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FlyawayNate

Thinking about starting a new career as a pilot - Advice?

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Nate,

 

Have you done a demo ride yet or have you ridden in a helicopter before? Straight up, some people just can't handle it so get a few demo rides under your belt and a Second Class medical out of the way before jumping into anything. 

 

If you're okay with living under minimum wage and moving your family all around for 4-7 years before getting your first "real" flying job and you have a supportive spouse then go for it! 

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Although maintenance is a problem in helicopter aviation, I haven't found it the dystopian hellscape described. Most of the larger part 135 operators are generally pretty decent but part 91 operators are often really bad, especially the smaller ones. Most of them are small. Your boss is probably the owner in a small company and helicopter parts are insanely expensive not too the mention there's the lost revenue while you wait for your $10,000 (or easily more) part(s). You will be expected to fly unairworthy aircraft at some companies. Training will also be an after thought at most of these places. It's always a package deal. Just one more reason to forget helicopters and head for 121 airlplane flying. 

I work for one of the better EMS operators. We have very good training, aircraft and maintenance. Never ever a hint of pressure to fly and a flight can be turned down by anybody for any reason. You will never be questioned. You're the PIC, end of story. I really have not ever experienced pressure to fly anywhere I've worked, though. I can't complain about my situation but even the best helicopter job cannot compete with flying for a major airline, UPS Fedex, etc.. That's the reality.

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On 6/1/2020 at 10:05 AM, FlyawayNate said:

Who I want to hear from:
Current students, CFIs or those who have started this career path within the last 5 years.
Was it worth it? 
How difficult was it to find employment after graduation? After 1000 hours? 2000? 
Is the pay really as bad as it seems? What do you even consider "bad" pay? 

Hi Nate,

Tough decision.  I was 36 when I decided to chase the dream.  Had a good career as an electrician, which to me meant lots of time off at the expense of not making a lot of money (I was earning $30-40k for half a years work).  I think that there is a lot of solid advice here already, so instead of repeating it I'll just share my experience over the last 6 years.

I started flight school in 2014.  Flight school took just under a year going full time, no work and very little time put into anything other than flying and studying.  That was 0-200 hours and it cost about $90K.  It can be and has been done for less, but that's what it cost me. 

Here's a tip to help figure out the real cost from any school; multiply 200 hours by the hourly rate of their cheapest aircraft.  That will still be less than you'll pay because there will be ground hours, checkride costs, and other materials like books, headset, etc.  But the bulk of the cost is paying for 200 hours of flight time.  Even at $250 an hour (which I think is still about as cheap as you'll find) that's $50k just for the flight time.

How difficult is it to find employment with 200 hours?  I got a job at my flight school a month after I finished my training, which would have been 2015.  As an instructor I worked 7 days a week and was usually at school 10+ hours a day.  Not flying or even working most of it; lot's of sitting around not getting paid waiting between students.  After working for the flight school 9 months I had made about $18k and built up 300 hours bringing me to 500 total time.

In 2016 at 500 hours I left instruction.  Not because I didn't like it, I actually liked teaching a lot.  But the hour building was going slowly, or so it appeared to me, and I wanted to start a "real" job.  Mostly I left because I was in the right place at the right time and the tourism job kind of fell in my lap.  Otherwise I would have continued with instruction for however long it took.  In tours I had a decent schedule, working 5 to 6 days (sometimes 7) a week, 4 to 12 hours a day, and making $25k a year + tips.  I had that job for 13 months and flew almost 900 hours bringing me to about 1400 total time.

How difficult is it to find employment with 1000 hours?  In 2017 I took a job flying tours in a turbine.  I worked 7 days a week, up to 14 hours a day, and earned $26k the first season (6 months) and $27k the second season (4 1/2 months).  It wasn't too hard to get that job, but again, right place and right time.  I had applied for a few other similar positions and heard nothing back from them, so it's not like the jobs were raining from the sky.  It's not easy, it's not hard.  It takes persistence, networking, and timing.  Everyone's experience will be different.  In the end, for me, getting a job with 1,000 hours was no easier or harder than with 200 or 500.

