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Here I am again still doing a bit more research on piloting as a career and once again I find myself wanting to pick the brains of those working within the industry rather than listening to the hype spouted by the schools. I'll start by giving you all a brief bio on myself then I'll lay out my questions.

 

BIO: I'm 30 years old, 5 ft 9 1/2 inches tall weighing in at 195 lbs...I could lose more but don't think I could conceivably drop below 180 due to just being built large. I'm a single father of a baby-boy about to turn 1 years old on April 13th and I have full custody of my son where his mom has him every other weekend. His mother would love to have him more often but I'd have to evaluate whether she's become responsable enough to really care for him...but let's suffice it to say that joint custody is an option should I want to pursue that. I'm currently a police officer for a city with a population of about 130k and 250k on gameday weekends (college town) and have worked all shifts and usually the projects. I'm good at what I do but I need a change in my life. I've been a police officer for over 5 years now and am tired of seeing just the horrible side of people. I own my home with about $40k in equity, have about $10k in the bank, own my car, my motorcycle, and could liquidate probably another $10k in assets if need be. So I find myself on the cusp of a life altering decision -- either return to college and finish up a degree or go to flight school to get my P/C/CFI/CFII licensing.

 

QUESTION 1: First off I'm aware of the instructional time that one must do to accumulate upon earning their CFI/CFII and hit the magic 1000 hours. My question is what are the average wages that you guys see for flight instructors on a yearly basis? I currently only make $30k/yr with another $6k/yr coming in from overtime and extra duty jobs to make ends meet. Would I be taking a huge salary hit by working a year as a flight instructor?

 

QUESTION 2: Once achieving the magic 1000 hours what are my options? I've heard several things that range from tours in the Grand Canyon and Alaska to working the Gulf of Mexico. What are the salaries like for those options? Do you get a good bit of flight hours with these jobs? I understand the scheduling with the GoM jobs being 7/7 or 14/14 but are there any other schedules being offered by some companies? What do these jobs entail?

 

QUESTION 3: Let's say I do the tour industry and GoM for some time and now my son is old enough to start school. At this point I can no longer be transient. What options are there for me at this point? How possible would it be for me to get settled into somewhere as an EMS pilot or ENG pilot? Are these jobs readily available or are they highly highly competitive with 1000s applying for 1 or 2 positions?

 

QUESTION 4: Would you guys recommend that I follow a dream and pursue helicopter piloting based off of my bio or would you recommend that I just finish college and settle into something more stable and likely not as fulfilling but better in the fact that I wouldn't be so transient?

 

QUESTION 5: I almost forgot...what are any medical issues that would prevent one from getting their medical clearence to fly?

 

Ok so let me know what you guys think and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

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If you go with a certain particular specific school :rolleyes: that I will not dare mention their name :unsure: you will have a $50,000 to $100,000 annual salary job with them in less than a year.

What city are you in, out of curiosity?

 

Hahahaha...sorry I'll avoid the hype and company of SSH. I'm in Athens, GA. Before you guys mention the school in GA that can get me trained for less than $40k I've already looked at them heavily and they use Schweizer 300's...as much as I'd love to train for that little of a cost I cannot see spending $40k to come out and be largely unemployable as a flight instructor out of the box since most schools are using the R-22. The school I'm currently looking at is Mona Loia (or however you spell it) in HI. Heard nothing but good things and the combination of high altitude training, heavy airspace training, and the ability to fly nearly every day of the year are perks that are hard to pass up.

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either return to college and finish up a degree or go to flight school to get my P/C/CFI/CFII licensing.

 

If those are really the options you are considering your choice is a no-brainer...go to college and finish your degree. You already know the uncertainties in a piloting career...your questions show that. If you want to be an airborne truckdriver/gypsy go for it. If you want to have a career and a home to raise your son in go to college.

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My best advice would be to try and take a trial flight (preferably with the school you're thinking of, but if not anywhere).

