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I am sorry if this topic has come up before and I didn't see it, but I did search the forum and I am having a hard time picking up valuable information from bits of post. I have heard conflicting opinions about whats a better option. Some said that heli employers will take a robbie pilot over x-military anyday, but have also heard the opposite so I am quite confused. Ultimately my objective is to be able to get a job in the civilan world. However right now in my life I am at a point where I can either work shitty jobs for at least another year to save a few thousand, and try to not fiance more than $40,000 for civilian flight school, and could be stuck in a pretty shitty financial situation while working as a CFI, or I can sign on for 4 years of my life and not pay a dime, but risk my life itself. The thing I don't understand is military air time comparable to civilian training and CFI time, is it more valauble, or worthless? I have also heard things that you probably won't even get much time in the air as a military pilot anyway. Whatever feedback you guys and give would be much apreciated. Also my other question is do all branches of the military require you to be an officer to pilot, or are there any enlisted positions?

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I can shed a little light, but it's not direct experience. The guy who taught me to fly helicopters is ex-National Guard. Many, if not most of the pilots are Warrant Officers (he was a CWO4). He left with 1000 hours in the OH-6A and 5000 in Hueys. He did the FAA checkrides and came out with ATP-RH and CFII-RH ratings.

 

Army hours are like Air Force hours -- the clock runs from liftoff to touchdown. I know the airlines credit AF pilots with an extra 10-15% because of that. I imagine, but don't know for sure, that organizations hiring helicopter pilots would do the same.

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Guest rookie101

ah, the ever daunting question of civilian training vs. military training, many times have I debated this and I've come up with a list of good vs. bad so it might be helpful:

 

Military- the goods

 

1. ALL TURBINE TIME- you will be flying turbine helicopters your entire tour of duty and while in flight school (TH-67's I do beleive) and you will be flying a lot! I've heard of helicopter pilot's looking to get into flying C-130's because they get so tired of flying helicopters

 

2. REALLY GOOD TRAINING- let's face it, in the civilian world a CFI (or CFII) see's you as just another way to build time. That's not a bad thing, but can turn into one as they may teach you something's but in the end you aint learnin' as much as you should be. In the military those IP's are orded to teach you and if they don't, there X-ed so they teach you. Also, I've heard military training is pretty much like going to a factory course you will do everything and you will do everything a lot. I was speaking to a pilot (via e-mail)and this is what he told me, word for word i'll even post the message if someone wants me too: "WAY back when, I shot probably 500+ touch-down auto's in my training. Nothing compared to civilian training where you're shown ONE."

 

3. TEAMWORK- you've shown that you can work well with others on the ground and in the air and that will make life much easier on everyone and this makes you look really good. (This is especially true for the CH-47 chinook since you will be slinging 105mm Howitzer's around to God know's where and than you turn around and switch the howitzer for logs in the civilian world).

 

4. DEPENDABLE- not to slap any of the really experienced and fine pilots, but when a military pilot has retired from the military and is transistioning into the civilian world they have been 'beaten over the head' with orders and discipline and they will (for the most part, I imagine there exceptions) come out disciplined and dependable, an employer knows that when asked they (the x-military pilot) will get the job done. Again this is probably true for all pilot's but an employer may not realize this until they've worked with a pilot.

 

5. SERVING YOUR COUNTRY- this of course is a huge benefit as you are not only seen as a hero, you are rewarded as one. Not only is your training FREE, but you might even get paid to train. You also get the GI Bill and that is another huge plus.

 

Military- the bads

 

1. GAMBLING- When you join a branch of the military you become government property, therefore wherever they need someone they will take you and put you there. Don't beleive me, I've got a story for anyone who would like to take me up on the credibility of this. You are also taking a HUGE risk with your life, it's somewhat hard to fly helicopters if your an amputy or dead :blink:.

 

2. THE DESK- somewhere down the line (depending on years of service) you will end up jockeying a desk. Why? I don't know, but it happens. My rant about this is "Hey, I signed up to fly helicopters, not jockey some F*N desk!" but your government property so too bad.

 

3. NEEDS OF THE ARMY PREVAIL- get use to it. If you wanna fly the AH-64 and you get stuck in an OH-6, too bad. Now, I don't know if you can switch over to an AH-64 unit if your trained in the OH-6, someone else can tell you that.

