helicopter check ride Oct 24, 2018
Chapter 3: Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started flying helicopters?
This is usually the first question many people ask me. The best thing to do is just schedule a Helicopter Introductory Flight! Go out and get your first Helicopter Lesson. You can sit and think about it all day. You can read books about Flying Helicopters, watch videos about it, and whatever else you can think of, but until you go out and try it, you will not know what it is really all about! The actual Helicopter Flying experience speaks for itself once you go up for your first Helicopter Lesson. Schedule your Helicopter Introductory Flight.
If you have high blood pressure, would you still be able to become a helicopter pilot?
Now of course that question would be one you would have to take to your medical examiner. Which brings up a great point. Many people ask questions about their health and getting their medical certificate. You can have certain problems and still become a helicopter pilot, and we urge people when they first start training to get your student pilot medical certificate right off the bat.
If you start flying and then find out later that you have some kind of medical problem, that drags out your training, costs you more money, and in the end maybe find you couldn’t become a pilot. This is a great question, but I am not going to attempt to answer it because high blood pressure has too many variables, and is for a medical examiner to decide. I would think under a doctor’s care, and if it were not too out of control, it would be okay.
You do not have to get it before you start training, and many people wait, and they are ready to solo and they still do not have a medical certificate. You cannot do the solo flight and continue with the training unless you have your medical certificate. The main point is to get your medical certificate as soon as possible. Certain health issues can be allowed if monitored by you aviation medical examiner. You will also be ready for your solo, when the time comes!
Can I wear glasses?
This is another common question. Yes, you can wear glasses. I have been wearing glasses for years. Again, it is best to get your medical certificate as soon as possible to address any issues with vision while piloting an aircraft.
Do you need to go to college or university to be a pilot?
No, you do not. At this time, you only have to be a high school graduate and have a diploma. At this point, you do not have to have college or university. There are some companies now requiring pilots to have a college degree? By not having a college degree, you may be limited for specific jobs that you want or the types of jobs you can get. I did not go to college, I have been lucky enough to have many different Helicopter Pilot Jobs. It has not restricted me from any jobs, but it could in the future. If you are questioning whether to get a college degree, I would say get it! More and more companies are going to start asking you to have that college degree.
How long will it take to complete the training?
That is a great question. There are so many things that are involved in how long your training is going to take. I have heard of people that have gone from off the street to Certified Flight Instructor or CFI in 8-9 months. To do that, you are going to have to have all the money available. You are going to have to commit yourself to studying and working at it full time to get through it in 8 or 9 months. I think it would be a huge stress to try to get through it in that amount of time. Now we will go to the other end of the spectrum and use me for example. I started in 1997 and I did not get my CFI until 2001.
It was because I was operating a business and trying to scrounge up the money for more training. Like most of us, and many helicopter pilots, I struggled along the way. I had different things that held me up. I failed my first private pilot Check-Ride because I did not have the ground knowledge I needed. Which to say is why I am here and why I am offering the helicopter online ground school that I currently have. It is due to that lack of knowledge I had in the beginning.
Everyone wants to fly but nobody wants to do the ground part. The ground part, in my opinion, is 75% of learning to fly helicopters and 25% is the actual flying. It can take 3-4 years to get to CFI from off the street or it could even take longer. It all depends on, again, how much money you have available, how well you study on your own, and there are just so many different factors on how long it is going to take to get your helicopter rating.
I tell people when they are looking at doing it as a career not to worry about the whole picture. Take it one-step and a time, get your medical, and get your private pilot license. When you get there, then the next step is commercial pilot and then you can get started on that. It can be overwhelming if you look at the total cost and time. My opinion, focus on that private rating first and go from there.
How often should I fly?
Let’s use the Helicopter Private Pilot Rating for an example. It depends mainly on how many times per week you are going to fly. The best seems to be about 3 times per week. If you figure you will fly one time per week that will take a long time. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of Helicopter Flight Time. The average person takes more like 60 or 70 hours to complete the Helicopter License. Flying once per week will take over a year. You will not make good progress flying just once per week! You can also fly too much. If you try to fly every day, you will overwhelm yourself and not make good progress there either.
Your Helicopter Flying will get ahead of the Helicopter Ground School. It depends on how much time and effort you put into it! How good your study habits are, how good you are at studying on your own, and how much time you have available. If you have family and or a job, an active social life, any of these things can take time away from your Helicopter Training. It can take longer than people expect. There are also weather issues. Helicopter maintenance, both scheduled and unscheduled.
Be prepared for those times, and still take time to go in for Helicopter Ground School. There are so many factors in involved in how long will it take. Do you have all the funds available? That is what holds most people back. It took me 4 years to go from off the street to Helicopter Certified Flight Instructor! I had to keep stopping to find more money; money seems to be the issue for most all of us.
