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Los Angeles Helicopters?


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Thanks to many of you, and a few others on a different site or two, I happened to be narrowly spared the terror of dealing with SSH. I know there are a couple on here who still maintain that it wasn't a bad choice for them...but still. Too many red flags as far as I'm concerned.

 

So in my search for a different school, I found Los Angeles Helicopters out of Long Beach International (which from what it looks like they used to be US Helicopters). I stopped by thier facilities and from what I saw of thier prices and equipment they look like a great school. However...I'm not an experienced flight student so I'm trying to go the safe route and get some advice from some people with good experience. So my question is this: Has anyone on this forum had any experience with LA Helicopters and if so, what were your impressions?

 

They don't use simulators, instead just putting you in the heli and going from there. They gave me a complete price breakdown, and it looks very reasonable to me. They have a fleet of 5 R22 betas and 2 R44s...with one of the R22s being an instrument ship. Looking at all the costs it's going to be about 50,000 or so to get my CFI, and then a lil extra to get my instrument and CFII (which I do want). Are there any specific things I should look for in a flight school, like questions I should ask but may not have thought to ask? (And yes...I know about the bad idea of paying up front for services "to be rendered")

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

~Josh

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So in my search for a different school, I found Los Angeles Helicopters out of Long Beach International (which from what it looks like they used to be US Helicopters).

 

They don't use simulators, instead just putting you in the heli and going from there. They gave me a complete price breakdown, and it looks very reasonable to me. They have a fleet of 5 R22 betas and 2 R44s...with one of the R22s being an instrument ship. Looking at all the costs it's going to be about 50,000 or so to get my CFI, and then a lil extra to get my instrument and CFII (which I do want).

 

I know nothing about LAH but comparing their website to that of Silver State Helicopters would be an exercise worth doing for anyone considering flight training. While some important information on LAH's policies is in the small print, at least it is there. SSH's marketing...printed and verbal...leaves out some fairly significant facts.

 

On their website LAH lays out their advance payment policies ($2k in advance gets you priority status and that status continues as long as you have $500 on account) and their refund policies (full refund less $125 at any time). That's upfront and the student knows their total risk is five hundred bucks.

 

They are a part 141 school...SSH is not.

 

LAH's advertised total cost...not the minimum but the expected cost...of going from pedestrian to CFII is $66,700. That's for 215 hours of dual, 35 hours solo and 225 hours of ground. So what is Silver State, right next door, charging $69,900 for...200 total hours and a whole lot of expensive and useless add-ons (turbine transition, dragging a bucket on a rope, "unlimited" ground and sim, yada, yada, yada).

 

And what's with the price comparison at SSH's website between "Our Program" and the competition? According to SSH the competition charges $85,400. Here's a competitor right next door to SSH charging less for more flight time.

 

LAH also says upfront that the cost structure they are laying out is predicated on 15 training hours a week and that if the student flys less their costs will probably go up. None of the nonsense that SSH puts out about how their program caters to "working adults"...as if the average student can fly occasionally or only on weekends and actually attain a CFI in only 200 hours. Of course, neither company guarantees that they can make the aircraft and/or instructor available for 15 hours of training a week but at least LAH says that that is the standand.

 

LAH isn't the only flight school that puts out balanced marketing information (keeping in mind that the purpose is still to make sales) ...all the reputable schools do...but it certainly is a striking comparison to the information (or lack of) that SSH puts out.

 

An observation about LAH's program, there doesn't seem to be much solo time. That's probably a cost consideration...student pilots flying solo are more likely to break something. Something to consider, skip the CFII training and spend that money on some additional solo time.

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Thanks so much for the good advice...I'll certainly take that into consideration. One thing I did talk to the instructor about when I was visiting the facilities was about my instrument rating, and he mentioned to me that I could actually save some money by combining some of my CPL flight training with those required for an instrument rating. That was really something for me to think about that he was thinking of ways to save me money instead of getting more money from me. With that in mind, I could even take the money that I'd save doing that and put it toward solo hours. =)

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An observation about LAH's program, there doesn't seem to be much solo time. That's probably a cost consideration...student pilots flying solo are more likely to break something. Something to consider, skip the CFII training and spend that money on some additional solo time.

