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Potential newcomer advice


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Hello everyone,

Thanks for taking a look at my post. First one here and would love some feedback on my thoughts.

 

I am looking at a potential career change. Currently I work in finance and am fairly successful at it. Been doing this for about 10 years and have turned age 30.

Being a pilot has always been a childhood dream of mine. Helicopters have fascinated me specifically due to just the mechanics and physics. Anyway, for someone looking to join this potential area, obviously coming from zero experience is a concern.

Here are a few questions that I would like to ask. 

1. I know I weigh too much. Currently at about 280lbs I have always been large. I have wrestled heavy weight since being a sophomore in HS. This means I have the ability to cut weight but realistically, the smallest I have been in my adulthood was 218lbs. I don't think I can get down to 175 without being a skeleton. I am also about 6'1'' so my frame doesn't allow much flexibility.

2. Cost for school. I can pay my way with my current earnings but I wouldn't want to leave my current position until I completed enough experience to get a job. Is that even realistic? Would the time part time school even be possible to get enough flight hours? I know for sure my earning potential will not be high for quite some time.

3. Are degree programs worth it? I am sure my finance degree is useless in the aviation field, so seeking a specific undergrad would be a direction I would be open to go.

4. Should I just go the hobby route?

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Hey man!

Your questions are very well thought out. First off, you're a tall guy, I would recommend you stay away from the 22 if you can. Schweizers are more comfortable and typically students learn easier in them. The 44 is great for a bigger person as well, it is also slightly easier and more forgiving than a 22 (my experience) more power and faster. You may also find a school that uses Enstroms, I've been flown one personally but they seem more roomy than a 22. The biggest draw back to schweizers is that they are not as common as Robinsons are. As far as training frequency goes, for private initial training I would highly recommend three flights per week if you can swing it. No less than two. If you can mentally handle four to five training flights per week then more power to you and buy a big bottle of aspirin 😊. Personally, find the school YOU like. Find the instructor You like. Not all CFIs are created equal, or schools for that matter. Have fun with it, get to your solo and see how you feel. Get to your private check ride and see if you feel like commiting a little more. Be safe and have fun with it! 

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To add to my first reply, your current weight automatically takes you off the table for 22 training anyway so definitely 44 or schweizers. I'm not sure what the seat weight is on an Enstrom. To your question about working while you build flight time... absolutely. Plenty of guys out there flying part time. Mostly tours and flight instruction type stuff. The degree program thing is totally up to you. I never did it but I'm sure some guys here will click on that can give better advice on some of this stuff. I can only speak from my experience. Hope this helps!

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Thanks for the response. I appreciate the information and it really does give me some confidence to pursue this dream. I really just have to go out and start looking at booking a session with a CFI to see how it goes. 

Glad to hear part time training is not an issue. I suppose I never thought of the physical demand of multiple flights a week. That would definitely be an adjustment. 

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On 6/9/2021 at 9:53 PM, JDquest said:

Hello everyone,

Thanks for taking a look at my post. First one here and would love some feedback on my thoughts.

 

I am looking at a potential career change. Currently I work in finance and am fairly successful at it. Been doing this for about 10 years and have turned age 30.

Being a pilot has always been a childhood dream of mine. Helicopters have fascinated me specifically due to just the mechanics and physics. Anyway, for someone looking to join this potential area, obviously coming from zero experience is a concern.

Here are a few questions that I would like to ask. 

1. I know I weigh too much. Currently at about 280lbs I have always been large. I have wrestled heavy weight since being a sophomore in HS. This means I have the ability to cut weight but realistically, the smallest I have been in my adulthood was 218lbs. I don't think I can get down to 175 without being a skeleton. I am also about 6'1'' so my frame doesn't allow much flexibility.

2. Cost for school. I can pay my way with my current earnings but I wouldn't want to leave my current position until I completed enough experience to get a job. Is that even realistic? Would the time part time school even be possible to get enough flight hours? I know for sure my earning potential will not be high for quite some time.

3. Are degree programs worth it? I am sure my finance degree is useless in the aviation field, so seeking a specific undergrad would be a direction I would be open to go.

4. Should I just go the hobby route?

1.) Look into doing a keto / carnivore diet. Cutting out carbs has numerous health benefits, and you will lose a substantial amount of body fat.

Outside of flight training, body weight usually isn't a deal breaker. The exception is HAA; most of those jobs have a 230 lbs duty weight limit.

2.) Part time training is definitely possible, although it will take up all of your free time. Stacking up on night flying will be valuable; you'll need 100 hours at night for an ATP cert, and not many helicopter jobs operate at night. So do a couple night flights per week after work. Dedicate the entire weekend to studying/flying. 

Consistency is very important. Don't train one week, and then skip a week. Long breaks in between training will waste a lot of time/money.

3.) While required by many fixed wing jobs, a college degree is rarely expected within the helicopter industry. If you pursue a career on the fixed wing side instead, your finance degree will check that box.

4.) Possibly. Many things in life are more enjoyable as hobby. I love cooking, but would hate working as a chef (low pay, long hours, insanely fast work tempo, etc). Flying helicopters is an amazing experience, but doing it for a living isn't always glamourous.

Building flight time often times involves working for mediocre pay at a company with questionable practices. Even the largest corporations in the industry have problems; often times management is completely out of touch with what the job entails, and company culture/politics ruins an otherwise great job.

Pay overall is decent, but substantially lower than the fixed wing side. Tour/ENG pilots earn $60-70k annually. HAA and VFR offshore pilots earn between $70-90k a year. More is possible if you work extra shifts.

An IFR offshore captain can earn $100-140k. Working an international assignment pays more. 

Utility/ag/corporate pays the most. Can potentially earn $140k+ in those industries.

If you decide to pursue aviation recreationally, I'd advise going the fixed wing route instead. It is much more affordable, and the rental market for planes is much more accessible. Renting a helicopter from a flight school is very expensive/restrictive. Don't expect to be able to land off airport with it or take it on a multi-day trip. 

Planes provide a wide variety of experiences as well. Can use a high-wing aircraft for sightseeing, float plane for fishing, a bush-plane for hunting excursions, an aerobatic plane for joy-riding, etc.

Hope this helps.

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Hey, thanks for taking the time to write out your reply. This is great information. 

I suppose I should just try to get a private license and take it from there. 

Definitely losing weight is on the table right now just for health reasons alone. 

As far as cost, it does seem to be much more expensive than fixed wing. Just seeing that the overhaul of a entry level helicopter costing past six figures, provides a barrier to entry for private owners or renters. At this point, I am just glad I have the ability to pay for the school. 

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