How difficult is it to find employment with 2000 hours?  After the summer of 2018 I had about 2000 hours and almost 500 of it was turbine.  I thought I could finally try and hit the big leagues and get into utility, which was my dream from the start.  At the beginning of 2019 I applied with (emailed, called, talked to, etc.) about 20 companies everywhere and anywhere I could.  Only one offer and not the one I wanted either.  But I took it anyway, because I wanted to try and move forward into utility and that's what it takes.  I worked 6 months straight (available every day), mostly 10+ hour days, and earned almost $40k.

Finding a job:  I honestly don't think it is any easier to find a job with 2000 hours than it is with 200.  Why?  Because of specific experience.  At 200 you want to be an instructor, but you don't have any experience instructing.  At 500 or 1000 you want to be a tour pilot and maybe fly a turbine, but you have no tour or turbine experience.  At 2000 you want to get into HEMS or utility, but again you have no experience, so things don't change much.  With 1000 hours of utility, or fire, or HEMS, or whatever maybe it would be different...until you wanted to change fields!  But I can't tell you since I'm not there yet.

Would I do it again/Was it worth it?  I'm happy with my decision.  It has been incredibly difficult, mostly in ways I never would have predicted, and in many ways my quality of life as an electrician was much better.  Pretty much everything these guys have said is true, it's kind of a brutal industry and a tough, under appreciated job.  But I love flying and I've actually enjoyed the jobs I've had so far in the industry.  It's been a sacrifice and that hasn't changed yet, even at 6 years and 2000 hours.

Hope this helps, if you go for it you'll probably have a totally different experience with a similar thread.  Good luck!

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On 6/2/2020 at 3:20 PM, Orin said:

Hi Nate,

Tough decision.  I was 36 when I decided to chase the dream.  Had a good career as an electrician, which to me meant lots of time off at the expense of not making a lot of money (I was earning $30-40k for half a years work).  I think that there is a lot of solid advice here already, so instead of repeating it I'll just share my experience over the last 6 years.

I started flight school in 2014.  Flight school took just under a year going full time, no work and very little time put into anything other than flying and studying.  That was 0-200 hours and it cost about $90K.  It can be and has been done for less, but that's what it cost me. 

Here's a tip to help figure out the real cost from any school; multiply 200 hours by the hourly rate of their cheapest aircraft.  That will still be less than you'll pay because there will be ground hours, checkride costs, and other materials like books, headset, etc.  But the bulk of the cost is paying for 200 hours of flight time.  Even at $250 an hour (which I think is still about as cheap as you'll find) that's $50k just for the flight time.

How difficult is it to find employment with 200 hours?  I got a job at my flight school a month after I finished my training, which would have been 2015.  As an instructor I worked 7 days a week and was usually at school 10+ hours a day.  Not flying or even working most of it; lot's of sitting around not getting paid waiting between students.  After working for the flight school 9 months I had made about $18k and built up 300 hours bringing me to 500 total time.

In 2016 at 500 hours I left instruction.  Not because I didn't like it, I actually liked teaching a lot.  But the hour building was going slowly, or so it appeared to me, and I wanted to start a "real" job.  Mostly I left because I was in the right place at the right time and the tourism job kind of fell in my lap.  Otherwise I would have continued with instruction for however long it took.  In tours I had a decent schedule, working 5 to 6 days (sometimes 7) a week, 4 to 12 hours a day, and making $25k a year + tips.  I had that job for 13 months and flew almost 900 hours bringing me to about 1400 total time.

How difficult is it to find employment with 1000 hours?  In 2017 I took a job flying tours in a turbine.  I worked 7 days a week, up to 14 hours a day, and earned $26k the first season (6 months) and $27k the second season (4 1/2 months).  It wasn't too hard to get that job, but again, right place and right time.  I had applied for a few other similar positions and heard nothing back from them, so it's not like the jobs were raining from the sky.  It's not easy, it's not hard.  It takes persistence, networking, and timing.  Everyone's experience will be different.  In the end, for me, getting a job with 1,000 hours was no easier or harder than with 200 or 500.

How difficult is it to find employment with 2000 hours?  After the summer of 2018 I had about 2000 hours and almost 500 of it was turbine.  I thought I could finally try and hit the big leagues and get into utility, which was my dream from the start.  At the beginning of 2019 I applied with (emailed, called, talked to, etc.) about 20 companies everywhere and anywhere I could.  Only one offer and not the one I wanted either.  But I took it anyway, because I wanted to try and move forward into utility and that's what it takes.  I worked 6 months straight (available every day), mostly 10+ hour days, and earned almost $40k.

