Helicopter pilot shortage fact or fiction? This is the number one question posed from our friends at The Helicopter Page on Facebook. I'm Kenny Keller, the creator of Helicopter Online Ground School. I told our friends at The Helicopter Page that I would do a video on what I know and what I'm seeing. I have three main facts that I want to cover that I think that most any of us could agree with:
· Fact number one: The Vietnam era pilots are retiring. When I first started back in the late 90s, my instructor said, "Hey, it's going to be a good time for you over the next 10-15 years because the Vietnam guys are going to be retiring and that's going to open up jobs." I know of a specific air medical base that has four pilots, one pilot is younger and three are all Vietnam era pilots that are getting ready to retire, they've been talking about it for the last several years. A lot of Vietnam era pilots hold the air medical jobs, which puts a shortage in that particular field.
· Fact number two: The military trained more helicopter pilots during Vietnam than any other time in military history to date. Because of this there will be a shortage of pilots versus the amount of helicopter jobs available.
· Fact number three: Largest air medical provider in the world cannot fill the jobs or have been able to fill the jobs because of helicopter pilot shortages. I called a friend of mine who is a check airman for the largest air medical provider in the world. We've been friends for about seven or eight years and I hear the same thing from him every time I talk to him so I called him to verify, he said, "Yes, at this time, they do not have enough qualified pilots to fill the EMS positions." Key word here: qualified, at that level 2,000 hours of flight time and they cannot fill those jobs.
On a side note: I want to add what I think is an important point. I got my first job, three months later the events of September 11, 2001 took place. We know what happened there. Nobody across the country was doing anything and once aircraft were able to fly again, the school that I was flying at, zilch. Everyone backed out, nobody wanted to fly, and nothing was going on. In that tough time, I got on the internet and I immediately e-mailed every single flight school that I could find within an 800-mile radius. I got a job when it was a really tough time to become a helicopter pilot. I think that if you're thinking about doing it for a career, go in with the mindset that maybe even if the job market is a little tough, you're going to have to sell yourself. You're going to have to get out there, be willing to be a road dog or what we would call a 'gypsy'. Go anywhere, do anything, to get that time, I think is a big part of whether you're going to get that job or not.
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