 

Now, Civilian-

 

Civilian- the goods

 

1. CONTACTS- when your flying in civilian training you have the oppurtunity to start making contacts before you get out of training. Example, your IP is going to get out sooner than you and is going to get started in turbine helicopters sooner than you, I recommend you keep in touch with him/her. Also, any students who are further along than you will move on sooner than you, I suggest you start becoming friends. NOW, this is also true for the military as many pilot's who were buddies in the military are still buddies and they keep in touch=a good contact.

 

2. NOT GAMBLING- now, flying helicopters no matter how you look at, but it's a lot less risky when someone isn't shooting at you!! You won't be the property of the U.S. government, meaning that you won't have to worry about losing your chances of flying.

 

3. NO PT- now, this is definatly different for everyone, but it is something I imagine everyone has an issue with. If you don't wanna run 4 miles, do 30 push ups, 20 sit ups and 10 pull ups than don't bother joining the military because PT is something that is common place in the military.

 

Civilian- the bad

 

1. POOR MAN- if you go the civilian route, you gotta pay for it and it ain't cheap (everyone who has done their howework should know that!). There are loans and you can pay out of your pocket, but either way you will still be paying a lot of money for training.

 

2. MEDIOCRITY (couldn't think of a better word)- Now, this is one of my biggest fears. If I am investing $50,000+ buckoroos into a career and lifestyle which means I want a damn good IP, but sometimes this doesn't happen. This is the exact opposite of #2 in the goods of the military. Now, I beleive that helicopter pilot's are some of the nicest guys and they understand the difficulties of trying to make your way up the ladder and I bet that everyone of them try's to make easier for thier students, but there those one's that see you (the student) as just something that gets them more hours and that's it.

 

3. THE LIFE OF A CFI- this lifestyle has been charecterized as just living above or right at the poverty line. Depending on your pay (and what country you instruct in) this varies, but here in the U.S. you work for beans. It isn't a lifestyle you wouldn't want to have the rest of your life, but it is something you will have to deal with if you go the civilian route.

 

 

Now, all that I have said above is based on what I've READ, HEARD and LISTENED to. I am always open for correction and I don't care if you say something like "wow, you couldn't be more wrong" because first hand experience is always more valuable than by a third-hand account. If you've got beef with me about this post I'd rather you PM me than post because this is supposed to be a helpful thread, not something that turns into a bashing party.

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ah, the ever daunting question of civilian training vs. military training, many times have I debated this and I've come up with a list of good vs. bad so it might be helpful:

<snip>

 

3. THE LIFE OF A CFI- this lifestyle has been charecterized as just living above or right at the poverty line.

<snip>

 

Somebody lied about that!!! :lol: lol

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Guest rookie101
Somebody lied about that!!! :lol: lol

 

Well, not trying to be rude, but please explain. All I've ever heard is that IP's make 30k or less than in a year, that sounds like living at the poverty line to me. (sorry if I read this wrong and it was supposed to be a joke, I've been known to ruin jokes).

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Rookie that thread was really good. I'm actually in the AF and half way to my 20. Right now I work as a fighter mechanic. I'm looking into Helos as my next career. Remember one thing Slick. Recruters Lie!!!!! That's their job. Rarely will you get a guarantee. If you do get a guaranteed job in writing if the military can't deliver then they offer something else or you can go back home. Then do you know what happens if you flunk out of flight school? The military decides what your job will be for the remainder of your enlistment. I won't even mention forced cross training. As for flight time I am in a unit with a specialized mission with a few handfuls of aircraft and probably 4-5 pilots per aircraft. I see the same pilots fly maybe once per week. While I agree that military training doesn't come with a price tag. It doesn't come free. One more thing the AF has tuition assistance witch will cover college however it doesn't cover flight/ground school. And the GI bill will only cover a portion of a 141 school. The school will have to call and register with the VA for the GI bill to get approval. If your reason to serve is for "free training" think of more reasons.

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Well, not trying to be rude, but please explain. All I've ever heard is that IP's make 30k or less than in a year, that sounds like living at the poverty line to me. (sorry if I read this wrong and it was supposed to be a joke, I've been known to ruin jokes).

Well, I was definitely joking, but being serious too. My first job instructing, I spent $2K to move across the country, leaving all I came to know for 20 years. It was to a Part 61 school with one instructor, whom of which, I was taking his position as he moved on to bigger, better things. The school was looking pretty good, stating they were almost complete in obtaining their 141 certificate. The instructor I was taking over for, flew 65-85 hours a month, getting paid $18/hr for ground & flight instruction. So far it sounded OK. Escpecially since there was a 141 certificate coming... When I arrived at the school, I came to find out that they hired two other instructors prior to my arrival that lived in the local area. Those two got all the current students, because they arrived first, and I was left to fend on my own (I am not complaining about having to fend on my own, it is to be expected. ...Just relating the experience). Seems the school forgot to tell me that. Oh, did I mention that they only had one helicopter? Then I had to fly ten hours at my expense to get on the insurance @ about $2500... My first three weeks I made nothing. I made about $11K that year, not including the deductions for moving expenses and insurance flight time in that final figure. Weekly paychecks of two figures were not too uncommon for a long time. And neither were those in the $100-$200 range... It did eventually get better...