That is just the way it is. If I do my commercial on a different helicopter is that going to be a problem with getting a job or getting the rating? I was asked: "I have a private rating on a Schweizer 300 CBI, now I am planning to do my commercial training. If I do my commercial on a different helicopter is that going to be a problem with getting a job or getting the rating?" This is a great question. There are two big sides to this, depending on where you are going to try to get your first Helicopter Job.
You may just be willing to go anywhere, maybe you want to work at a specific Helicopter Flight School in a specific aircraft. The big thing is when you go to get your first job they are going to want to know how much helicopter time you have and how much helicopter time in a specific aircraft you have. If you are trying to get a job in a Robinson 22 and you only have 20 hours in the R-22 that is not going to happen. There are certain regulations on the amount of time you have to have in the R-22 to teach, or if you are going to fly in the Schweizer, or the Enstrom.
Depending on where you go, things are going to be different with different flight schools. For example, for four years I was operating an Enstrom with a flight school. The first insurance company I had, for the first three years, I battled with them constantly because I would train a person private through commercial then to CFI and I would want to put him on the insurance.
They would tell me to have this person get a total of 350 hours and then 250 in the same make and model. I would be frustrated and say, “What are you talking about? I trained the guy. He is here with my operation, and my aircraft!” It was a very, very frustrating situation because who knows better about my aircraft and my operation than someone that I trained for all of their ratings.
I battled with that the whole time. I was actually a check pilot for that insurance company, and I still am today, but I did not have any say or pull in getting someone insured. Then I changed to my current insurance last year and the company I changed to, not only did they save me a little bit of money, they were very reputable. They said, "You hire who you want, we will insure who you want. You are the instructor. Why should an insurance underwriter tell you who can safely operate your aircraft?" I was amazed and I thought, “Wow, I wish I had been using you guys three years ago, because that’s the way it should be!” There will be questions about how much time you have had in that specific aircraft, and what is the insurance going to require. It can be a great benefit to get training and instruction in different styles of aircraft, and from different instructors. Everybody has his or her own way of teaching.
Two people may teach the same maneuver, but have different ways of teaching that maneuver. They might both be good maneuvers if performed safely. There is a lot of benefit to flying those different aircraft and flying with varying instructors and seeing the different ways people teach. It is an open-ended question. There are many things to think about.
Do you have a specific place that you are going to want to fly in a specific aircraft? If that is the case, you probably want to stick with that one aircraft. You have to look at what is going to be right for you and getting that first job is sometimes very, very tough. The problem is having the amount of time in the particular aircraft that you are going to fly. If you do not have enough time in that specific make and model of aircraft, you will not get the job. As far as making the rating harder, I do not think so. All helicopters have a collective, a cyclic, pedals, and they all fly virtually the same.
There are different characteristics, buttons and switches are in different places, some different limitations, and so on. Although there are differences, they are still helicopters. The bottom line I want to sum it up with is, in my training I flew a Robinson, Schweizer, and an Enstrom from off the street up to CFI. It did take me about 4 years to get there. I am glad I had that experience in the three different aircraft!
What is the cost for Commercial Helicopter Pilot? How hard are you willing to Study? What is the frequency of your Helicopter Flying? There are so many factors involved in how much your Helicopter Training will cost! The cost is pretty much going to range from 50,000 to 95,000 dollars for all of this training. That includes Commercial, CFI, Instrument Instructor, the whole works. It would be an average of 75,000 dollars probably to get to Commercial Pilot, CFI. Again, it can vary so much, on what type of Helicopter you are going to fly, how long it takes, how hard you study and how frequently you fly.
Are there ways to save money on the Flight Training Cost?
The answer is yes, absolutely! One of our Past Student, Jeff Kasza, saved a ton of money on his Commercial Helicopter Training by going to California and going along in a News Helicopter to build time. That was the priceless Helicopter Turbine Time! Helicopter Ferry Flights is another way to save money on your Helicopter Training! You will have to do the legwork to find these things, but they are out there! Bottom line if you want to be a Helicopter Pilot, you can get there!
Is it a good time to become a helicopter pilot?
Yes, it is absolutely a good time to become a Helicopter Pilot! There is no time like the present! Flying Helicopters is truly one of the most rewarding experiences you could ever have! There is a growing need for Helicopter Pilots in the Helicopter Industry!
People say 'Well, are there many jobs out there for Helicopter Pilots?' The answer is, absolutely! If you are looking at becoming a helicopter pilot as a career, it is the perfect time! When I started in 97, my instructor then said, "Hey, over the next ten to fifteen years, you're going to see the Vietnam Era guys retiring." The Military trained a ton of pilots for Vietnam, and the Military has downsized ever since.
As helicopters gain more popularity, they are used more and more around the world. Everyday somebody buys a helicopter; maybe a news station, police department, or a new EMS ship. Helicopters are used more and more all the time, whether it is for business or pleasure, and I have watched this happen over the last ten to fifteen years. The jobs are opening up, the pay is getting better, and the opportunities are definitely there and increasing!
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