 

If you like it, before you make any commitment, consider your medical. You need to check about the Class II and even the Class I medical standards if you are considering this as a career.

 

Do your homework when choosing your school, and read the small print. Don't put money down first, unless you're sure its recoverable.

 

Get the support from your family*. It can be very stressfull for all.

 

As for settling down later, you may feel constrained a little in your career by your family. You may have to settle for jobs which take you a longer path to your goal or they may not jump out in front of you...but you can do it. There are jobs all over the US to suit everyone. I wouldn't worry about that too much.

 

Be prepared to spend a little over what is quoted. That way, you will not feel stung if it does go over, and if it doesn't, well, it's money in the bag.

 

Try to borrow as little as possible, or be prepared to have that burden over you for a number of years.

 

Lastly, if you are vigilant with your study, your money and you are committed to succeeding you will do. 99% of the 70% of people that drop out, do so because they were not committed enough, prepared enough, or they had too high / unrealistic expectations of the timeframes, dedication or money involved.

 

Good luck,

 

Joker

 

P.S. When speaking to your family, I don't know if you can speak 'baby' or not. A gurgle can loosly be translated as 'Yes - Go for it'. In fact so can crying or filling the diaper!

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Hahahaha...sorry I'll avoid the hype and company of SSH. I'm in Athens, GA. Before you guys mention the school in GA that can get me trained for less than $40k I've already looked at them heavily and they use Schweizer 300's.

 

personally, I love the 300 more so than the 22.

 

But I agree with everyone else, take an intro flight. Also, does your department have an aviation unit?

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Hey VoodooDaddy,

 

I don't know what school you refer'd in GA. I was thinking about Georgia Aviation Tech College. They show 175 hrs and total flight cost is $27,905.00 in a 300CB, PPL, CPL, and CFI. Thats cheap. I am paying $34k for 150 hrs in a R22. A lot of R22 schools are using Pathfinder Ins. and more than likely req 300 hrs TT to CFI. I might be wrong but I think Pathfinder only req's 50 TT in a Robbie? Since GATC doesn't have an Inst rating in the Helicopter program you could get your Inst in a Robinson and get some Robbie CFI check out time to build towards the 50 hrs in type and you would be checked out as a CFI in both models?

 

 

 

GATC

 

 

 

Just a thought?

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Hey VoodooDaddy,

 

I don't know what school you refer'd in GA. I was thinking about Georgia Aviation Tech College. They show 175 hrs and total flight cost is $27,905.00 in a 300CB, PPL, CPL, and CFI. Thats cheap. I am paying $34k for 150 hrs in a R22. A lot of R22 schools are using Pathfinder Ins. and more than likely req 300 hrs TT to CFI. I might be wrong but I think Pathfinder only req's 50 TT in a Robbie? Since GATC doesn't have an Inst rating in the Helicopter program you could get your Inst in a Robinson and get some Robbie CFI check out time to build towards the 50 hrs in type and you would be checked out as a CFI in both models?

 

 

 

GATC

 

 

 

Just a thought?

 

 

GATC was what I was looking at and you propose a very good idea actually. Although I'm also looking at the factor that many schools hire their own students but I'm not sure how that would factor in if I got a CFII from the company I intend on trying to apply with as a CFI.

 

As far as the take a ride and what not I appreciate you all saying that but come on that's a first things first sort of thing which you have to assume has already been done :) I love flying and I know it'd be a happy career and to be honest I love the gypsy lifestyle of moving from place to place...but it's not the most responsable lifestyle for my son so I'm limited to say the least...at least once he gets into school.

 

So I'm been curious, though, what are some factors that would prevent someone from getting their medical clearence for commercial flying?

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Just do it. And you will not be un-employable when being trained on a Schweizer, the contrary there's a lot of demand for Schweizer instructors. And the myth schools tell you about hiring their own instructors, is what I say a myth.

 

With you background and age, you can at least make what you make now as a CFI.