The school I took instruction before that wanted to hire me. The owner flew ~300 hrs that year, and did the "vast" majority of the flying at that school. He wanted to pay $25/hour, only pay for flights and ground training and have me "manage" the school while he opened another school in Las Vegas. (yep, he only was willing to pay for flight and ground training, the rest was "free"). Schools that pay ~$30K per year are far between. Don't depend on it. There are usually more instructors than positions to fill them and everything is based on supply and demand. School owners take advantage of that when determining your pay and how to run the school. It takes many students to support one instructor at a decent pay. It is simple logic to figure it out.

Someone in a thread here this year said they were getting paid $12/hr. If they flew 600 hrs/yr, 600 hrs/yr ground - that is $14,400/yr. Not much to live on... If I remember correctly, they lived in CA.

I am not saying $30K positions don't exist, they do. But don't presume a best case scenario in this business (aviation in general).

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I know my biggest fear about the military route would def be signing on and then being sent to infantry, just because they can.

 

 

Military is definitely an option, especially for rotary wing. I'm currently in flight school right now and it's great. I'm an officer so the degree question was mandatory for me. I know the warrants only require HS diploma, but I would say 95 percent of them have at least an associates degree. "High school to flight school" still occurs, but is rare. Most warrants are prior NCO's with 4-8 years in the Army. I know right now is the best time to put your warrant packets in because of the need for pilots. Take that for what it is. If you ask a recruiter for a warrant packet, they can't screw with you because once accepted, that's it.

 

As far as what you fly...that is all up to OML (order of merit list) which is basically a list from #1 student down to the last student in grades (both academics and flight line). If you do well, you pick first, etc.... but remember, at least you are in flight school at that point and darn lucky to be where you are at that point. Primary is in the TH-67 which is a Bell 206B/ U.

 

I tested for my commercial instrument rating after I completed instruments so I'm recognized by the FAA. For us in the Army, it's only a test that takes a few hours and you get a very $$$ license for about 100 bucks.

 

As far as comparability to civilian training....likely better in the military as you learn more than just piloting. You learn tactics and techniques which in turn make you a better and safer pilot. It's also important to remember that you will be in the military so be prepared for that. It's a way of life....not just flying.

 

Good luck and hope that information helps.

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"I was speaking to a pilot (via e-mail)and this is what he told me, word for word i'll even post the message if someone wants me too: "WAY back when, I shot probably 500+ touch-down auto's in my training. Nothing compared to civilian training where you're shown ONE."

 

On my record, I completed 102 touchdown auto's in a TH-67 in about 6 weeks. The training is very intensive, but you do learn. Auto's are only the beginning....get into 180 auto's, low level auto's and the pucker factor really increases!! If you get into attack, you really get into some fun maneuvers.

 

A guy in my class paid lots of $$ in the civilian side and he said the training didn't even compare.

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I've done both civilian training and military training, so let me weigh in on this one for you.

 

First, the Army's training is excellent, but is full of gaps. You'll get a better than decent paycheck, but don't plan on flying much anymore unless you're deployed to a war zone as all military spending is focused on OIF and OEF. The Army is also the only service that allows you to fly without a bachelor's by being a Warrant Officer. The Navy is running a test program right now to see if they can field a similar type of pilot. Also, it's not a 4-year commitment, unless you're in the Guard (and that's only in a few states) it's 6 years (at least) from the day you complete training and pin on your wings. You will have a desk job and you will spend most of your time there. Even as a Warrant Officer, you will have some type of additional duty that may at times interfere with your flying duties; but shouldn't. You will have incredible benefits like leave, full health care, and such however... which is very important in this day and age. Also, you will have your entire experience your turbine machines, but you're understanding of true power management, for the most part, is limited at best

 

The civilian side is also excellent, but varies from school to school and requires you to pay exorbitant fees equivalent to a college degree. You will learn the skills necessary to be a safe, knowledgeable pilot by learning the FAA standards and you will use these skills for the rest of your life. You won't have much to your name for the first few years, but you will fly probably 10x what even the high time military guys fly. You will have no benefits for awhile, but you'll get to work in a variety of locations and jobs and gain multitudes of experience. However, where the military will always seek to help, aid, and mentor their pilots in the event of a mishap; in the civilian world you are largely on your own. However, you will have the flexibility to leave a job or situation at your will how you want to. You will also have to work in the piston world for awhile. But this, in my opinion, is an experience that is invaluable when dealing with weight and balance and power management issues. And if you're motivated and stay positive, you won't be in pistons for very long; maybe only a couple years. Then you'll be hopping in to Jet Rangers, Astars, or whatever else you can get your hands on.