 

Skip the CFII training? Are you suggesting he not get his CFII?

 

Many flight schools, including mine, will simply not consider someone who doesn't have their CFII. These days, you place yourself at a disadvantage without it.

 

My 2 cents...

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Skip the CFII training? Are you suggesting he not get his CFII?

 

Many flight schools, including mine, will simply not consider someone who doesn't have their CFII. These days, you place yourself at a disadvantage without it.

 

My 2 cents...

 

Forgive my cynicism but...you are in business of selling flight training so one would expect you to encourage more training.

 

The program offered by LAH is for 250 total flight hours for $66.7k. That includes 20 hours & ground at $6k for the II. So you're saying...as probably are LAH and most flight schools..., "if you want me to hire you (which I will not guarantee to do) you must spend another $6k with me". Hey, if you can get the students to buy into it, go for it. It's a marketing ploy that has worked for SSH.

 

But really, that II is just an add-on to increase revenue for the school...like turbine transitions, mountain training, long-line training, etc, etc. Certainly more training is better but for a newbie CFI the cost-benefit of the II just isn't there. Of course, if they are not willing to just take the risk and try to find a job without the II then you've effectively cornered them and what choice do they have but to pay for the training and hope they get a job offer from you.

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Forgive my cynicism but...you are in business of selling flight training so one would expect you to encourage more training.

 

Forgiven... :)

 

However, I think yours is misplaced... I don't sell turbine transitions, mountain training, or any of that other stuff, since none of it helps you get a job.

 

The CFII does help you get a job, plenty of schools are just not interested in you otherwise. Not being able to teach the instrument rating means that you are only half of an instructor, and won't fit well in a busy school that has career track students.

 

It doesn't cost $6K to get the CFII either, we add it on for $2.5K, and that includes the cost of the checkride.

 

Certainly more training is better but for a newbie CFI the cost-benefit of the II just isn't there.

 

When you own a flight school, you can make that arguement, since you'll be able to hire all the non CFIIs you want. :)

 

Fly Safe!

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Forgive my cynicism but...you are in business of selling flight training so one would expect you to encourage more training.

 

The program offered by LAH is for 250 total flight hours for $66.7k. That includes 20 hours & ground at $6k for the II. So you're saying...as probably are LAH and most flight schools..., "if you want me to hire you (which I will not guarantee to do) you must spend another $6k with me". Hey, if you can get the students to buy into it, go for it. It's a marketing ploy that has worked for SSH.

 

But really, that II is just an add-on to increase revenue for the school...like turbine transitions, mountain training, long-line training, etc, etc. Certainly more training is better but for a newbie CFI the cost-benefit of the II just isn't there. Of course, if they are not willing to just take the risk and try to find a job without the II then you've effectively cornered them and what choice do they have but to pay for the training and hope they get a job offer from you.

 

Wow, never heard this logic before. Jenh has it right. The only certificate a brand new CFI can guide a student through, start to finish, is the Private. The Commercial requires 10hrs IFR per Part 61, and that must be accomplished with a CFII. A CFI can instruct others in a CFI course without the double I, but the hour and time requirements are going to preclude a new CFI from doing that. As an employer with potentially 6 courses (PPL, CPL, IR, CFI, CFII, and ATP) I wouldn't even consider hiring someone that could only conduct 18% of the product that I would offer.

 

In reality, the CFII doesn't have to cost that much at all. I built my CFII book at the same time as my CFI and flew right around 4 hours total, including the checkride. I think it cost me about 1300 bucks altogether. Spend the extra cash and improve not only your marketability, but also your teaching and IFR skills.

 

As for the "cynicism" comment by Fry, man, get over yourself.

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