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On the edge of "Go For It..."


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Where do I start...(long post)

 

I have been fascinated by helicopters as long as I can remember...it is absolutely the most amazing type of flight in existence.

 

Brief History...

 

I joined the Marine Corp (Semper Fi) in 1989 with the hopes of becoming a Cobra Pilot. Very long story short...that did not happen. Instead, I trained as an anti-tank Dragon & Tow Gunner and got out in 1994. I have kept my helicopter piloting dreams on the back-burner for many years now...while running outside with my kids, as often as possible, to watch Miami Dade County Air-Resue land at a park near the house. Always wondering how awesome it must feel to command that beatiful bird or any other chopper.

 

Now...I'm on the edge of "Go for it..." with everything pretty much lined up and I'm all of excited, awestruck, nervous, scared...etc. I know I'm embarking on one of those decent sized "life-decisions" and it is amazing how unrecognizable the feeling is when you live in an everyday "normal life" for so long and get your occasional thrills on a great rollercoaster or a challenging XBox 360 game. At 37 years old...and four kids later...I'm as close to my dream as I'm ever gonna get and I want to do it right.

 

So...first...I'm looking for anyone who can relate? After reading posts on this site for a few days...I know you are out there...So any further relating is appreciated and welcome. How did you feel at "decision-time"?

 

Where I'm at today...

 

A radio ad awakened my sleeping dream and I went to a Silver State seminar and got extremely excited...however after reading so much negative on this and other sites, and doing plenty of research on my own...they are not the outfit I am proceeding with. I found a gentleman named Phil Shelnut, with Action Helicopers in Miami Florida and met him this weekend. He was very graceful, had plenty of time for me and gave me a lot of "straight-up" advice. He's an ex-Navy Seal with over 20,000 hours (heli & plane) and takes on a couple of students at a time to traine one-on-one...(Part 61 school). ---If anyone knows of him or his outfit let me know what you think--- I then went for a intro flight with him on Monday morning in his R-44 and got my hands on the sticks for the first time in my life. It was exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. I cannot believe you have to talk to the tower and fly that thing at the same time, much less, take it to the ground safely in an autorotate. You all talk about auto's as routine...I think of it as crazy. Of course he told me that stable flight takes awhile and that I did really well for my first time. I am comfortable with his knowledge, experience, time in the Miami area and general demeanor as a human being.

 

I have now secured the financing needed...will keep my full-time position as long as necessary (I'm thinking 18-24 months or longer) before CFI and take it from there for a possible career. I've read most of the negative and positive posts regarding helicopter careers and I'm not too concerned about that. In life, with the grace of God, you always find a way if you want to.

 

I'm all set in the tangible areas (instructor, finance, spousal support...etc). I was even given a beatiful David Clark head-set by a friend who maintains MDPolice Helicopters and a log book in which I logged my first 0.5 hours. Now I'm just nervous as heck to pull the trigger. I don't know exactly why...other than it's real this time...no more dream...it can actually happen now with just a decision.

 

On the wisdom front...I'm not making a career leap...I'm not really losing anything. I'm researching and reading all I can...Could it be that I've not "jumped" in so long? It is definitely going to take me outside of my comfort zone.

 

I guess I'm just looking for support and encouragement...which is hard to admit for a Marine. (It's been a long time)

 

I don't know if this post makes sense to anyone out there...however your thoughts...at this stage of my life...are welcome. I hope one day I'll look back at this post and laugh...and maybe help someone down the line in the same situation. For now...I'm it!!!

 

 

Mando

Miami, FL

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The more you fly- The better it gets-

Take some training, pay as you go.

Don't plunk down a big wad of cash up-front.

When your sure it's what you want to do, go for it.

Enjoy, have fun- That's what life is all about.

 

gft

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as mentioned above don't plunk down large amounts of money.

i'll be attending a small school (only 6 students at a time max) where i can buy 5 hour blocks at $1500 dual and wet, so i don't have to spend very large amounts to fly, as the flow of funds gets better then the more i can pay for flying. have had the helo bug since I say my first one in 1968 3 Marine UH34's landed in the park across the street from where I lived then, needless to say that 6 year old was quite excited :D

 

have fun.