 

In reality, each employer has their own hiring quirks. The problem with the average military pilot is that he is usually virtually clueless about airspace, regulations, weighing and balancing, and general aviation operations. They also tend to lack a firmness in aerodynamics but are very strong in aircraft systems. Many also have a hard time adjusting to flying an aircraft that doesn't have unlimited maintenance and parts always available thanks to the taxpayers. I've seen several cases where military pilots have abused aircraft, landed, and then were shocked when the owner hands them a bill for several thousand dollars because they decided to show off and trim trees with their rotor blades. This is where an employer make prefer to just train a civilian CFI and have them fly the way they want their aircraft to be flown.

 

The problem with civilian pilots is that you always seem to get this young CFI who's flown 1500 hours in a R22 and thinks he's God's gift to the helo industry. He has no clue about turbines, Part 135 operations, or what it's like to work a contract job with pilots bigger and better than him. These guys take training and must be matured in these jobs. They have more respect for the aircraft, but are either sheepish or too willing to push a limit. Some employers prefer just prefer to mentor an ex-military guy rather than put the effort into a buck junior piston pilot who's sharp on regs, but dull on experience.

 

I started out in the civilian world and then I hopped into the military; where I am currently at. While I miss all the flying on the civilian side and all the great experiences and diversity of jobs, I do love flying a Blackhawk and working with a team of pilots that are as close as family. It's also nice to be able to eat everyday and not worry about the size of the next paycheck:) My advice to you, is that whatever you do, never think you know it all and constantly seek to learn from your superior pilots. This is makes guys from both sides of the fence succeed and others fail. I don't regret doing either experience one bit. Oh yeah, by the way, the chances of you getting tossed into something else beside aviation after getting into flight school is nearly impossible; especially infantry. You would have to elect to get out or fail a flight physical for this to happen. In either case, you have a very limited chance of becoming a ground pounder afterward. Once you have a commission in the military, you can not be reverted back to enlisted either.

 

Well, I hope I've helped.

 

Alex

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Hi,

 

Do you have to work for four years in the us military? That doesnt sound bad at all. In the Netherlands you will have to sign a contract of 13 years!!! (3 years training included) That is why I dont want to go in military. Before you can start the training, you will need to do various tests with a chance of succession of 0.5%! I heard that it is much easier in the US to begin your helotraining, is that right?

 

Wanna-Be

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Guest rookie101
Hi,

 

Do you have to work for four years in the us military?

 

Warrent Officer's are required to stay for 6 years. I think the regular grunt stays in for 4, but I am not 100% sure. A few of the seniors from my class signed on for the navy and army (non-helicopter units) and will be doing 5 years.

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Ascott has it about right. Most of my peers came up through the military during Vietnam, and flew UH1s and OH58s, and necessarily learned to fly with less than optimal power. Thus, we have been flying around the limits for our entire aviation lives. Pilots coming out of the military since the introduction of the Blackhawk have little experience flying without excess power, and can get into trouble easily. We also see guys with 1000 hours of R22 time, who think "I'm a CFI. I know, and can do, everything". They forget the PIC they're flying with has been doing the job longer than they've been alive, and being a CFI means absolutely nothing outside a primary flight school.

 

Most employers don't give a rap about how you got the time, just that you have the time. It's primarily an insurance requirement, but it also means you survived for a few years, and may survive a little longer, and maybe not destroy the machines. Right now anyone with 1000 hours can get a job in the GOM, immediately, regardless of the path they took to get the time. Completing the training is another question, though, and we're losing about half the new hires in each class, on average. You have to be ready to fly across water all day, and be able to fly the aircraft, not just herd it around. Landing in 30 knot winds on a 24 foot pinnacle in the middle of the ocean, with obstacles on 3 sides, isn't the same thing as landing in the general vicinity of a painted spot on a runway.

 

If you've got the time, and can actually fly, you can get a job today, no matter how you got it.

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