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Hey Voodoo-

gotta be brief- First get a medical (1st class), which shouldn't be a problem at all. But you never know if something could make this whole enterprise a bust (and you can lose your medical/career plan with a household accident or general mishap anyday/anytime).

Then check different schools starting locally and move out from there to get an idea of what's out there. When you're there buy all the rotorcraft books they have and read them. 90% of your written/general knowledge will be from reading at home.

I doubt your pay will be half of what you're making now unlees you're flying and teaching full 8 hour days at a big school. Also you probably have fantastic benifits for your kid and wife that add up to 10K a year. You should add that figure in to your decision making process.

Just keep'n it real!

BTW, the people you will meet, work with and learn from in this industry may be the best you can find anywhere. You won't regret leaving the street scum far below (they look like ants)!

Don't worry about what you train in either. If you take it the whole way transitions won't be a problem. *But if Robinsons are in your perceptable future there are special hour requirements to be hireable in them when you finish.*

whoa- more stuff than I thought- gotta go!

Huey

 

 

PS: Oh yeah, I knew a girl in college from Athens, I called her Georgia all the time, she didn't like it!

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Question, Why get a 1stclass medical first? Seems like you would get the student license/3rd class medical first. If you get a 1st class you will have to go back again and pay for the student. Doesn't that mean you will be paying twice for a medical? Just curious.

 

Rotor

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Hey Rotorweed

the 1st class can be used for private/student pilots for the three years just like the 3rd. If you're an airline pilot and the 1st is required it lasts 6 months. The 2nd class lasts for 1 year if you're a commecial pilot, but 3 if you're a private.

I advise getting the first class in the beginning because it's the most intensive test and will probably nail any areas that might bite you in the next 10 years.

Just my opinion...

Huey

:mellow:

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You can ask the doctor for a third class with student pilot certificate on the back. I don't think they have first class with student pilot certificate on the back though. But if you ask the doctor he might have a solution. (Maybe give you both)

 

Always do a medical one, at least then you know if you can get you ATP.

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I advise getting the first class in the beginning because it's the most intensive test and will probably nail any areas that might bite you in the next 10 years.

Just my opinion...

Huey

:mellow:

I would disagree... why put more $$ in the AME's pocket? You won't need the first class until exercising the privilages of your ATP... a looong way down the road, if ever. I do agree with the principle tho, get the second class instead of the (only required) third. The second class is adequate, IMHO.

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Voodoo Daddy asked-

> So I find myself on the cusp of a life altering decision -- either return to college and finish up a degree or go to flight school to get my P/C/CFI/CFII licensing.<

 

Finish your degree. It's the best thing from a personal development aspect, but it won't be much help as a helo pilot after the interview. You ask the question like it's an either/or, and it may not be. I have a lot of extra time, but I'm an established, working, professional pilot. I have, on occasion, picked up some courses in my off-duty time. I know lots of guys who do education as their off-duty thing.

 

>QUESTION 2: Once achieving the magic 1000 hours what are my options? I've heard several things that range from tours in the Grand Canyon and Alaska to working the Gulf of Mexico. What are the salaries like for those options? Do you get a good bit of flight hours with these jobs? I understand the scheduling with the GoM jobs being 7/7 or 14/14 but are there any other schedules being offered by some companies? What do these jobs entail?<

 

Never done tours or worked Alaska, but I can broad over-oview the GoM-

Offshore support of oil and gas production, direct and indirect. Producition requires equipment and people on-site, which means structures, residential and otherwise, pipelines for transport, communications, resupply, and everything else. Drilling 'rigs' are a small but high-dollar part of the industry.

A lot of transport is by boat, mostly bulk stuff, and things that aren't time-sensitive. People prefer to move by helo, saves payroll and increases productivity.

You could work for any part of that, or all. It ranges from working for major brands to single-platform companies. You could haul 'company' or contract people. Or parts, and they believe in 'metal' in the Gom. I've hauled circuit boards and a thousand pounds of some-kinda-part, both desperately needed yesterday.

