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I'm still trying to decide which school I should go to. I thought I had narrowed it down to just a few. American Helicopters in Virginia was looking pretty good but a few things have come up. One issue is that they are not listed on Sallie Mae's website to apply for a loan. I got the impression that only listed schools were applicable. Also - I sent them an Email and received a reply a few days later. It occurred to me to ask about their accreditation (because I didn't see it mentioned and my understanding is that all 141 schools have to be accredited by a recognized organization) and if they had any numbers on Placement (Percentage wise). I might be jumping the gun but it’s coming up on a week since I've heard from them.

 

Vortex is still looking good but to get 200 Hours and an Instrument rating would be over $45,000 before I even consider living expenses. I was looking at Volar Helicopters who has a suspiciously attractive website that, as far as I can tell, never mentions whether they are 61 or 141. They are not listed at Salli Mae either.

 

Has anyone here been from 0 Hours to Employed? Possibly through a Professional Pilot program? I'm just concerned that all these programs are bunk and, realistically, there are no hour-building jobs available at only 150-200 hours. Should any of these schools be able to Give be a Percentage Placed number? Is this considered in their accreditation or only Pass/fail?

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Anyone can become a FAR Part 141 flight school.  It's not any kind of national accreditation like colleges have.  All you have to do is meet the FAA's minimum requirements (just like a pilot's certificate.)  Basically you develop a syllabus, do a lot of BS government paperwork, wait until it processes, and you're a 141 school.

 

I believe you're on a "provisional" or "probationary" status for the first two years.  After two years, if 80%+ have passed their checkride on the first try, you're a 141 school.  VERY EASY to attain when the school owner is also a FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE).  Just food for thought.

 

A 141 certification does not make a school any better than a straight 61 school.  In fact, the absence of the syllabus makes training much easier since you can jump around on subjects and flights.  The program can be tailored to the individual.  I went to a fixed wing 141 school for a while--it was a total pain in the azz.

 

The only thing good about 141 is that you can offer financing and issue visas.  You can get financing through Pt 61 schools, but you have to be enrolled in an affiliated college program (e.g. Utah Valley State College - www.pilotcareer.org).

 

These "Professional Pilot Programs" are no different than paying by the hour.  You are just paying for everything up front, getting a discount, and hopefully making it through before the school goes out of business.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you pay up front.  If the financing is approved, a school should have no problem letting you pay as you go (like $5,000 at a time.)  Because if they go out of business, you are SCREWED.  Also, they're eager to get their next payment, so they'll be flying with you a lot.

 

I went from 0 hrs to CFI to EMS through a 61 school.  There was no "set" program.  I did it at my own rate enabling me to go to college and grad school while I trained.  I worked at the school for a few years and then got hired on by an EMS operator.  During that time I trained quite a few people who are now [working] CFIs.

 

Hopefully the school you're training at will hire you when you get your CFI or at least help you build hours for free (maintenance/ferry flights).  You'll need 200-300 hrs before other schools will hire you to instruct.

 

Go check all of these places out before you do anything.  All a fancy website means is that they paid a lot of money for it.  Look at all these dot com retailers that are operated out of peoples' basements.  Go to the school, take a intro flight, ask a lot of questions, talk to other students, then evaluate.  Again, DO NOT pay for the whole program up front.  Any financially stable school will not give you a big discount in the first place.

 

Good luck!!

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"Go check all of these places out before you do anything.  All a fancy website means is that they paid a lot of money for it.  Look at all these dot com retailers that are operated out of peoples' basements.  Go to the school, take a intro flight, ask a lot of questions, talk to other students, then evaluate.  Again, DO NOT pay for the whole program up front.  Any financially stable school will not give you a big discount in the first place."

 

I agree with delorean big time. DO YOUR PHYSICAL home work visit these places, talk to the instructors, and the mechanics, NEVER judge a book by its cover when it come to this industry.

do not cut off the option of traveling to get your training.

if you do you restrict your options

I spent nearly 5 years traveling around the country getting my mechanics training, both military and civilian and then working in the field of my training. I lived and trained in states from coast to coast and all points in between. don't be afraid to take risks it'll make a better person out of ya.

feel free to PM me w/?'s

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Hi , I am a CFI who left his home country to follow my dream and I was lucky enough to find an excellent job . Choose very carefully which school to use , you mentioned Vortex and Volar . i have visited both places and I'd recommend Vortex in a heart beat I done my training in Florida and did'nt get hired with the school that i spent my money with ( no IR , could'nt afford it)

Vortex are very freindly and you will have the best chance of getting hired and they have good links with Air Log and PHI , so you'll be set .

