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Is it worth it or not?


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So I am now almost two months into the rotary Cpl course in Canada. Almost done ground school work and about 22 hours into flying. I have not solo'd yet. the school I am attending for the first time has taken on 10 students vs their normal 6.

The instructors are ex-military. I am having difficulties with the ground work and getting through it and understanding some of the material, they are not overly good at working with me as they are very unorganized and spread quite thin between the students. I don't think their style is best for me.

When it comes to flying I am making slow progress and should be solo soon. many in the class solo's around 14-16 hours. Now my situation is... I put the horror stories in the back of my mind when getting into this cuz I hoped to bust my ass and excel at it and be able to find work immediately after in a decent paying job (I was dreaming). Now I think I'm becoming my worst case scenario. I am gonna end up finishing the course (fingers crossed) and not even work in it cuz I can't afford to live on 15$ an hour in the middle of nowhere. AND I'm gonna be 60,000$ in debt... Im about 1/3 in now, should I just pull out and call it quits? should I try to get my ppl instead. Little easier? and still get to have the best hours of my life in a heli? with taking the PPL I can always go back in a couple years and get my commercial if my situation changes.


Just looking for another persons opinion on the subject and one that I am not paying to take the course, obviously they are telling me to continue and see where life takes me.... thanks in advance!!!

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Let's say you meet someone you really, really like...someone who gives you that special feeling, and!...who returns your affections. You two decide to "make it official" and pursue a relationship. Well you don't go into such a relationship half-hearted. You don't say, "Meh- maybe it'll work out. And if not...meh." No! You go in with all the optimism and faith you can muster. It will work out! You'll make it work out! Of course, it still might not, but at least you'll know you gave it your best shot.


And so it is with aviation. If you want a career in this crazy industry you have to want it...want it badly enough to make the Big Commitment and not go, "Meh- maybe I'll just stop at Private..." Because if that's your attitude, you might as well give up right now.


Nobody...N-O-B-O-D-Y...ever said that becoming a professional helicopter pilot would be easy. Or quick. Or cheap. You either have to go in the military and do it that way (which is a high price to pay indeed!), or try to do it the civilian way, which is much, much more difficult. If you get out of the military, you might have a skillset that could get you hired at a Utility company. If you get your bare-bones Commercial/Inst/CFI, you'll be lucky to be hired at the school that trained you (*if* you're under a certain body weight). But let me tell you- it can happen. If you have some magic combination of qualities, doors will open for you. You just can't give up.


Then there's the thing we don't like to talk about: Not everyone has what it takes...not everyone has the talent to be a commercial helicopter pilot. Everybody likes to think they could learn to fly a helicopter at the professional level, but no, not just anybody can do this. If you're one of the lucky ones...great! If not, well, in the words of Judge Smails, the world needs ditch-diggers too.


And so I say to Jsonmay: Nobody can tell you what to do. You have to do what's in your heart. You've gotten your eyes opened a bit now - you see how hard this will be. The realities of entering this industry at the bottom of the ladder are pretty harsh. Is it "worth" it? You're the only one who can answer that question. It takes a level of commitment and dedication that is unreal. Best of luck to you!

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What Nearly Retired said: Not everybody can do this; not everybody who can do it can make a living at it; and if you get there, become a professional helicopter pilot and are being paid for it- you will start by making very little and you will most likely work in 'the middle of nowhere', that's where and what helicopters do, mostly.


You have to want it more than anything, period. Because it ain't really a logical financial decision for the first few years. Even without the $60,000 debt load or equivalent, there were very, very humble years. Yes, there are 'better' jobs after a couple years and a thousand, fifteen hundred hours (or more) but the first couple years are lean, at best.


All that said- you are at the worst point of the training process, nearing but not yet soloed. It doesn't get any easier after the solo, at least for me, but the solo was an encouraging and significant point in the process. Everybody struggles with the book work, you're learning arcane regulatory, technical stuff.


Have you tried a different instructor? Not every teacher hits the mark with every student.


Could you change schools?


Why would you want to stop at PPL if your goal is commercial? Interrupting the training process is almost always a problem. And, training won't get any cheaper in the future.




P.S. It ain't 'cheaper or easier' to go the military route. It's extremely competitive, even when there was a war on. Then, Uncle Sam makes you dress funny and is real bossy, sending you to places where people don't like you.

Edited by Wally
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As the others have said, this is not something to be half hearted about.

Now if your doubts are the result of your current struggles, talk to your instructors about some one on one time......it is their job to make sure you get the concepts as it is your job to try your hardest.

On the point regarding getting your PPL only I would add this: One of the few tax breaks in Canada is for professional training as it is treated like tuition. There are no tax breaks for private training. Nobody is going to get a helicopter PPL in 45 hours, the average being between 65 and 75 hours.

The money back from a tuition claim almost makes up the difference to bring you to the 100 hours for your commercial, depending on how close you live to your school and the related travel and living expenses.

One last point. If you decide to stick it out and are prepared to work for an operator doing non flying jobs for 1 to 3 years to prove yourself you will be fine. Remember that time doing those jobs is still exposure and it is not a long time in the big picture.





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  • 1 month later...

Thank you all for the encouraging words!!! and view on the subject from another angle. I DIDN'T QUIT. Not long after that I sat with one of the part time instructors and told him my concerns and explained my struggles. He has been amazing working with me sense. I solo'd days latter and am now at the 45 hour mark. I am knocking all the practice written exams out of the park and write the TC CHPL test ten days from tomorrow. Every day I go home and say "today was one of the best days of my life" because of a great flight!  I love it and Im gonna do what I have to do to make it!! 

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