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I joined the Marine Corp (Semper Fi) in 1989 with the hopes of becoming a Cobra Pilot. Very long story short...that did not happen. Instead, I trained as an anti-tank Dragon & Tow Gunner and got out in 1994. I have kept my helicopter piloting dreams on the back-burner for many years now...while running outside with my kids, as often as possible, to watch Miami Dade County Air-Resue land at a park near the house. Always wondering how awesome it must feel to command that beatiful bird or any other chopper.

You're doing all the research - That's the smart thing to do. One suggestion - Check on your VA elegibility - If you have any they will pay as much as 60% of the approved hours. They won't pay for the Private license, but will for the IFR/Commercial/CFI/CFII. Yes, there's some paperwork to do, but it can be processing while you're doing your private. You will need a 2nd class medical and be enrolled in a Part 141 school for anything reimbursable. A lot of people whine and complain about the VA, but from what I'm hearing people get as much as $18000 - $20000.

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I have been fascinated by helicopters as long as I can remember...

I'm 2 steps behind you...36, could keep doing what I'm doing at work and get by indefinitely. Throughout grad school I worked in the medical area in downtown Boston, and would sit under the rooftop helipad just to feel the downwash from the LifeFlight ship. Back then, already sitting on a chunk of debt, I ignored my impulse to learn to fly because of the cost, finished school and did the career thing. My breaking point was a tour in Kauaii last year with InterIsland--the most amazing thing to me was the end of the trip where the pilot went from cruising at 130 kia to putting the left skid next to a 2x2 strip on the helipad. I think about how well being obsessesed with flying will translate to the the day-to-day routine--and I do expect it to be routine at some point--but know that if I don't do it now I'll look at every workday scornfully wondering if I should instead by flying. Throughout my career I've been poor, stressed, and worked my ass off doing things that didn't pay well--but that didn't give me a bit of satisfaction--so this can only be a move forward as I see it.

 

For now I'm doing the book work, but after I sit for my written and the weather clears--not too much longer--I'll be taking the leap as well. Finding a school has been the biggest challenge, and the Silver State/HSH stories have made me maybe a little overly cautious. Glad you found a place you're comfortable with though.

 

Good luck,

--c

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For what it's worth, I was in a similar boat as you a little over a year ago. I got into the IT field while I was learning to fly fixed wing, thinking I could never afford to fly rotors. Fixed wing didn't hold my interest as much as the IT boom of the time did, so I stopped flying and focused on making money.

 

Flash 10 years forward, I'm now married and about to start a family, and totally fed up with my career. I COULD do it till retirement, but it was sapping the life out of me until my Mother told me about the Silver State seminar. I went to the seminar, but stopped short of going inside. That many people going to listen to someone talk about flying??? Smelled fishy..

 

So now it's one year later, I'm studying my CFI now. Full support of the wife and friends and family. Making the decision to get off the chair and actually take my life off cruise control was scary at first, I had a few sleepless nights the first few months, but now I'm even more certain it was the right choice. If you truly love aviation, and it's not just a fad, you can work through the hard times as long as you have the support of your family.

 

It's not the right choice for everyone (just ask Fry), and many people, and their families, can't make the adjustment. Aviation in general takes a special kind of person, and only you can decide if you're that kind of person.

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For what it's worth, I was in a similar boat as you a little over a year ago. I got into the IT field while I was learning to fly fixed wing, thinking SNIP SNIP SNIP...

 

FauxZ,

 

I am an IT Director for Harley Davidson. It's nice to find a fellow geek that likes to fly.

 

Paul

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I'm 30 and am single without kids but I can tell you that, after months of planning and researching and imagining and considering the possibilities (good and bad) and talking to anyone and everyone, and being afraid to tell anyone in case it didn't work out and spending HOURS deciding if the various mottos were worth following (you can't take it with you when you go, you only live once, have no regrets, etc etc), when I finally had everything set up and all I had to do was show up for my first hour of training, I had about four days of absolutely frozen solid, cold feet. I freaked out. All of those questions I had been turning over in my head and heart endlessly for MONTHS came back in one fell swoop and knocked me on my butt. It's the "oh my gosh it's real, it's really happening, it can't be really happening, can it?!?!" feeling.