Finding a job:  I honestly don't think it is any easier to find a job with 2000 hours than it is with 200.  Why?  Because of specific experience.  At 200 you want to be an instructor, but you don't have any experience instructing.  At 500 or 1000 you want to be a tour pilot and maybe fly a turbine, but you have no tour or turbine experience.  At 2000 you want to get into HEMS or utility, but again you have no experience, so things don't change much.  With 1000 hours of utility, or fire, or HEMS, or whatever maybe it would be different...until you wanted to change fields!  But I can't tell you since I'm not there yet.

Would I do it again/Was it worth it?  I'm happy with my decision.  It has been incredibly difficult, mostly in ways I never would have predicted, and in many ways my quality of life as an electrician was much better.  Pretty much everything these guys have said is true, it's kind of a brutal industry and a tough, under appreciated job.  But I love flying and I've actually enjoyed the jobs I've had so far in the industry.  It's been a sacrifice and that hasn't changed yet, even at 6 years and 2000 hours.

Hope this helps, if you go for it you'll probably have a totally different experience with a similar thread.  Good luck!

Probably the best response I've seen yet. Answers a lot of questions perfectly. 

A few more questions for anyone who may know:

Turbine time: How do you get it if you've never had it? What about twin turbine? Most jobs I've seen require it out of the gate. Do you just have to get lucky finding a job that will train you?

NV Requirements: To get certified looks to be around $10,000. Is this something I should do myself after getting CFII? I see a lot of job postings asking for you to be certified with X number of hours. Same with before, do you just have to get lucky to find a job that will pay for this certification or is it worth it to do myself? 

Approximately how many years should I expect to instruct until I hit the 1000 hour mark? Is the pay really that low all around? Most people seem to keep quoting the $25,000-ish per year figure. Is this pretty accurate? 

I've seen articles talking about "pilot shortages" written anywhere from 5 days ago, 5 years ago, 10+ years ago. Are these just gimmicks to hook people into paying $70,000-$100,000 for flight school only to find out there aren't many jobs available, and the few that are pay really low - or is there a legit shortage? 

What is the ultimate goal? At what point do you decide "I've finally made it, I can stop counting hours towards my next gig"? Is it HEMS? What is the pay scale like at those top tier jobs? Do more hours past 10,000-ish make you more employable, or just more expensive to retain? 

Insurance - what kind of insurance should I have beyond the obvious life policies? 

Type rating - eventually I'd like to fly medium lift or twin turbine. How do I obtain a type rating certification for a specific model? For example, if I want to fly UH-60s, are those pretty much reserved for prior-service guys or is there a place guys like me could get trained to fly them after other hour requirements are met down the road? 

Should I trust employers that ask me to pay for flight time on top of doing a job for them? Are double dippers common? 

What is a reasonable amount to pay for obtaining the first 200 hours plus commercial/CFII for R22 and R44? I see quotes ranging from $60k to $100k. Are there any hidden costs I should look out for? 

The first 10 years in any career field are the hardest in terms of hours/pay. Does it get better or should I keep expecting low pay and long hours until retirement? Not that I'm going into this for the pay, but it would still be nice to have some cheddar. 

What are types of jobs I should look out for? Any I should avoid? Have you ever taken a job that 6 months later you regret taking? Why? 

Who decides what conditions you do/don't fly in? If you don't feel safe flying - either because of the equipment or weather, do you make the call? 

If I do end up financing some of flight school, are there places I should apply first before going for a personal loan from a bank? How do you even get qualified for a loan if you have zero income during flight school and not expected to make very much afterward? 

What should I avoid during flight school? What should I REALLY focus on? 


Sorry it's an avalanche of questions, there's a lot to figure out and I'm still in the process of wrapping my mind around a lot of it. Forgive me if they're obvious or have been answered elsewhere in the forums. I'm clicking and reading as many posts as I have time for. 

Thanks!
 

