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Sydney

Help.. I'm Brand New & Have a Few Questions

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Hello, this is my first post but I have been looking at the forum for a bit now. I hadn't found an exact answer to the questions I have so I figured I would ask them myself.

 

I am ready to begin the schooling necessary to earn my Private and Commercial license for helicopters. I have done the discovery flight but that is all so far. I loved it :)

 

Where I live, I have only 1 school option. They teach on Robinson22's and 44's and that is it. I know there is a lot of debate about learning on a Robinson vs. Schweizer and other helicopters. My first questions is, if I learn on a Robinson and find myself in a position to need to know another helicopter for a job, how hard is it to make the adjustments? Do I have to go back to school? Would it take a lot of effort to make the switch for a job?

 

This school only offers an "independent study" type learning atmosphere. I won't attend a weekly class but rather study and complete assignments at home and then schedule flying time at the school. The CFI will quiz me on the chapters I worked on at home before flying but it is all very independent. Has anyone here completed schooling that way? If so, do you have some pros and cons for me? I am fairly book smart, I do have a bachelors degree but I always envisioned the schooling for this to be more hands on and in a classroom environment and this sort of worries me. I'd love to hear opinions on this!

 

Thank you for your time,

Sydney

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Fly the Robby without a worry, chip away and build 44 time as you go and make a plan to go to the factory course, bet your first experience getting paid to fly a helicopter will be in a 44.

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Fly the Robby without a worry, chip away and build 44 time as you go and make a plan to go to
Hello, this is my first post but I have been looking at the forum for a bit now. I hadn't found an exact answer to the questions I have so I figured I would ask them myself.

 

I am ready to begin the schooling necessary to earn my Private and Commercial license for helicopters. I have done the discovery flight but that is all so far. I loved it :)

 

Where I live, I have only 1 school option. They teach on Robinson22's and 44's and that is it. I know there is a lot of debate about learning on a Robinson vs. Schweizer and other helicopters. My first questions is, if I learn on a Robinson and find myself in a position to need to know another helicopter for a job, how hard is it to make the adjustments? Do I have to go back to school? Would it take a lot of effort to make the switch for a job?

 

This school only offers an "independent study" type learning atmosphere. I won't attend a weekly class but rather study and complete assignments at home and then schedule flying time at the school. The CFI will quiz me on the chapters I worked on at home before flying but it is all very independent. Has anyone here completed schooling that way? If so, do you have some pros and cons for me? I am fairly book smart, I do have a bachelors degree but I always envisioned the schooling for this to be more hands on and in a classroom environment and this sort of worries me. I'd love to hear opinions on this!

 

Thank you for your time,

Sydney

 

Sydney,

 

To succeed in this career path, it is paramount that you are able to move anywhere in the US on a whim. While training at a local flight school may be practical, in the long run it may not be in your best interest. The most important factors to consider in choosing a school, in order, are:

 

1.) Aircraft type (the R22 being the most commonly used, and thus what you should train in to qualify you for the majority of CFI jobs).

2.) Instructor experience. A brand new CFI is basically an apprentice; they are learning important career life lessons at your expense. Your best option is a school with an experienced chief pilot, and instructors with at least a year of teaching experience.

3.) Aircraft/instructor availability. Gaps in training due to scheduling delays will cost you a lot of extra money and delay progress.

4.) High student volume. More students = more CFI jobs = higher chance of employment.

5.) Rental price. Self explanatory.

 

Factors such as busy airspace environment, mountain flying, turbine/longline courses are marketing gimmicks. Later in your career each one will be extremely valuable but, for ab-initio training, the list above is far more important.

 

You will start your career as a CFI. Forget about starting as a SIC or an R44 tour pilot; those opportunities are far and few between.

 

Be prepared to move anywhere in the country for that CFI job. I trained in CA and took the first job I was offered... which was in NY.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to PM me for additional info; Im not scheduled to fly tomorrow and would be happy to give you further insight.

Edited by Hand_Grenade_Pilot

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'R44 tour pilot; those opportunities are few and far between'

 

Hey man, I think you are out of touch on that. How long you been out the game?

 

Did you go to a CFI factory, subsidized by the VA? Well they ain't nothing like they used to be nowadays.

Edited by takefootoff

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'R44 tour pilot; those opportunities are few and far between'

 

Hey man, I think you are out of touch on that. How long you been out the game?

 

Did you go to a CFI factory, subsidized by the VA? Well they ain't nothing like they used to be nowadays.

AND most of the other busy schools tend to be in high cost of living areas and are swamped with highly competitive foreigners with life or death motivation to get that instruction job.

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'R44 tour pilot; those opportunities are few and far between'

 

Hey man, I think you are out of touch on that. How long you been out the game?

 

Did you go to a CFI factory, subsidized by the VA? Well they ain't nothing like they used to be nowadays.

 

It is very unlikely that a company will hire a newly certified pilot with 200 hours for tours, even in an R44. So yes, I stand by that statement. After logging 500-1000 hours as a CFI there are plenty of R44 jobs available.

 

I finished flight school seven years ago. Part 61 using a loan, not the VA. Bristow Academy in Concord, CA. They had five CFI's and four helicopters; I felt that it was a great balance between personalized training and having adequate resources. As for competition from foreign students... it has always been competitive, regardless of nationality.

 

Going to a mom and pop shop that needs one new instructor every two years is unlikely to yield a job. And if it does, having hardly any students will keep you in career purgatory. You don't have to go to a huge 141 "pilot factory" school; I'm just saying that one should be weary of the really small 1-2 helicopter/CFI schools that are scraping by.

 

As for larger schools being in or near expensive cities.... there are ways to keep costs down. Car pool or ride a motorcycle/scooter, crash pad w/ room mates, etc.

 

For a frame of reference, which school did you go to? How long ago was that, and what was your experience?

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Ah' Bristow in Concord,...I remember when they were Helicopter Adventures, got my Schweizer time there, all five hours of it. Nice place, too bad they closed up.

 

Yeah, R44 jobs under 500 hours, sure I've come across a few over the years, but they're usually just looking for one pilot, out of a huge stack of resumes, so,...

 

Even the ones for the 500 hour guys can be hard to get. Then they must not yield that many hours (or just really suck) 'cause I've met a lot of CFI's who just went back to teaching afterwards,...instead of going back for another tour season, so,...?

 

By the way OP, since you asked. I'm not all that fond of "independent study". Maybe its just 'cause I'm lazy, but I liked having the instructor explain it to me first :)

Edited by r22butters

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Fair enough. Guess I was on the other end of the spectrum.

 

Small 61/141 operation with 300s, got some quality instruction from an old timer and was able to get a 44 tour gig at like 600hrs after instructing there.

 

If I didn't get that 44 time tho, I'd be stuck there still.

Edited by takefootoff

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Some place in Florida are definitely hiring guys for R44 tours between 200-300 hour, commerical rated no CFI. I know of two pilots right now. I believe they log 200 or some hours a year though. Be prepared to take a second job to live off of.

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