 

Just so you know, you have it, you panic, you force yourself through it and then you FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! The first hours are rough. You can't do everything as well as you wanted to or thought you would, it IS as hard as people say. But keep the faith, the 10hr stigma exists for a reason. :)

 

Take the plunge. If you don't pay it all up front (a la SSH, which you should NEVER do!!) you can quit at any time and you've only spent as much as you used. I'm sure you've made worse purchases in your life that you regret far more than you will ever regret at least getting your PPL!

 

Good luck!

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I totally feel your pain, so I took the advice and just paid as I went for awhile, try it I guess.

 

but then after about ten hours, I would see my balance shooting down so fast and I started asking myself the real question. Am I sure this is what I want to do, this is a huge investment and it is moving so slow, my money is going down the drain so fast. I kept asking myself, am I just going through a stage, possibly throwing my money away. why am I spending 1,000 or so dollars a week if I am not completly sure I want to do this. should I stopp and think about this for awhile. Am I just wasting my money or is this going to be a career.

 

after getting a few hours under my belt, I still ask myself the same question, I know I love to fly, the instructor gets anoying yelling in my ear, but i am sure spending alot of money if I don't go through with this. I have decided to get me private and then make my final decision, but then I keep saying, man if I spend twelve grand getting my private and then I quit, I couldn;t really afford to just go out and rent a helicopter on the weekends to just fly it around, it is just too expensive... so I can really relate to what you are saying, cause this is a decision that will haunt you for a long time no matter what you decide. if you decide to go with it and get the training, you are going to be stuck with the payments and a low paying job for a long while. atleast the loan payments if that is the route you go. and then you ask yourself, will the grass be any greener when I get to cfi 2. will I still hate going to workl. will I really like flying for a living, and training people to fly, where after twenty hours the student pilot is flying the helicopters 99 percent of the time..........

 

but then if you wipe it off your list of things to do, It will haunt you forever and you will be asking yourself the question, should I have went for my cfi 2 and lived happily ever after....???

 

I hate being in the same boat as you, but I can relate and everyone is different, so educate yourself as much as possible, take a few lessons, maybe even get your private and then jump to pull the trigger...

 

sounds easy enough huh????? if it was that easy, I wouldn't be complaining about this hard decision I have to make as well?????

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You're doing all the research - That's the smart thing to do. One suggestion - Check on your VA elegibility - If you have any they will pay as much as 60% of the approved hours. They won't pay for the Private license, but will for the IFR/Commercial/CFI/CFII. Yes, there's some paperwork to do, but it can be processing while you're doing your private. You will need a 2nd class medical and be enrolled in a Part 141 school for anything reimbursable. A lot of people whine and complain about the VA, but from what I'm hearing people get as much as $18000 - $20000.

 

Unfortunately I think that you have missed the deadline to use your GI Bill Benefits, assuming that you have any left. GI Bill funds must be used within 10 years of your seperation from service.

 

I still say go for it. I am 30, married with two kids, pulling down six figures and am still very much looking forward to getting to fly for a living. With proper planning and an understanding spouse it is more than doable. Good luck and keep us posted.

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It's not the right choice for everyone (just ask Fry), and many people, and their families, can't make the adjustment. Aviation in general takes a special kind of person, and only you can decide if you're that kind of person.

 

Oh my god, a negative sentiment...what are you some kinda un-American commie! ;)

 

That "adjustment" you referred to...does it have to do with the spouse paying the bills for two years while all the income from doing the CFI-thing goes to loan payments and then moving the family to Louisiana and working 7/7 shifts?

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Thank you all for your candid feedback...It's nice to know I'm not alone in this. I'm definitely looking forward to flying...just wasn't expecting the "jitters". Actually, I'm not quite used to "feeling" at all (especially scared)...You know...hardcore, macho, suck it up...blah blah blah.

 

However, reality is here (like you said HeliGirl) and I am totally planning on comfronting it...and I have the fear and excitement to prove it. It's just been a long time since I feel this, that's all.

 

I'm going to get to PPL (minimum) as some of you advise. I know I'll regret it if I don't. Thank God, in my case, my financial life and income do not have to change unless I want them to (except for some new debt which will be worth the new education). I do not "need" a new profession, I'm just desiring one. (Unless of course my boss doesn't see it that way...LOL)

 

My arangement with the instructor is that which I can "try it out" and log a few hours as I go...or pay for his PPL package (1/2 up front...1/2 at certificate time) where he will get me to PPL even if it takes me longer than 40 hours (which from reading around it looks like it normally does). He really has not pressured me either way. I'll probably go for the package and decide my future course after PPL. Either way I'll keep this thread up to date with my decision.