 

Good luck !!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey Adam, American Helicopters is a "provisional" 141 school as posted on their webpage.  Just thought I'd throw that in... I havn't made the plunge yet, but I'm probably going to be going to Mauna Loa Helicopters in Hawaii, did my intro at Mazzei, and they seem pretty good too, however I think the benefit of the environment in Hawaii makes it much better...Dont' know about you but I have a wife, a 1 year old daughter and I'm 23, so this is going to be a tough journey, but from the feedback I get it will be worth it, hopefully! Good Luck, and by the way, I have over 80 Heli schools on my favorites list I can send it to you, any questions let me know, I have spent over 150 hours of research and looked at over 130 heli schoolsl

 

Jake

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I would love to fly Hawaii but it looks like it's well out of my price-range. I'm afraid I'm probably only looking for 141 schools. My understanding is that it is considerably harder (or impossible) to get a loan (at least from Sallie Mae) unless the school is 141. But if you saw any schools other than Mazzie, Vortex, & Valor that caught your eye, let me know.
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I would love to fly Hawaii but it looks like it's well out of my price-range. I'm afraid I'm probably only looking for 141 schools. My understanding is that it is considerably harder (or impossible) to get a loan (at least from Sallie Mae) unless the school is 141. But if you saw any schools other than Mazzie, Vortex, & Valor that caught your eye, let me know.

http://www.palmbeachhelicopters.com/

 

::potty::

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Hey Adam,

 

Looking at MLH's website, they are pretty competitive in general but yea, a little higher priced.  I think Vortex gives you a complete package with 200 hours but I'm not sure so check into that (their webpage was down or I'd have checked it for you)  to get the 200 hours req. for SFAR 73 over at MLH I plan to get my ppl,cpl,instrument,cfi,cfii,long line, and r44 transition (this should also allow for the the 25 hours to meet SFAR 73 in the 44 as well)  If im doing the math right it comes out to about $55k.  The one cool thing about HI is that you get mountain/high altitude included.  I'm not an expert by any means so that could just be a bonus I don't need but its a plus.  My outlook is that if I have to move far away to do my trianing, then why not HI! Good luck!

 

Jake

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Vortex has their Career program priced minus Insturment and at around 150 hours. They do say, below the cost break down, that you really need 200 hours and an Instrument rating which can be added at a given price, which is how I arrived at the $45K number. I'm not sure that you could really start your career without the 200 hours and it seems like instrument is required at this point as well so I wish they had just included that in the price. Companies that don't even mention SFAR73 (Like Valor, if I'm not mistaken) scare the crap out of me.

 

I'm fairly hesitant about this push towards McDonald's Style ordering. I looked at Palm Beach but I have to admit that their BigMac, BigMac w/Cheese, & Super Deluxe BigMac program outline helped shape my opinion about them and I never even called. Don't get me wrong, many other issues (mostly monetary in nature) weighed in on this. I guess that schools really need to do this to be competitive but it sure does seem cheesy to me. Plus, Palm beach has the Limo pickup and what not. I'm positive there is a market for this but it sure isn't me and I got the impression that they would probably not be hiring 200 hour CFIs. It's entirely likely that I have prejudged this school and it might be a huge mistake for me to overlook them, I'd love to hear from some people who have attended.

 

It seems like its very difficult to speak to the people that have been through these schools. I suppose they are out working with no interest in talking to many people who probably will never follow through with their plans. I have a post about getting a career loan but I'm afraid I probably wont hear from more than one or two people, if I'm very lucky, who have taken out loans and are now gainfully employed in the industry.

My biggest fear is that you don't hear from these people because they aren't out there. Or, perhaps it was doable 5, 10, 20 years ago but now with insurance the way it is, it doesn't work anymore.