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This is just my two cents on this commonly asked question.  A little background:  I have been a commercial helicopter pilot since 1998.  Like you, I was always interested in helicopters and wanted to pursue that as a career.  I eventually got to a point that I decided that I would rather try at 29 years old and possibly fail than be in my retirement years and wish that I would have tried.  I was married (first wife) without children or other encumbrances like owning a home (relocation was fairly easy for training).  At the time, federal loans were not offered for helicopter flight training.  I took out a couple of personal loans for training and proceeded to spend around $36,000 for my 200 hours of training (twenty two years ago dollars).  I wanted to move up through the experience levels as a pilot as quickly as possible so I chose to pursue the CFI route (I currently know two Commercial pilots who don't want to teach and it has taken them close to 4 years to fly 300 hours doing anything other than instruction).  Thirteen months of 50 hours a week at the school (training/studying) resulted in obtaining my ratings.  As a recently anointed CFI, my annual earnings were around $24,000 gross.  It was a busy flight school so I was able to build time "quickly".  I taught for about a year and a half and when the time presented itself (calendar wise as it was a seasonal position I was applying for), I applied for and was offered a seasonal tour position in SE Alaska (just over 1,050 hours PIC).  This turned into a full time position after the second season where I stayed for a total of five years.   It wasn't until probably my second year full time in SE Alaska that I was earning a livable wage.  Since then I have flown tours in Vegas and EMS and Utility in Oregon.  I recently went the Federal route for my next chapter as I wanted a more consistent schedule which Utility rarely offers.  The following suggestions are based on one person's experiences and will not reflect everybody's experience in the industry.

Your questions:

Most entry level turbine jobs do not require previous turbine experience i.e. tours.  If they feel you are a safe candidate, they will train you in their turbine aircraft.  I would not pay for turbine time. 

The same goes for NVG.  The employers I worked for trained me on their NVG program.

A reputable employer will not push you to make unsafe decisions based on weather or aircraft conditions.  This doesn't mean that there are not many who would.  Also.... your comfort level with weather will be different than another pilot's level.  Neither is wrong as long as the flight is conducted legally and a safe outcome is never in question.

Choose a flight school with a reasonable amount of aircraft and instructors.  A question you might ask while you are visiting them (go meet them in person before you choose to give them your money) would be to see how far out the instructors/aircraft are booked out.  You don't want to only be able to fly once per week because there are more students than the school can work with full time.

As for some of the other questions, it would seem that the more dangerous/skilled the project or the less desirable the work location or schedule, the more money you will be paid.  I am sure this is not the rule but just one guy's opinion. 

Also.... this career takes time.  You can not expect to jump into being a PIC in a Blackhawk in the first couple of years of employment. 

As for the jobs available.... once you are in this career you will recognize that it is a small community.  The person that you pissed off at a heli-base a few years ago because you blew FOD over his aircraft on approach may be a hiring manager at the next company.  Be respectful of others and a professional pilot and you will end up with a network of friends who will call you telling you about your next potential job before it is even advertised on the forums.  What you know is important (yours skills and reputation can get you the job) but who you know can get you in the door for an interview.

If you choose to go this route, good for you.  I do not regret it.  There were many sacrifices along the way but the flying was really fun.  Please take this choice seriously as it affects all those around you (family) as well (we have all had friends killed in accidents over the years).  Have fun and fly safe.

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28 minutes ago, onepilot'sopinion said:

This is just my two cents on this commonly asked question.  A little background:  I have been a commercial helicopter pilot since 1998.  Like you, I was always interested in helicopters and wanted to pursue that as a career.  I eventually got to a point that I decided that I would rather try at 29 years old and possibly fail than be in my retirement years and wish that I would have tried.  I was married (first wife) without children or other encumbrances like owning a home (relocation was fairly easy for training).  At the time, federal loans were not offered for helicopter flight training.  I took out a couple of personal loans for training and proceeded to spend around $36,000 for my 200 hours of training (twenty two years ago dollars).  I wanted to move up through the experience levels as a pilot as quickly as possible so I chose to pursue the CFI route (I currently know two Commercial pilots who don't want to teach and it has taken them close to 4 years to fly 300 hours doing anything other than instruction).  Thirteen months of 50 hours a week at the school (training/studying) resulted in obtaining my ratings.  As a recently anointed CFI, my annual earnings were around $24,000 gross.  It was a busy flight school so I was able to build time "quickly".  I taught for about a year and a half and when the time presented itself (calendar wise as it was a seasonal position I was applying for), I applied for and was offered a seasonal tour position in SE Alaska (just over 1,050 hours PIC).  This turned into a full time position after the second season where I stayed for a total of five years.   It wasn't until probably my second year full time in SE Alaska that I was earning a livable wage.  Since then I have flown tours in Vegas and EMS and Utility in Oregon.  I recently went the Federal route for my next chapter as I wanted a more consistent schedule which Utility rarely offers.  The following suggestions are based on one person's experiences and will not reflect everybody's experience in the industry.