 

Thanks for the "feeling" of a helicopter family...even though I've only been around for a couple of days!

 

Z

 

 

 

By the way...

 

I'm past VA benefits at this point...thanks for the idea though

 

I was reserve most of the time and was only active for Desert Shield / Storm for about 6 months.

 

I don't have "full time" VA benefits (I don't think)

 

Z

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Man, the "club" is growing fast.

 

I'm so sick of being in IT, but the financial stability is not something I'm ready to give up, and I don't have to, until I'm good and ready. My tax refund will easily cover the PPL, so I don't even have to take on additional debt to get started, the money can sit in ING earning interest as it's drawn down.

 

If you just look at the numbers, it can be scary. I lie awake at night thinking, "what if I suck?" I haven't flown since the early '90's except as a safety pilot for a friend working on his I ticket 7 years ago. so I have to relearn a lot of things, like airspace classifications, but it should be easy to unlearn my fixed wing habits.

 

FSX and FS2004 are great for procedures and brushing up on radio calls (shut the door, so your kids won't think you're going nuts)

 

I plan on doing a blog of my training, I'll post the URL here, when I start.

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That "adjustment" you referred to...does it have to do with the spouse paying the bills for two years while all the income from doing the CFI-thing goes to loan payments and then moving the family to Louisiana and working 7/7 shifts?

 

No, that's not it.. The adjustment is having the wife pay the bills for 5 years because you're a CFI for a year then you're gone on contract half the next 4 years.

 

You're family has to be just as willing to suck it up as you do. I've made sure I educated the wife on all the worse case scenarios. Even with that, it's still about trust and family. If your family isn't behind you 100%, it is going to get very very interesting.

 

Just send Fry a pm about why you shouldn't fly. If you still want to, even after his reply.. You're a helicopter pilot... ;) :P

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  • 3 weeks later...
...

Now...I'm on the edge of "Go for it..." with everything pretty much lined up and I'm all of excited, awestruck, nervous, scared...etc. I know I'm embarking on one of those decent sized "life-decisions" and it is amazing how unrecognizable the feeling is when you live in an everyday "normal life" for so long and get your occasional thrills on a great rollercoaster or a challenging XBox 360 game. At 37 years old...and four kids later...I'm as close to my dream as I'm ever gonna get and I want to do it right.

 

So...first...I'm looking for anyone who can relate? After reading posts on this site for a few days...I know you are out there...So any further relating is appreciated and welcome. How did you feel at "decision-time"?

...

Oh yeah, I can relate. Joined the Army out of high school with the intent of applying for WOFT, too much of a young punk to follow through...suddenly I'm 36 with a wife, 2 kids, 5 pets and a safe IT job, haunted by the "coulda, shoulda, woulda, what if?" I remember being told years a go that you can't "shoulda". So here I am, joining the National Guard to put in a WOFT packet, dropping a few grand to get some flight time on my resume, d@** the torpedos, full speed ahead. There were two scary parts: 1)coming to the decision point to fully jump out of the comfort zone and upset my safe, stable life; 2)picturing myself at 80 yrs old in my rocking chair thinking about what might have been. The second one was more scary to me than the first. Thing is, now that I'm in the middle of it, I feel more alive than I have in years. I know my chances of being selected for WOFT are incredibly small, I may be "wasting" my money on flight training etc., but whatever the outcome, it will have been worth it to me. The process of taking risks and going after what I want is almost an end unto itself. Either my life-long dream will come to pass, or I'll at least be able to put the beast to rest. Either way, I'll be better off than if I just kept skating through life.

 

z

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Thanks for the details...I truly wish you the best.

 

BTW... you brought an important question to mind. What is the age limit to the national guard WOFT? Is there one??? (I assume there is). That's a great idea.

 

I'm glad you are going for it...I did too! I'm one week into flight training (mostly FlyIt simulator and ground school for now) but I am happy that I'm doing it. It's still a little nerve-wracking...but not nearly as much as decision time a few weeks ago.

 

God speed...

