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Airline guy need Helo advice

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I am currently flying for a regional. I have been doing the fixed wing career for 7 years now. Things at my airline are not looking up. Before embarking on the fixed side of things, I got my private helicopter (1995) in anticipation of working toward a helo career (my true love). Ran outta $, and parents would NOT help with helo, but would help with fixed wing(father is fixed wing, ex-Navy)--so here I am now--a fixed wing guy thinking of, at the very least, doing helo on the side (as a backup in case of furlough), and at the most, making the jump to the helo side. I've been thinking about doing this for a long time(since '92), more seriously in the past 3-4 years.


Flying a jet or large turboprop is cool. Watching a 777, or 747 take off is mildly entertaining. But to me (and probably most of you here) there's nothing like the sound(and sight) of a BK117 passing overhead, at low altitude and high speed; or the sound of an MD 900 in hover...oh man; or coming in to land in a confined area, or on a mountain top, 360 autos, 180 autos, flying with the doors off. Oh, I think I just answered my own question that I was about to ask--my question is: what do you guys/girls that have been in the helo industry think I should do? Or, any other fixed wing guys/girls do the switch to helo--what do you think?


Thanks in advance (sorry for the long post)


P.S. I know the helo side is very competitive and not great pay.

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Do what you like, but understand that you will likely take a substantial pay cut flying helicopters. In general, helicopter pilots are paid much less than fixed-wing pilots. It's wrong, it's immoral, but that's the way it is. Mostly because helicopter pilots will fly for very little money, for some reason. As long as they do that, there is no incentive for operators to pay more. That may be changing, though, and something at least resembling equivalency may eventually happen. Not this year, though. Much depends on the outcome of the PHI strike.

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I agree with you 100%. there is flying and there are systems managers.

as for the pay dif. you should check with some companies in the industry you want to work.

gls has been misinformed. or is dreaming of the old payscale


if helos are your love the you have to do it!!

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yeah, I understand that helo guys top out alot less than most of the fixed guys. But I myself, have yet to break $41k. It's partly my fault, partly the industry's current state. I'm just over the fixed lifestyle. I have no desire to fly 10-12 hrs straight and lay over in EU or Japan, or S.A.-dozin' for dollars, making the big bucks. (why not doze for dollars makin' the relative little bucks as an EMS helo guy-I did EMS fixed and liked it.)


BTW, I wish the absolute best to the PHI guys striking and taking one for the "team". To those SCABS who are crossing the line, well........ I just dont see how anyone can scab. If EVERY ONE person were to strike, or stand up for an issue, etc., this would be a very different (better) world. Take care of your brothers. UNITY!!



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Quick, show me the new scale. Both those for the airlines and for helicopter drivers.


Ive done both. Pay doesn't pick up for an airline pilot until he hits the majors or more than 13-15 years at a regional. Thats all but gone anyway.


Helos are more fun.


5th year capt at my regional ~ 1000 hours a year = $62,976 (ASA=$61,008)

5th year AirLog APR07 =$60,024/VFR . $65,096/IFR (how many hours?)


1st year F/O at my regional ~1000 hours per year = $23,616 (ASA =$18,696)

1st year SIC at ERA= $39,260

1st year SIC at PHI= $50,000



Mileage Varies but do your own research. The cry of helos being underpaid is by folks who are only on one side of the fence. Yes, I realize this is a recent change too.

Helo pay







If you look at the majors then you will find six figures but there are a lot of overqualified folks for those seats and not many majors hiring. Even if you get on at some Majors, you probably won't ever see the left seat. Look at JSFrim and there a lot of helo postings.


6 & Half Dozen but Airline salaries are NOT extravegant by any means.


Just curious, do you HAVE to retire at 60 as an EMS or GOMer


All that said, staying in a hotel while away from home beats ShipShoalsXXX, rat infested trailers, or nasty company apartments in BFE LA.

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No, you don't have to retire at 60. That's strictly for Part 121 airlines. Pete Quesada put that stupid reg in place, as a retired USAF general, who thought everyone should be able to retire at 50. Like many FAA (former CAB) heads, he was something of an idiot about some things.


You will eat up a good chunk of change commuting from civilization to the roach motels of south Louisiana, and eating on the huge $9.00/day meal allowance PHI provides. No mileage is paid for commuting, you get there the best way you can, and DO NOT be late. Forget about flying - there is no airport near Morgan City, and while Houma has one, it is not served by any airline. Port Fourchon? One road in, and do not think about driving near the speed limit. The Golden Meadow cops make a living off helicopter pilots.


I know the regionals don't pay much, but that's not the only fixed-wing job there is. Corporate and charter pilots do much better. Take a look at Professional Pilot's salary survey, which covers the broad industry.


Helicopter salaries overall will rise if the current strike is successful. If not, they will be depressed for years. Of that you can be sure.

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