Your questions:

Most entry level turbine jobs do not require previous turbine experience i.e. tours.  If they feel you are a safe candidate, they will train you in their turbine aircraft.  I would not pay for turbine time. 

The same goes for NVG.  The employers I worked for trained me on their NVG program.

A reputable employer will not push you to make unsafe decisions based on weather or aircraft conditions.  This doesn't mean that there are not many who would.  Also.... your comfort level with weather will be different than another pilot's level.  Neither is wrong as long as the flight is conducted legally and a safe outcome is never in question.

Choose a flight school with a reasonable amount of aircraft and instructors.  A question you might ask while you are visiting them (go meet them in person before you choose to give them your money) would be to see how far out the instructors/aircraft are booked out.  You don't want to only be able to fly once per week because there are more students than the school can work with full time.

As for some of the other questions, it would seem that the more dangerous/skilled the project or the less desirable the work location or schedule, the more money you will be paid.  I am sure this is not the rule but just one guy's opinion. 

Also.... this career takes time.  You can not expect to jump into being a PIC in a Blackhawk in the first couple of years of employment. 

As for the jobs available.... once you are in this career you will recognize that it is a small community.  The person that you pissed off at a heli-base a few years ago because you blew FOD over his aircraft on approach may be a hiring manager at the next company.  Be respectful of others and a professional pilot and you will end up with a network of friends who will call you telling you about your next potential job before it is even advertised on the forums.  What you know is important (yours skills and reputation can get you the job) but who you know can get you in the door for an interview.

If you choose to go this route, good for you.  I do not regret it.  There were many sacrifices along the way but the flying was really fun.  Please take this choice seriously as it affects all those around you (family) as well (we have all had friends killed in accidents over the years).  Have fun and fly safe.

I appreciate the advice, thank you! 

You're right, this isn't something I want to just jump into blindly. There are a number of factors I have to consider before settling on it. The more I hear from all of you, the better informed my decisions are. I will be visiting a handful of flight schools and have a list of questions for each. I understand the risks and sacrifices involved. If I'm prepared to give up a $75K+ career to start over from scratch as a pilot, I better make damn sure I'm dedicated enough to go the distance and stick with it. Thank you again. 

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The reality is somewhere between 2-5 years after you start training before you're going to be generally employable.

The low side is if you're picked up by a flight school, fly a lot of students and establish a useful aviation network.

The high side is where the persistent finally find work and the rest drop out.

$100k, 2-5 years, and then 50-60 hours a week on the job in Bumscrabble nowhere, moving the family every year or so?

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39 minutes ago, Wally said:

The reality is somewhere between 2-5 years after you start training before you're going to be generally employable.

The low side is if you're picked up by a flight school, fly a lot of students and establish a useful aviation network.

The high side is where the persistent finally find work and the rest drop out.

$100k, 2-5 years, and then 50-60 hours a week on the job in Bumscrabble nowhere, moving the family every year or so?

2-5 years before you're generally employable is pretty much the norm in any career field though. I work in IT and it takes about that long before you're considered knowledgeable enough to be a solid hire, so I don't expect any less from this industry. 

The only upside to this whole process is that I'll have enough to completely cover my initial 200 hour training and certifications. I have a degree in Network Administration and 10 years of technical experience, so I don't think I'll struggle very much with the knowledge/testing portions. If I can get half a dozen tech certs reading dry manuals, this *should* be easier since I'm actually interested in it. Plus that degree and experience is my safety net in case jobs are scarce. I can pick up a cheap/temp desktop support job anywhere to fill the gap between flying seasons. 

I have my first demonstration flight this Friday at my first flight school. I'll update here afterward because I'm sure I'll have more questions. 

Again - thank you all for chipping in with your advice. 

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Have a couple of trial flights, and visit more than one school for these flights.