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Thanks for the details...I truly wish you the best.

 

BTW... you brought an important question to mind. What is the age limit to the national guard WOFT? Is there one??? (I assume there is). That's a great idea.

 

I'm glad you are going for it...I did too! I'm one week into flight training (mostly FlyIt simulator and ground school for now) but I am happy that I'm doing it. It's still a little nerve-wracking...but not nearly as much as decision time a few weeks ago.

 

God speed...

The age limit is the same as active duty: 34. The State Aviation Officer in my state said he's heard of people as old as 38 getting age waivers in the NG. I've talked with a lot of NG pilots, and only one winced when he heard my age. Most have been extremely supportive and encouraging. If there's a NG unit in your area, it might be worth your time to talk to some of the brass. In my case, being prior service, I was able to enlist in the NG for one year. If you were to decide to do this, keep in mind that if you don't already have a valid Secret security clearance, you'll need to enlist for two--they won't even begin processing the clearance unless you have more than one year left on your contract. Because of this, I'm going to extend for a year. Not so bad--since being back in the service, I feel that this is where I should have been all along. Now that I'm in the middle of it, the whole idea of serving one's country, the commaraderie, etc., while a bit cliche, is appealing to me more than I thought it would.

 

Best of luck with your endeavor--glad to hear you've taken the plunge.

 

z

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Not so bad--since being back in the service, I feel that this is where I should have been all along. Now that I'm in the middle of it, the whole idea of serving one's country, the commaraderie, etc., while a bit cliche, is appealing to me more than I thought it would.

 

You won't get that in the civilian world. And if you stay in and retire you'll get a check every month for the rest of your life. Folks in the civilian world are going to be shelling out cash from their retirement 401(k)s for annuities from insurance company to get the same benefit.

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I have just recently ran across this website and I am so glad that I did. This thread is just great and I would like to thank everyone for posting their personal situations because I am in the same boat. Right there on the edge and having trouble taking the plunge. But everyone is right; I will beat myself up for the rest of my life if I do not go for it. This has been the extra encouragement that I needed to step up to the plate.

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Mando-

 

"Now I'm just nervous as heck to pull the trigger."

 

Chamber the round. Paint the bead. Breathe out. Relax. CLICK.

Except once you pull the trigger, the figurative sound that follows will not be the "bang" of a .22, but more like Rolling Thunder...for the rest of your life. This post just follows too many great replies that might have given you the push you were looking for. There are many good schools - just invest/spend wisely. And, of course...

 

-WATCH FOR THE WIRES-

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Chamber the round. Paint the bead. Breathe out. Relax. CLICK.

 

 

Actually...arothrhd...I did pull the trigger and I'm two weeks into ground school and simulator time. Today I flew "solo" in the simulator...I know that's not a lot to many...but it was real eye-opening for me. I'll be in the real thing within about a week or two. I have a great instructor at Pelican Flight Training in Hollywood North Perry Ariport, FL...and I'm looking forward to the real deal in the Scheizer 300.

 

I have not "jeopardized" my life...I've continued with my profession and will keep it until I can make a living in the helicopter industry. I am not concerned how far from today that is...I know what I'm looking for I will find...sooner or later. More than that...I am finally persuing my life's dream. I have been "blabbering" at the mouth for decades about how much I love helicopters, how I would fly one if I could, in awe everytime one flew by. Now I could and I'm going to...

 

I am extremely grateful to so many who responded to this post...it was truly a monumental decision for me...and the encouragement was overwhelming...I decided that I will NOT look back and wonder.

 

I believe many others will continue to be encouraged by this thread...I agree 100% with all the great advice received...and will share that advice for as long as I am able...most importantly:

 

1. Do your homework on the school you choose...(financial aspects, accidents, reputation, references, etc.)

2. Get involved in the industry...(I've been reading and posting regularly...and I think this site is awesome)

3. Receive wise counsel...(many have done this before me and they know a lot more about it than I do)

4. Hear the good and the bad...then make your decision.

5. Follow your heart...but be smart!!!

 

I will continue to post my progress on Vertical Reference...especially the milestones.

 

Once again...thank you all...for the encouragement and wisdom...and don't forget...

 

"Even Eagles Need a Push" --- David McNally (great book by the way)

 

God bless... B)

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