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Hey everyone!


So i am currently a 40yr old trucker who has always had the dream of flying helis as a career. Even though the more i look into it, autorotations kinda scare me. Lol and i dont know if i would be able to be a CFI. The knowledge CFIs have is amazing!


But a quick question to get me started..... there is one school in my area here in Washington State and i was told on the phone that they have a program that is like $80k which includes everything feom flighttime 200hrs, books, travel, private, cfi and commercial etc... and the loan would be through sallie mae.


Is this expensive? Does it sound like a good deal/option?


I dont even know if i would get approved for the loan but thought id ask. I have to wait to get down to 240lbs from 270lbs anyways. Lol


Anyways. Thanks for any info or tips!

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I'm a 47 year old trucker with a commercial pilots license and about 800 hours, no cfi.


There's only one company I know of where you could work if you don't want to be a cfi and they won't consider anyone who is over 190 lbs! In fact, the vast majority of entry level jobs require a cfi and weight under 190 lbs!


Get your private license, rent an Enstrom or Schweizer, or Cabri (you're too heavy for the r22) on the weekends and just fly for fun. Realistically that's as far as you'll ever make it!



Edited by r22butters
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Thanks for the responses :)


I forgot to mention that i would not have to start paying back the loan for 1.5years. And i dont want to do this as a hobby, iwant to leave trucking and do it as a career.


Well, i typically make between 80-85k a year trucking. Made 83 last year but i dont care about the money. I also have no problem losing the weight being a veteran Marine i can change that but 190 just sounds unhealthy. Lol. Ive lost 15lbs already so i guess at least ill be healthier!


Man... paying $300 out of pocket per lesson sounds painful!!! :(

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I'm a marine veteran as well and only 32 and its still hard losing weight. It's a very difficult process to be successful in this industry. I'm not going to say don't do it but definitely make sure you're going in clear eyed. Have you researched salaries for your first few jobs as a pilot? After getting your rating you have to build hours as a flight instructor and they're generally paid between 10 and 20 dollars an hour but only per flight hour. I know its improving a little bit but suffice it to say a lot of flight instructors are below the poverty line. I have a friend working three jobs CFI, tour pilot, and at night bartender to pay his bills and build time. Your also looking at 2-4 years of CFI or R-44 tour pilot to break into the turbine world where you can make a living wage.


Hour requirements have been coming down so it's a bit easier than it was a few years ago to break into the industry, it is still by no means a guarantee of a job though. Also make sure you take a few lessons out of pocket to find out if you have an aptitude for it. I've seen plenty of people take out loans only to realize flying wasn't what they expected or that they just aren't cut out for it. Taking out a loan to pay for flight training in general is a bad idea at that because of the low entry level pay and uncertainty of your career so make sure you understand that potential as well. The lessons will likely be much more than 300 an hour given your weight but as painful as they would be out of pocket imagine the difficulty of paying back that loan for the next umpteen years with it generating little to no income for you.


What ever you decide good luck.

Edited by Fred0311
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After reading what sounds like overwhelming negativity in my post I wanted to add that if it's something you truly want to do. A dream to achieve before you die. Go for it. I absolutely love what I do. Just make sure you're clear on the challenges and that even once you've "made it" it can still be a difficult lifestyle.

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Lol ya that was pretty depressing to read! Lol.


The good thing i think for me is im single, no kids and i can move to anywhere where i may be able to get a job. But i do have bills like everyone and 10-20/flight hour would not cut it.


I would definitely takes some flights to make sure it is for me but from what i was reading it doesnt seem possible financially. I got a lil over 2k a month in bills. :(. Appreciate the honesty

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As the resident curmudgeon and advice columnist here, let me weigh-in on this!


Dear Curmudgeon,


I am a 40 year-old, 270-pound virgin and I'd like to become a professional helicopter pilot. Is this possible in my lifetime?



Starry-eyed dreamer.


Dear S-E-D,


I'm gonna drop a reality bomb on ya: It's not realistic. Sorry.


Maaaan, I hate to be one of those "dream stealers," but there are plenty on this (and other) boards that will tell you, in gentle, supporting tones like some misguided life coach, "Go for it, man! You only live once! Follow your dreams!" Yeah, well... I'd like to be an actor like Tom Cruise and make his kind of money, but that wasn't going to happen even when I was younger and better-looking. So the guys who urge you to follow your dream are not quite being completely honest with you. (Well, Fred was in his first post above.)


Look, you're 270 now? And you're 40? Trust me, getting down to 240 is going to be tough. What will be tougher is staying at 240. I'm 205 and I'd love to be 180 again. But the lifestyle and diet that maintaining such a weight would require is... well... I have to be honest with myself - it's probably never gonna happen. But in your case, guess what - even 240 is considered "pretty damn heavy" for most of these teeny little trainy go-cart helicopters. Go out and look at an R-22 one of these days. You'll be pretty much forced into training in a Schweizer 300. Price that out.


Finally, let's talk about money. Some school wants you to put up $80k and in exchange they'll get you up to Commercial with 200 hours. Guess what (again), NOBODY is going to hire you at 200 hours. I don't care what this industry does with regard to this "pilot shortage," but NOBODY is going to relax their hiring standards and pick from the pool of 200-hour newbies out there. And if anyone tells you otherwise they are blowing serious smoke up your ass. You're going to need a minimum of 500 hours. Once in a blue moon you might find an operator who'll take a chance on something less than 500, but you can't count on it.