If you work for one of the big three, you'll be pay some dues as a pool (relief) pilot while you get the minimum Gulf time to be placed on a contract. "Pool pilots" may work several bases in a day, or several weeks at the same base. You might bust your hump or sleep all day. I knew guys who loved the variety of the pool. Not me.

Once you meet a contract's minimums, you'll be assigned a job. As a junior pilot, you'll probably get the sort of job that guys cycle through and bid out of, ASAP. Whatever, you can count on 14 hour days, in un-air-conditioned, basic but well-maintained equipment. The average annual flight time when I left PHI was 400 hours a year. Some jobs max-flight-timed out every day, some early in the day. Some did a couple hours a day.

At one time, you could expect to work a year on an off-shore residential assignment. Not everybody's cup of tea, but I liked being my own boss. You can't really do much after a 14 hour day, even on the beach, altho some do. You might find the GoM to your liking, I did, and stayed 13 years.

 

>QUESTION 3: Let's say I do the tour industry and GoM for some time and now my son is old enough to start school. At this point I can no longer be transient. What options are there for me at this point? How possible would it be for me to get settled into somewhere as an EMS pilot or ENG pilot? Are these jobs readily available or are they highly highly competitive with 1000s applying for 1 or 2 positions?,

 

EMS is booming right now, especially in your area (I'm just up the road, Jefferson). What the future holds for the industry is anybody's guess. There's not a lot of flying, and it can be a bore- Prepare, prepare, prepare, and fly very occasionally. Pick the area you want to live, and check for programs there. Then visit, and make yourself known, and find out how the selection process for that base works. Programs generally have big say in who flys for them, and the company tries to accomodate their wishes. Preferrance is given to internal transfers (usually) but it doesn't always work- the job's very personallity driven. A locall hire- you, with luck- could end up the best solution, even in a company as big as my employer, Air Methods.

 

>QUESTION 4: Would you guys recommend that I follow a dream and pursue helicopter piloting based off of my bio or would you recommend that I just finish college and settle into something more stable and likely not as fulfilling but better in the fact that I wouldn't be so transient?<

 

"If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Ditto. The commercial ticket is a huge hurdle, but the career killer seems to be the next thousandd hours, and the thousand after that can be tough. One of the best pilots I know PAID for her first thousand hours, and she wasn't "to the manor born." Don't underestimate the challenge of keeping your belly full and finding the hours.

 

>QUESTION 5: I almost forgot...what are any medical issues that would prevent one from getting their medical clearence to fly?<

 

Some wierd stuff will disqualify you- I think migraines, for instance. Mostly a warm, largely funtional body and minimal mental defects, qualifies you. If you have an established physician, ask for a best guess. Your physician might be an AME, or a pilot. Both are usually very forthcoming in non-official opinions. A few bucks for flight physical answers the question definitively.

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Hmnm...

 

Seems to be a little confusion over the medical certificates and the regulations.

 

I am not at home so won't attempt to go into detail (without the means to research my answer). Maybe someone else will fill in in the meantime.

 

Normally, a new pilot gets the SPC and Medical Certificate at the same time (and on the same piece of card). However, you can get those two documents separately.

 

It is possible therefore to have the SPC and a First, Second or Third Class medical. You might have to explain that to the AME though, so he knows what you are looking for.

 

With respect to Voodoo Daddy's question, I wouldn't necessarily go and get the First straight off, as it is not that much different to the others, but usually costs more. However, for piece of mind, then maybe its worth it.

 

In fact, even the 2nd is only necessary when you start instructing. Given that this takes most people about a year to complete their course, you'll need to get another medical around then anyway.

 

So you might as well get the minimum required (Third), to be a student. In a year's time you can get a second.

 

Well, not very well explained...sorry...I'll elaborate later.

 

joker

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