Simply having degrees and being able to read a manual won't be what gets you through. I have had doctors, lawyers, money market specialists, and plumbers, all of whom thought it would be a good move, but who all realised after 20 or 50 or 70 hours that they just didn't have what was needed to be a chopper pilot. Smart as heck, but some were unco-ordinated, or lacking physical dexterity, or just were too busy in their chosen fields to devote the time needed to know the stuff.

There even was one retired B747 captain, who owned his H500 and flew it on a private licence with 700 hrs already, who wanted to progress to commercial levels. But this man, used to giving orders to his crew, found that he just couldn't fly the aircraft, hold a map to navigate, and make radio calls all by himself. He went back to flying 747, and managed to plonk one down without having the nosewheel extended - incomplete checklist actions after an inflight engine shutdown.

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17 hours ago, Eric Hunt said:

Have a couple of trial flights, and visit more than one school for these flights.

Simply having degrees and being able to read a manual won't be what gets you through. I have had doctors, lawyers, money market specialists, and plumbers, all of whom thought it would be a good move, but who all realised after 20 or 50 or 70 hours that they just didn't have what was needed to be a chopper pilot. Smart as heck, but some were unco-ordinated, or lacking physical dexterity, or just were too busy in their chosen fields to devote the time needed to know the stuff.

There even was one retired B747 captain, who owned his H500 and flew it on a private licence with 700 hrs already, who wanted to progress to commercial levels. But this man, used to giving orders to his crew, found that he just couldn't fly the aircraft, hold a map to navigate, and make radio calls all by himself. He went back to flying 747, and managed to plonk one down without having the nosewheel extended - incomplete checklist actions after an inflight engine shutdown.

Understood. Good advice, thank you! 

I'll definitely keep that in mind. I know my current profession is apples/oranges to flying. Just hoping the skills I picked up in one help translate to the other. 

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On 6/1/2020 at 2:05 PM, FlyawayNate said:

Who I want to hear from:
How difficult was it to find employment after graduation? After 1000 hours? 2000? 
Is the pay really as bad as it seems? What do you even consider "bad" pay? 
Veteran pilots: How has the career field changed in the last 5, 10, 20+ years? 

1500-2000 hours is a more reliable standard for being widely employable.  With an IFR ticket and some IFR experience, night time.

A year, give or take to get your basic ratings.  4-5 hours a week through your private, then you can pick up the pace to an hour plus a day.  Weather, aircraft availability are always a factor adding delay.

There's a fair bit of book time required to learn the rules, regs, take the tests, etc.

I've seen some really good small schools and some really good big schools. And vice versa. A big school will offer you options when an aircraft is down or your progress plateaus. That will happen. The instructor-student relationship is what you're looking for. Sometimes a really good instructor can't find the key to understand your issues in the process and teach you through it

 A favorable local climate is a plus, more flying days means more efficient instruction.

You should be willing to move to get these things. You should be willing to travel to find these things. After your first 5-10 hours, you'll have a better idea whether this is what you want to do. It's not flying around listening to tunes and sight-seeing- it's work.

 

As far as I know, there are three paths to the door to the career:

The military;

Pay your own way, all the way. I know pilots who have done this, live stark, work hard, save money between ratings, and then buy time until they find a job. Another way I've seen this done: start a helicopter company;

Instruct, build a network in the industry. Even with a busy school, it can take years to get to 1500-2000.  Variation- fly tours as soon as you can get a job. The money seems to be more regular in tours and you can fly a lot with some tour jobs.

You are going to move at least a couple times in the process. To the school, to the instructing/tour job, to the next and the next. Even when you get the long term employer, the positions move around.

Money? minimum wage up to $100k.

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Okay first off the one bit of advice I haven't seen yet (or glossed over is DO NOT pay for everything up front! Schools can and do close and walk away with your money.

 If they want to give you a discount for 5-10 hour blocks fine but no more than you're willing to lose.

And since you've gotten so much good advice already I'll just give you a few anecdotes from my career. I started flight school in 2012 and just this year got my first no sh*t good job. I have had 8 jobs and have had to move 13 times since finishing flight school. I quit three of those jobs over maintenance that was straight up deadly. I love what I do but it is a tough life. I can't even count how many relationships I've had fall apart because of it. The company I work for has great mx but that doesn't mean I won't die tomorrow because of a mistake I make, because my mechanic is having marital problems(hypothetical), or a problem didn't get noticed in the factory and a part fails earlier than designed. Since I've been flying I've had a friend die in a crash every two years. 

