Many people dream of flying a helicopter someday. If you are willing to work to make that dream a reality, you might earn the prestige of becoming a helicopter pilot. To become a professional helicopter pilot, you will need to pass through a helicopter training school. There is much you need to learn to become a helicopter pilot, as flying a helicopter is not an easy task. You will have to complete intense training in a helicopter training school before earning your pilot certificate. You must meet specific requirements before, during, and even after your flight training.
Characteristics of Helicopter Training Schools
Admission criteria differ depending on the organization sponsoring the flight training. For example, the military offers helicopter training, but only for enlisted personnel. Some private schools require medical clearance from the FAA for students seeking admission before acceptance into their programs. There are standard features that characterize the majority of helicopter training schools. They include a conducive environment for learning, a time frame for meeting flight-hour requirements to earn required FAA certifications, availability of skilled/experienced instructors and equipment, and student services.
Things to Consider While Choosing the Helicopter Training School That Suits You
There are many decisions to take into consideration while choosing a training school. Researching the available options can help you find the best-suited school for you as you begin your studies toward a pilot certificate. Obtaining a pilot certificate is just the first step toward becoming a professional helicopter pilot, so be sure to look for schools that have rotorcraft training emphasis early on in their program curriculum. There are many flight schools to choose from, making it a tough decision for someone just starting their aviation career. However, if you ask the right questions, you can find the school that fits your needs and can help you achieve your career goals.
Duration of Training
A quick online search for “how fast can I get a helicopter license” will show you accelerated courses as short as four weeks (for a pilot certificate). However, most reputable schools will tell you that, while it may be possible to pass the FAA tests with the minimum number of flight hours, it is not necessarily recommended. There are training programs available part-time; however, attending a full-time program is encouraged if you want to jump-start your career as soon as possible, as it includes a steady amount of commitment and focuses that enables you to earn your credentials more quickly.
The time it takes to earn licenses and ratings depends on several factors, the top two being how much time you can devote to your training and what certificates you want to earn. A Commercial Pilot Helicopter License will allow you to work and earn money as a helicopter pilot. You must first hold a current Private Pilot License to get that certificate. You can also earn additional ratings once you have the commercial pilot license that will allow you to fly in more difficult conditions or teach others how to fly. Some schools like California Aeronautical University have a full-time, year-round program, offering a college degree and four certificates and ratings in about two years.
The School’s Experience With Training Pilots
The school you choose should have experience in training pilots over the years. Research the number of successful graduates they have produced working in different organizations in the aviation industry. Look for a school staffed with experienced professionals who train students to become quality pilots. Especially in these trying times, you will also want a well-equipped school with resources, equipment, and simulators. The school’s financial stability should be a concern you alleviate early on in your search, leaving you more time to focus on more important issues. A flight school is a business, and some smaller schools have been forced to close due to lack of viability.
The Types of Helicopters Used for Training
Generally, helicopter training schools use one or more of the following helicopter types for training:
- Robinson R22/ R44
- Schweizer 300 series
- Bell 47 (or B206/B407)
- Enstrom 280
If you want to study in advance, you can find some manuals for training helicopters available online. What kind of helicopters will you practice as a student in your school of choice? Keep in mind that certain helicopters have weight limits which could affect which helicopters are available for your training.
Safety of the School’s Operations
A key element in the front line of all aviation industries is safety, and the flight school you want to train with must also consider the safety of their operations first. You can check which safety affiliations your prospective flight school has to know the safety systems and measures that have been ensured and approved by appropriate authorities. It would be best to rest assured that you are safe while training. It also shows that you are well aware of your role in ensuring safety in a safety management system.
If you want to apply for the training in a school, you should also be aware of the options available to help students lessen the financial burden. See if there are loan programs available. You can also find out if the flight training school has been authorized by the Department of Veterans Affairs to accept veteran educational benefits to help cover the cost of their training. There are also some interesting scholarship opportunities for helicopter flight school costs.
The Industry’s Reputation of the School
You can quickly discover this from helicopter training schools’ affiliations with other industries. Flight schools with good reputations usually have numerous partnerships and contacts throughout the aviation industry, ranging from past graduates to friends and colleagues. Networking and potential employment opportunities are some of the many benefits of these relationships. Others include contacting those partnership organizations to get information on upcoming hiring events, inside information on salary ranges and working conditions, and even knowing who the current HR manager is can be a huge advantage.
Accreditation of the School
If your prospective training school is accredited, it means they have been examined and audited by an authorized organization to ensure that the training offered by the school meets specific standards. One essential thing to note before you apply is to ensure the accrediting body has an association with the Education Department in the US.
If you have a passion for flying and want to turn that passion into a thrilling and prestigious career as a helicopter pilot, finding the right helicopter training school is key to helping you achieve your career goals. Once you complete the required flight hours, there are various opportunities available. For instance, trained helicopter pilots can work for tour/charter operations or with government agencies such as law enforcement, air ambulance services, or national parks.
You are about to make a significant investment of your money, time, and future. For this reason, helicopter training schools should be more than ready to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have to make proper decisions regarding the training. So, take your time and consider everything you need to know before applying for any training school.
Mr. Matthew A. Johnston has over 23 years of experience serving various roles in education and is currently serving as the President of California Aeronautical University. He maintains memberships and is a supporting participant with several aviation promoting and advocacy associations including University Aviation Association (UAA), Regional Airline Association (RAA), AOPA, NBAA, and EAA with the Young Eagles program. He is proud of his collaboration with airlines, aviation businesses and individual aviation professionals who are working with him to develop California Aeronautical University as a leader in educating aviation professionals.