riddle over the guy flying Blackhawks?

I haven’t met many helicopter pilots who attended Embry Riddle, it’s more of a blue collar / no college degree required type of job. So the Embry Riddle or Blackhawk route (I’m assuming you meant military) isn’t a great comparison.

 

Cal Fire does seem to have many prior service pilots working for them but they also have civilian trained pilots as well....but I’m sure it would help your resume there to have prior service (just a guess on my part).

 

As for the private sector of fire fighting and in tern utility flying because most fire companies will do some form of utility work. In recent years I have noticed there are much more civilian trained pilots in that sector. I think it’s because no matter who you are or where you came from, when you learn to fly a long line - it’s humbling and nobody is good at it. This puts you at the bottom and there is a lot of learning and paying your dues from there. After 6-10 years or more in the military or any other sector, are you going to want to start all over? Probably not when EMS or now the airlines will give you more money to start and there won’t be the same “paying your dues” for multiple years.

 

This is not a knock on any form of getting your experience, wether you went to Embry Riddle, or the military, or learned in Robinson’s with zero schooling. I’ve just noticed, you’re only going to be willing to pay your dues so much and whatever sector you paid your dues in (EMS, military, offshore, utility, fire) you’re probably not going to want to start over in another sector.

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How about when it comes to competing for a job? Let's say you want to fly for Cal-Fire or some other equivalent. Are they going to favor the guy who went to Embry Riddle over the guy flying Blackhawks?

 

I think Cal Fire would give preference to someone who had time in type of aircraft they're flying and previous fire/utility experience. As with every operator, I think they'd give preference to time in type, time in sector, and any other relevant experience. I.e. instrument time, multi-engine time, etc...

 

I don't think just being in the military puts you above civilians in most operators' eyes.

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CDF (Calfire) doesn't hire pilots. They just own the aircraft. Many of the aircraft that are used by the State of California, or in Region 5 (USFS) are privately contracted, as are CDF mechanics and pilots.

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CDF (Calfire) doesn't hire pilots. They just own the aircraft. Many of the aircraft that are used by the State of California, or in Region 5 (USFS) are privately contracted, as are CDF mechanics and pilots.

Sorry, Avbug but I have to correct you. Cal Fire does employ helicopter pilots. The airplane pilots and mechanics for both airplanes and helicopters are all contract employees. The machines themselves are modified H models that oddly enough are actually owned by the Federal Government and are on a lease program to the state of California. I’m sure this will change to some degree when Cal Fire takes delivery of their new Blackhawks.

 

That being said, Region 5 is a very busy place to fight fire and Cal Fire and the USFS will contract outside vendors to come fight fire.

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There are no universal rules for success in this biz, sorry. The one constant is that it takes years of work, plus a little luck.

 

I know civilian pilots who worked hard, saved their money and did it in 'bursts', ie private in one go, next commercial/ifr, then CFI/I, then... I know some who started their own business, then... Some who carried a bunch of debt for a while. Thy are all persistent, smart, hard workers who had the qualifications at the right time and right place.

I also know civilian pilots who didn't....

 

I know military trained pilots (Theme music playing "Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines!" Oh, and Coast Guard!) who were in the right place, at the right time, with the right qualifications, etc.

 

If I was I your shoes, I'd plan for 3-10 years slurping ramen, chasing hours, whether in the service or civvie world before you are widely, competitive for the 'good jobs'. the one advantage of going military is that Uncle Sam will do most of the thinking, feed and clothe you, and could send you to foreign lands where you'll meet exotic people and kill or be killed.

And, there are some who think that the 'junior' military pilot (low time in civvie ops) is not the best choice. But that same pilot gets hiring credits at other operators.

You can complete your post-flight school service obligation and still not have 'the hours'.

 

The constants are diligence, intelligence, and being in the right place at the right time, no matter how often you do it before it succeeds.

 

Oh, and professional networking. Not that it will 'get you in', but knowing who, what, when and where will help you be in the right place, etc. with the right qualifications.

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