 

Your attitude that flying for fun would be throwing money away is if concern. When your boss threatens to fire you if you don't do something unsafe/illegal will you be able to walk away? Especially since you're living in poverty as a new pilot? Why not get your fixed wing and rent? 

Anyway, you can do this and be successful. But do you want it bad enough to put in the hardwork? Is it worth what you'll lose? I wouldn't change what I did but I started as a gypsy bachelor with no debt and a gi bill to pay for it all.

 

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On 6/11/2020 at 2:29 AM, Eric Hunt said:

 

There even was one retired B747 captain, who owned his H500 and flew it on a private licence with 700 hrs already, who wanted to progress to commercial levels. But this man, used to giving orders to his crew, found that he just couldn't fly the aircraft, hold a map to navigate, and make radio calls all by himself. He went back to flying 747, and managed to plonk one down without having the nosewheel extended - incomplete checklist actions after an inflight engine shutdown.

No, this did not happen either.

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Thoghts-

any charter operator must train you on their airframe, give you a checkride.  Having some time in it is a plus in the hiring process but they still have to train you, 10 hours or 10,000 hours.

Same for twin engine, nvg.

A new pilot should avoid HEMS like an STD. Start a HEMS job with 1500 hours and retire after 40 years with 7500 hours flying the same stick (or worse than) you  hired on with. You will never have 'pushed weather", done a lot of stupid stuff that teaches you not to do that!  Wait until at least 3000 hours and a job next door to go HEMS.

Edited by Wally

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A lot of great advice, I appreciate it. 

So I did have my first demonstration flight up at Glacier Aviation in Washington State. Seems like a pretty good, steady/stable operation. Still gathering more info on this - and other flight schools before I start carving in stone. 

Money-wise I plan on having the full amount for flight school up to 200 hours and CFII ratings before I even start. Plus have enough for living expenses for the duration of flight school and then some a little afterward in the (likely) event I'm not hired straight out of training. 

Everyone loves to drive home the point about how hard it will be and how it will affect relationships, etc... and if it does, it does. That's not exclusive to the Helicopter industry. I'm prepared for 5-10 years of moving/switching jobs, but in the end it will be worth it because it beats the hell out of my current (or any former) job I've ever had. I made sure to bring my wife and made sure she fully understands the difficulties ahead. She watches the same videos I do, reads the same stuff I do, and knows whats ahead. Will she be able to stick with it for the duration? I don't know, but sounds like we're both willing to make it work. 

Keep it coming! 



 

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Good for you Nate, having a wife who actually displays some interest is a bonus. I was teaching a student in his own B206, and when it came to the navigation phase, he put his wife and 2 kids in the back seat. We flew into gorgeous scenic areas, stayed at a unique underground hotel, flew more the next day, and back to his home city.

When we were running the engine down, I asked him "What was the most important thing you learned on these flights?"

His wife jumped in and said "READ THE F***ING MAP!!"

Perhaps I may have said that a couple of times...

  • Haha 1

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On 6/16/2020 at 3:16 AM, Eric Hunt said:

Good for you Nate, having a wife who actually displays some interest is a bonus. I was teaching a student in his own B206, and when it came to the navigation phase, he put his wife and 2 kids in the back seat. We flew into gorgeous scenic areas, stayed at a unique underground hotel, flew more the next day, and back to his home city.

When we were running the engine down, I asked him "What was the most important thing you learned on these flights?"

His wife jumped in and said "READ THE F***ING MAP!!"

Perhaps I may have said that a couple of times...

Hmmmmmm....

I don't doubt that at least the  last part of that story is, unfortunately, probably true. 

Edited by helonorth

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Nate, 

Im not much of a technology guy so not sure how to connect without giving all the weirdos in internet land my phone number but if you’re still around and still looking for some input I’d be more than happy to speak with you over the phone. Too many complex ins and outs of this industry to get a true feel of it on this forum, but I’m a guy just a few years older than you that was in similar shoes about 8 years ago and would love to discuss it with you. You sound like a family man, I like and respect that. This industry is hard on families. It’s a hard, long road but it can be done. Anyway, if you’re still around let’s figure out how to connect. 

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