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Advice and Information about getting a PPL(H) in the US as a foreigner


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Hello everyone. So I plan on getting a Private License for Helicopters from the US (I'm not from or in the US) and after some searching I came to the conclusion that getting instruction privately is better than going to a school for multiple reasons-
1. Flight schools forces you to stay for a certain amount of time rather than letting you blaze through the required hours. (Allegedly, For obvious reasons)
2. Flight schools cost almost 50% more than I can afford without putting me in the big negatives and all I want at the moment is a Private license so I can take my time, Build experience and go commercial.

3. I don't have a lot of time to spare since I intend to come into the country, learn and get the license, and then leave for a while. (I plan on returning after I get an unrelated job to make enough to support my finances on my road to CPL)
4. The flexibility of private instruction seems much better.

5. Smaller schools only have so much Helicopters to go around for everyone
*Feel free to correct or straighten out any of the things I've got confused and/or wrong

Now I am aware that schools have better equipment, more experts and such but I'd much like to save money if I could since I'm young and I don't have a income source set in stone yet. Now the questions I have with all of this is- 

1. Since I'm not a citizen or resident, I need to be filtered by the TSA but the TSA's AFSP guidelines says to 'Notify the Flight School'. Is private instruction out of my reach then?
2. Since the US is a big country it's really hard to find the best instructors,prices, or schools without help from locals. I want to cut costs as much as I can without being badly instructed or being unsafe.

3. I've thought about buying a used helicopter to clock my hours in it and then selling it before I leave temporarily. I want to know if maintenance,fuel, and storage will cost so much that It'll be a loss for me. Is this possible or even a good idea?

4. I've been told that if I find anyone with some time, a helicopter and/or the ability to instruct that I can smoothly get through this without blowing a hole through my wallet.
5. Also read that covering your ground stuff beforehand helps. Is that true?

So can anyone with information or anything of help pitch in and help me out here? 
And for a base Idea of where I stand financially and how much time I can allot . Best case scenario I get the PPL(H) in a month, Worst case being half a year(I'd probably need to get a job to support my basic monetary needs if I take this long to be honest). 

My budget is somewhere around 10K to 15K-ish USD (Excluding living expenses, I'm think I'm not delusional. Do not hesitate to tell me if that budget of mine is delusional haha)



I'd appreciate it if someone with enough free time to entertain my doubts and queries shows up. If so drop a reply.


Lastly, This is just my very first draft of a plan after looking up some stuff about it so I am aware this could be outright impossible to achieve. If that's the case I'll change my plans according to whatever you let me know and if my budget is insufficient I'll just wait till I get more money but then I'll be older than I'd like to have as a starting point and overall just later than I prefer.

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- your budget should be more like USD 15-20k

- sit the theory exam on first day in US and get it behind you

- four weeks would be tight; more like five weeks total

- just choose a school; what you’ve described about mythical private CFI’s who own their own helicopter and charge 50% reduced rates is dreamland

- your “buy a helicopter and sell it a month later” idea is comical


I live in the UK and did my initial FAA PPL(H) in US and then EASA PPL(H) three months later in UK.  The reason was that it was 2006 and the USD/GBP exchange rate was over 2:1 – so less than half price.

As for helicopters to rent in the US, they have a very limited private flying scene for helicopters (though the US is fantastic for fixed wing).  Even once licenced and with many hours, you will struggle to find R44s for self-fly-hire (unlike other countries).

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On 5/14/2021 at 6:58 PM, RisePilot said:

- your budget should be more like USD 15-20k

- sit the theory exam on first day in US and get it behind you

- four weeks would be tight; more.......

Ah my bad. I figured it was probably not very plausible from the get-go 😂


I have a question- If my end goal was to be an EMS pilot/offshore pilot/fire fighting pilot (one of the higher end, fast paced jobs basically) How much time and money would it take considering the CPL,the hours,the instrument rating, etc.? 

Bear in mind I wont have any money preemptively saved up so I'll be supporting myself through work and already have a PPL-H (hypothetically. I hope it I do by then)

Can I do that in 10 years or is it a pipe dream as well? And if I can, What would be the most efficient route to reach that goal?


Now back to the issue at hand. I need to find a school.

I've looked at helicopteracademy and summerskyz but they seem a bit off to me. 

Hillsboro and SUU seems both overkill though SUU's fleet looked impressive and Hillsboro's 'Pay as you go' was enticing 😅.

These are the only ones that show up when I do a google search. 


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