And even if they did relax the total-time requirement, few R-44 tour operators are going to hire a 240 pound pilot. They'll say, "Can you get down to 200 before next week? No? Ooooookay, thanks for stopping by! Next!" Then he clicks the old-fashioned intercom button and says to the receptionist, "Dottie, send that skinny chick in, I want to talk to her. What's that? She got an offer to go fly an S-76 while she was waiting and booked out of here? (sigh) Goddamit. Okay, send in that surfer-dude-looking kid in the board shorts. He looks like he hasn't eaten in a couple of weeks. He'll be perfect for what we're paying."



That's reality. Can you overcome those very tough obstacles and perservere and succeed? Sure. Maybe. Nothing is impossible in life. But going in, just know that you will not be training in an R-22 at 270 pounds. And probably not at 240 either if you're "big-boned" like Cartman.


I talked to the Cabri guys at the Heli-Expo show yesterday. Impressive little ship! Nice big cabin. I asked what the empty and max gross weights were and they told me: 950/1550. Basically it has a 600 pound useful load. That ain't much. Cabri would probably be your best bet, but there aren't many of them in the U.S. right now. (The Robertson cult loyalty is strong - people stick with what they know even if something "better"' comes along.)


That's the long and the short of it. "Becoming a professional pilot" involves more than just getting the Commercial rating with 200 hours and expecting employers to come beating down your door (unless you're a chick). How you get to a marketable hour-level is a BIG (read: expensive) issue. I would suggest that you make the (ahem) transition, which seems to be increasingly popular these days. But at 270 pounds you'd probably make a pretty unattractive chick. And being single and all, you're probably still "on the market," eh? No need to mess with that.


So that's the viewpoint from Mr. Negative here. Plenty of people will give you the opposite opinion. Listen to all advice and then decide what you really, really want to do. It's your life. You might find that merely pursuing the dream was totally worth it, even if it didn't ultimately lead to a career flying helicopters. The time spent learning how to fly is never wasted. If you get your rating but have to go back and drive a truck for a living, you'll still be one of a select few people on the planet who can do what we do. And that's pretty F'ing special!

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Even though that was completely negative I was cracking up reading your whole post...lol.


Ya, seems people are stuck on the weight loss but truly, weight is easy for me to lose, its not a problem. I am 6'3 and when I hit the gym and diet, I typically level out at 225lbs because thats what I like to be at. The only reason I am the weight I am now is cause trucking makes me lazy and I just dont give a shiz...lol. But, if I have a reason to stay in shape then that would just be a plus for me.


Also, you might be able to weigh in on this..... The owner of the company told me that after I complete the training that I could be a CFI at their school.....is that a pretty common thing?


The problem I am seeing is the money factor while being a CFI. How many hours does a CFI do per day? Im thinking its not a full time job?


Appreciate you guys talking me through this, even if it is negative...lol. If I could get to the point where I have a job and I was able to just pay my bills, I would be happy. I make PLENTY of money right now but I am not happy trucking anymore. I know all these scenarios are based on if I even like flying the Heli but I need to look at the whole picture.

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The tried and true career path is you become a flight instructor at the school you went to. And it needs to be the school you went to because schools like to advertise that they hire their own students also their students are a known quantity. So if you don't get a job at your school you are almost done as a career pilot before you even begin.


Now the problem with it is its a ponzi scheme. Think about this, if you graduate with 200 hours and you need 1000 to get out of instruction that means you have to take 4 students from zero to 200 to get to 1000 hours. So you start as one of another instructors 4 students. Will you be the one of those the company hires when he gets a better job and moves on? If not your done. Ok maybe your Chuck Aaron 2.0 and the best pilot they've ever seen. But if its between you at 225 lbs or a mediocre pilots who's 140-160lbs they're going to get it every time. That light weight instructor can teach the light weight and heavy weight students while you're less useful because you can only teach the light ones.


I was turned down for a tour job in a jet ranger because I was 220 lbs and that's a turbine helicopter! Plenty of air ambulance jobs list weight limits between 220-230lbs. They don't care if you're 6'3" or 5 foot nothing. Useful load is useful load.


So you will pretty much be limited to instructing in a more expensive aircraft so that's the one you have to train in. But it will further limit your usefulness to the school. That 180 lb guy or 120lb girl can teach in a R44 and a R22.


And hours and pay varies wildly depending on how busy an individual school is. No matter what though plan on being broke.

Edited by Fred0311
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Thanks Fred....


Damn... its just insane to me that I am basically dead in the water cause im not scrawny:( I mean...I can lose weight but those weights are way to low, meaning I would not want to be that small. Also, if Im gonna lose out on a job to someone who is smaller is not a plus.


Eh, I'd look into flying planes but its not really on my list and I also read there isnt much for jobs, especially at my age.


Ah well, life goes on!

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Now the problem with it is its a ponzi scheme. Think about this, if you graduate with 200 hours and you need 1000 to get out of instruction that means you have to take 4 students from zero to 200 to get to 1000 hours. So you start as one of another instructors 4 students. Will you be the one of those the company hires when he gets a better job and moves on? If not your done.



This is incorrect as many students are not career oriented. Also, since the market is not saturated with out of work pilots, no Ponzi scheme. Instructing jobs are not hard to come by. Every competent instructor that sticks with teaching and gets the hours moves on. Every one.

Edited by helonorth
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