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Getting off the ground


Gordo
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I'm a 23 year old who's dreamed of being a pilot since he was a kid. After exploring several possible career options, I realized that doing anything except what I really want to do (fly) is going to make me miserable. I've made up my mind that I want to be a pilot, and I know it's going to take a lot of work and financial sacrifice, but I don't consider that a problem. I have gotten a lot of...."warnings", I guess you could say, from friends and family. Everyone seems to be an expert on flying helicopters and helicopter careers, but none of them are actually pilots. Which is why I'm here. I need advice from actual pilots.

 

I've gotten a lot of negative feedback from people, and not a whole lot of wind to fill my sails. These are some of the rumors I've heard from friends and family and I was hoping some of you could either validate them, or shoot them down. Either way, any info would be greatly appreciated. Here's what I've heard:

 

1)It is VERY difficult to get a job as a heli pilot. All of the available helicopter jobs are being filled by more qualified military-trained pilots coming back from the war, so a civilian pilot such as myself would not be able to find a job.

 

2) There aren't any good career opportunities for a helicopter pilot. Pay is comparable to any blue-collar job that doesn't require a degree, so I would be better off using the money I would spend on a license to just get a degree and find a job I can "tollerate".

 

3)Any good pilot job requires you to have a degree on top of your license, and I'll have a hard time finding a good job unless I get one. (I have gone to college for 2.5 years, and do plan on getting a degree, but I just want to see if that's true)

 

4) If you have a family, being a pilot will tear your family apart because it requires lots of time away from home and your family and requires you to constantly relocate your family to find work, because it's so hard to keep a job, and all the available jobs are in remote/obscure areas (ie flying pipelines in Alaska, etc...)

 

Those are the main questions I have at the moment. I really do believe I have a passion for flight and have longed for it my whole life. I want to become a pilot very badly, but I also want to ensure that my financial situation in the future is fairly secure. I like to research before I take a step and all the negative feedback I've gotten has made me a little uneasy. However, I don't believe everything I hear through the grapevine. I said if I get lots of negative feedback from actual pilots, then I'll reconsider, but until then the sky is still the limit as far as I'm concerned! Thanks for reading all this rambling and any advice you guys have would be greatly appreciated!

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like november said, the search and the faq section go a long way. the faq section is pinned at the top of the general helicopters section and if full of great information. in short, i'll answer your questions.

1. false

2. you don't fly for money. you fly for passion. and helicopter pilots can make very handsome salaries.

3. you don't need a college degree, you just need your helicopter ratings and flight time. although it is good to have as a back up plan, just incase ya know.

4. depends. if you fly ems, law enforcement, news, and many others you'll sleep in your own bed most days of the week. if you work in the gom or do in some of the more exotic jobs then you'll definately spend much less time at home. you'll be well compensated for it. i don't see if tearing a family apart, but i don't know your family so i can't make that judgement. relocation is a pretty large possibility.

 

for now keep saving that cash for flight school, read all you can here on the forums and helicopter books, and get your 2nd class medical. ( have to have that to be employable)

 

other than that, keep the questions coming. i think you'll find most everyone here is extremely knowledgable and more than willing to help you out.

 

good luck.

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I'm currently in school working on my instrument and commerical. I had lots of the same questions as you.

 

There are lots of jobs out there once you have 1000+ hours. I have seen several CFI's get jobs in the Gulf Coast once they reach around 1000 hours. My last instructor got a call back from PHI the day after he submitted his resume. So yes there are jobs out there.

 

You dont need a degree to get a job. Not a bad idea to have one however.

 

Pay will vary but you can make good money as a helo pilot. Not as much as an airline pilot but who wants to fly fixed wing anyway?

 

It will take a lot of commitment both time wise and financially. Luckly my wife supports me 100% Just realize you have to commit to your training until you done with it. You personal life may suffer a little but anything worth doing isnt easy. It's true you may have to move in the beginning to find work but thats just part of building your resume.

 

If this is something you have a passion for then go for it. Nobody in my family was real supportive either (other than my wife). Now they see me flying and it's finally real to them and they think its cool. Dont let them hold you back. They will be amazed with your accomplishments once your done.

 

Good Luck!

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Man, I can't thank you guys enough for the input and advice! It's hard to get the kind of advice you guys just gave me from anywhere else. Thank God for these forums, and thank you guys for your speedy, and detailed responses! You've already been a huge help and a major encouragement! My "sails" are officially filled again!

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Here's the deal man,

 

If you want it, go ahead and do it. You'll get what you want out of it if you're willing to work for it.

 

Be wary of "get trained quick" scams. Your rate of learning and accomplishments will be based on you and what you do... no one is going to give you your license.

 

No matter where you train, you can be as experienced and knowledgeable as any other pilot. If you're the right guy for the job, you'll get.

 

 

I started out as a civilian, and now I'm in the military as a MEDEVAC pilot. I've seen great pilots on both sides, and also guys I would never step into a helo with. Also, I have friends that still make $20,000/yr and still others that gross $100,000 as helo drivers. It's all about where they are at and what they want out of life right now. The common denominator though, is that they all started out wanting to be helo guys and now they love life every day because of what they do.

 

As for jobs, THEY'RE OUT THERE!!! If anything, they've increased in number over the last few years, and the trend looks like it will continue for several more.

 

Good luck man, welcome to the family.

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Don't let yourself get beat down! If flying is what you want, flying shall be what you get. To your questions:

 

1) Rumor has it and stats seem to substantiate it, the helicopter industry is on a growing trend after having had some hard years. What makes it even more promising qualified individuals seem to be on the somewhat scarce side for the time being (next 5 to 10 years).

 

2) Look for good surveys. One place might be the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another might be industry publications, like Rotor&Wings Salary Survey, e.g. here http://www.aviationtoday.com/Assets/cmsima...SalSurv_WEB.pdf

 

3) Having a degree is always good. There are employers out there, wanting to have their ->senior<- employees to have shown the ability to understand a scientific text (which is basically all your degree will ever show [sorry to blow some academic egocentricism there] but also means, it doesn't matter what kind of degree you have)

 

4) Well, yes. Especially when still in the run to build your thousands+ hours, some jobs will need you to relocate. Most likely, unless by some strike of almost extraterrestial fate of luck, you will not stick with the same company from training for PPL to 10,000+ hours. But after having filled up some logbooks, there are these kinds of jobs which allow you to at least sleep in the same bed every night (as james28 pointed out). A definite plus for your wife: many jobs come with a rotation schedule like 7 days on/ 7 days off or 14/14 - time to watch the kids and cook dinner for her, for a change; not to mention the great 401k/medical benefits.

 

But there is still a downside: To be able to pay for the training you will almost need the same kind of money as for another college degree. 200 hours is even today the (almost always) bare minimum to rake in any job. So 200 hours * [insert hourly rate of your school] + a coupl'a $$ for additional charges = $$$. So don't show up unprepared <_< .

 

Cheers,

Lance

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