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Alright I need some help FAST! I'm a senior in high school and i am graduating in May. Right now i'm trying to decide wether to go helicopters or fixed wing. I've found both a helo school (Vortex Helicopters) and a fixed wing school(Delta Connection) but now is the hard part which one do I choose? I absolutely love to fly and have no preference with one over the other. But what are the advantages of being a helo pilot vs. a fixed wing airline piolt. Which one pays more? And some day I would love to have a family which one would be better (time away from wife/kids) and i've heard lots of talk about strikes and airlines layoff thousands of pilots, is the helicopter industry more stable... so to make a long story short ...Which one would be best I know you guys can't choose for but please please I need some direction

 

 

Any information is welcome and will be greatly appreciated

Charlie..

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People fly airplanes, pilots fly helicopters.

 

At least initially, and depending on the work you intend to get into with helicopters, you'll be spending alot of time away from home chasing work but after you have enough exp. to work wherever you'd like an ems or similar job will keep you in one place with lots of time off for kids. Also, you can expect less pay as a heli pilot. I'm not a socialist but maybe we need to unionize. Oh, and incase you havent figured it out; airliners are boring.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Airplanes want to fly

 

Helicopters have to be flown

 

If you want to fly, fly a helicopter

 

 

Not all airplanes want to fly...I remember one type in particular in which a new, but experienced pilot came on board, took one flight, and landed. He didn't walk away, he ran; the airplane and the operation were beyond him and he was smart enough to know it. Some airplanes must be flown all the time and can be downright demanding.

 

One isn't harder or even necessarily more demanding than another, but...different.

 

As far as which direction one should take for initial training...you probably won't be starting in a helicopter and later switching to fixed wing. It's possible, some do...but it's expense, time and you're pretty much starting over. When you transfer to fixed wing, nobody considers your rotor wing time when looking at your experience level. A ten thousand hour rotor pilot with 100 hours of fixed wing is a 100 hour pilot in an airplane.

 

Transferring the other way can be equally difficult, if not more so. Put in ten years of dirt wages to survive in fixed wing, and you probably won't be able to afford to go to helicopters. Additionally, your fixed wing time won't mean much when you transfer to helicopters, and you'll be starting over all over again...not to mention "bad" habits that can really hurt you in a helicopter that are ingrained from flying fixed wing.

 

If you're looking at going to comair...you're probably barking up the wrong tree. If you're going fixed wing, go to a part 61 school in your area, forget all the promises that comair and other big name schools will throw at you, and get your basic certification. Instruct, find a freight job and work your way up like everybody else.

 

I recall a few years ago an incident in which a comair crew lost control of their brasillia. They later admitted on public television that they couldn't read their instruments ("our instruments gave no meaningful information") because they were looking at a brown field on an attitude indicator and didn't know how to use the sky pointer in an upset situation. That doesn't mean much to you right now, but it's about people who were put in an airliner with the responsibility of lives in their hands, and couldn't find their backsides with both hands...and it showed up in an emergency in which they could easily have killed people. Walk before you run. Get your experience, and move on from there.

 

That applies, no matter which route you decide to go.

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I will second what avbug says about avoiding Comair, going to a part 61 school, and getting an air freight job. Also I will add to it... If you get a freight job, get one with regular scheduled runs if you want to have a social life (i.e. - like a subcontractor for UPS, etc.). If you want maximum hours, you could fly up to 1400 per year if you find the right unscheduled 135 air freight job, but you will have no social life.... Also, get out of air freight as soon as you have the minimums for the next job and can get hired. Once in air freight too long, it is difficult to get out of. I do part time air freight, and know of several pilots that will probably never have another flying job. Airlines and corporate flight recuiters seem to have a view that pilots that have been in full time air freight too long are hotdogs and anti-social... So, if they see you wanted to get out of it all along, they like that... Of course you don't tell the air freight employer that, but they usually know that you will leave, if you are young.

My first air freight job, I flew almost 600 hours in the first six months with all kinds of interesting IFR, icing, lots of night time, and all multi-engined turbine flying so it is a good place to get your feet wet. You can start in multi engine aircraft with as little as just under 500 hours total time, if the aircraft requires a crew of two, and in other aircraft crewed by one with just under 1000 hours.

I don't agree that helicopter time is *not* a help if you go fixed wing later. I got into helicopters early and almost everywhere I've gone in "the fixed-wing world", the employer looked at my helicopter time indifferently or was impressed by it. ...But I am maybe a special case, since I have a fairly even spread of time in both types... It was always included in my total time on the resume. All fixed wing outfits teased me about it. In any case, those opinions are subjective depending who you go to, and other criteria...

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I'll answer that by quoting my all time favorite bumper sticler...

 

Real Pilots Fly Helicopters

 

Take a 30 minute ride in both a helicopter and airplane trainer and see which flight you're still thinking about come bed time... that'll be the one for you!

HA! I've got that sticker. The funny thing is my girlfriend is a fixed wing comm pilot with many ratings and she totally agrees with it. she'll be converting real soon.

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Although I do neither for a living, and most of my time is in fixed wing, I must say that if I had it to do all over again as a young lad, I'd have followed my dream of flying rotor for a living.

 

As noted, overall you'll take longer probably to earn the larger coin, but like anything in life, it's your attitude, conviction, and perserverance that will decide your success or failure more than anything else.

 

After several hundred hours in fixed wing, after my first hour intro ride in an R22 I was forever hooked (and my childhood dreams had been reaffirmed)! It's much more expensive for initial training, but you've gotta get the hours somewhere!

 

If you're gonna be in a cockpit for a job, I couldn't imagine it not being a helo. You may be different. B)

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