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Adam,

 

I do agree that Palm Beach gives the impression of high dollar, but limo rides and such are an option. I also agree that they may not have a spot for you after graduation. I'm driving down in Feb for the CFI course, after researching schools for 6 months. The staff is great and they are the one for me.

 

Please don't get me wrong with the "nuff said" stuff. I come on strong sometimes.

 

I agree with the others here that if you can, visit as many as possible. You'll continue to get great advice here from these great folks and the right school for you will come along.

 

:D

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Sounds to me like we are on the same page Adam, I had gotten pretty tired of all the crap that school are handing out... I guess thats why I've pretty much decided to go with MLH, Ben Fouts the owner has been pretty upfront and honest with me as far as I can tell, you'll get that feeling from their website too, at least I did.  Also, he told me that within the last year and a half they have hired pretty much all of their grads.  And on their website it posts where their instructors who just got enough hours went to work, looks pretty nice to me.

 

I'm with you on the "where are all the grads from these schools?"  If they are non existent all the better for us though, I assume, more jobs ;)  I get the feeling that alot of the people who reply to our posts are cfi's or owners or sales people from schools.  Anyway, I hope this helps.

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Hi,

I went to a small school with two 22's,part 61.The owner who is the main CFI was excellent.He was there to fly as much as i was and the ground was great.I ve achieved my commercial and alot quicker than expected,so maybe think twice about a large school.Hi to all at Razor Blades,Clearwater,Fl.If anyone else went there could you let me know how long it took you to achieve the CFI after the commercial.

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Hi Adam

 

There are only 4 accredited helicopter schools in the country.

These schools must show a high placement rate in order to maintain the accreditation. They also have to follow the rules of ethics. All of the accredited schools have been around for more than 15 years. This is a process very few flight schools can make it through. It takes several years and a lot of hard work. This national accreditation is the very same that Technical Colleges go through. These are the schools that the industry looks to for their pilots. Some small schools are good but they do not have the resorces of the larger schools and it will take you much longer to build the time you need. Vortex is a very good school, Air Log has hired their CFII's at 700 hours total time.  Most of the CFI's are flying 125 hours per month.  Housing is a problem at Vortex now, but they are working that out. They expect to move next door to Air Log in January.  Air Log is helping with the move.  That says a lot about a school, when the largest employer of helicopter pilots helps a school move!

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Helicopter Adventures, Quantum, and Hillsbourgh are the other three. They are also all registered in the states they are located in. State registration is not as hard to get as national accreditation, but I would recommend any school that has gone that far. They will need to be Part 141 to begin with, this means the FAA will do inspections on the school at least 2 or 3 times a year.  Student records, instructor records, and maintenance records are reviewed on these inspections. The FAA may fly with any of the students to test the quality of the training at any stage of the training. If the school is VA approved they will have an audit by the VA once or twice a year, if the school is State registered they are subject to audit. If the School can issue I/20's for student VISA's they are monitored by INS and TSA. For National Accreditation the yearly report must show, student starts, completions, placement,(a placement must be within 90 days of graduation) all refunds made to students (they must show the refunds were made as per policy)and audited financial reports are submitted for review, if the school  is weak and cannot make all refunds to the students when requested, accreditation will be pulled. National accreditation is the ISO 9000 equivalent for a school. This is your assurance of quality and intregity.
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Helicopter Adventures, Quantum, and Hillsbourgh are the other three. They are also all registered in the states they are located in. State registration is not as hard to get as national accreditation, but I would recommend any school that has gone that far. They will need to be Part 141 to begin with, this means the FAA will do inspections on the school at least 2 or 3 times a year.  Student records, instructor records, and maintenance records are reviewed on these inspections. The FAA may fly with any of the students to test the quality of the training at any stage of the training. If the school is VA approved they will have an audit by the VA once or twice a year, if the school is State registered they are subject to audit. If the School can issue I/20's for student VISA's they are monitored by INS and TSA. For National Accreditation the yearly report must show, student starts, completions, placement,(a placement must be within 90 days of graduation) all refunds made to students (they must show the refunds were made as per policy)and audited financial reports are submitted for review, if the school  is weak and cannot make all refunds to the students when requested, accreditation will be pulled. National accreditation is the ISO 9000 equivalent for a school. This is your assurance of quality and intregity.
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