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I am thinking of persuing a Helicopter Pilot career... Help!

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I am thinking of persuing a Helicopter Pilot career... Help!

Old 29th Sep 2010, 15:21
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South East
Age: 33
Posts: 6
I am thinking of persuing a Helicopter Pilot career... Help!

Hello everyone,

I am currently serving in the Army with no flying experience. I have now decided it is time to leave, life is too short!

I really would like to fly helicopters for a living and I have enough to pay for the PPL (H) straight up but then it would be all bank loans for the CPL (H).

What I want to know is:
a) Job oppurtunities for a young inexperienced pilot? I take it they are few and far between... What sort of salary, if any, could I hope for?
b) is becoming an instructor a good route, and how much would this cost to become a qualified instructor and how much could I hope to earn?
c)Is the job enjoyable? When I see the helicopters flying above I think to my self, "they have the best job in the world!"

I realise that it is a long, expensive hard slog. However, I am young and determined will this be enough??

I really appreciate any tips or advice you guys have, I appreciate that you are all probably very busy!
Antony49 is offline  
Old 29th Sep 2010, 19:43
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 1,164
I think your probably better posting this question in the 'Rotorheads' part of the forum.

For what its worth though.....I have a good friend who completed his CPL(H)/MEIR nearly 3 years ago, and has been unable to find a job. I think his MEIR cost him around 35k alone....ouch!!!!!!!! He's also similar to yourself, both age wise and previous job wise(he's ex Force's).

But then again....the airline industry seems to be picking up on the recruitment front so perhaps the Rotary world may be similar.

You do realise of course that the helichopper courses will cost you SERIOUS cash....far more so than fixed wing!!!
MIKECR is offline  
Old 29th Sep 2010, 20:13
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Birmingham UK
Age: 35
Posts: 18
I'm only a aeroplane wannabe myself but I also know of a guy who recently finished a lot of Chopper training. However despite applying all over the place and a venture in Ghana that fell through he is not having much luck 18 months on. Not to say things won't improve over the next few years though, so keep researching and don't lose faith.

FamousGrouse21 is offline  
Old 30th Sep 2010, 11:52
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South East
Age: 33
Posts: 6
Thanks a lot for the information guys, massivley appreciate it. The Bristow Accademy looks excellent. Do companies in the UK not look favourably at those who have got thier qualifications overseas? Does anyone know what the work situation for qualified pilots is like if you were to go to the US?
Sadly the Army Air Corps would keep me in the army for another 8 years and I am not willing to do that!
Thanks again!
Antony49 is offline  
Old 30th Sep 2010, 17:55
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: UK
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Dont take this the wrong way but I think you need to do some serious research before taking the plunge. With regards to the US job situation.....you need to qualify for a working Visa. Again, research this too as its not straight forward.
MIKECR is offline  
Old 1st Oct 2010, 11:13
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As an ex military bod myself i would say stay and transfer to the Air Corp, i have no relevant info to add on the rotor side of things, but seriously think about the extra pension for 8 years extra service and also the experience of military flying over civvie applicants when you finally leave, and best of all its free training whilst your getting paid a half decent salary, Like i said i have no rotor experience but certainly i do sometimes look back and think about the offer of transfering to the airforce and completing flight training for free, (which i foolishly did not pursue) SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU COULD BE THROWING AWAY FOR A LIFE IN CIVVIE STREET WITH NO FIRM JOB PROSPECTS FOR ANY CLASS OF PILOT..
Southwestnewbie is offline  
Old 1st Oct 2010, 12:54
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Planet Moo Moo
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I worked for many a year in the Helicopter industry. It is a difficult one to break into if you don't have military training or a couple of thousand hours in a twin turbine!

I left to go to the airlines as the terms and conditions nose dived due to a pleathora of young pilots writing to companies begging them to let them fly their shiny gas turbine helicopters for free, then give them a paid contract.

You can imagine the mess that left the industry in!

That is, now, history and, from friends still vibrating around the skies, the conditions are improving once again. The reason for this little story? There are lots of helicopter pilots with lots of experience waiting for the HEMS/SAR/PAS jobs already. There are many who are willing to take on the FI role to build hours and hopefully get offered a turbine position when they have the experience.

Helicopters are expensive to fly, maintain and operate thus the overheads for an operator are greater and the insurance a nightmare leading to the equivalent wage being lower than that offered by an airline.

Think very, very carefully before commiting to spending an ungodly amount of money getting a silver book that 'could' be useless unless you have the right (expensive) TR on it. I would look at the Squirrel for example.

Good luck in whatever you decide.
Wirbelsturm is online now  
Old 1st Oct 2010, 14:31
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 816
In your position, if you want to fly helicopters, the only sensible course of action is to try for a transfer to the AAC and do the Army Pilots Course. You'll get a fair and realistic assessment of aptitude, you'll be paid throughout, you won't have to cough up for your training and there'll be a job waiting for you at the end of it. To leave your job and seek your fortune as a self-sponsored ab initio civvy helicopter pilot in this economy is madness.

TT (former RAF RW pilot)
Torque Tonight is offline  
Old 1st Oct 2010, 19:04
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: uk
Posts: 50
"ask owners of turbine machines if you can do the start up, get the pilot to show you, then let them fly off"

Dont forget to tell the panel about that experience at your at Bristows interview!
Pick me Flybe! is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2010, 16:29
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hogwarts
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Looking at the financial commitment of training privately I think another look at the AAC is certainly worthwhile. I am a flying instructor in the AAC and if you want more info or to come for a visit then PM me and we can get you across. By the time you have trained Afghan is likely to have be wound up by then and the job will be less intense than it is at the moment. The pay is very good once you qualify the investment in your training is enormous. I know the Army sucks at times but a change (of unit) is as good as a rest.
Floater AAC is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2010, 16:03
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: London
Age: 37
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Re: Army Air Corp


Following on from Floater AAC's comment - I was wondering how you go about joing the AAC? What's the age limit? Do you have to join the army, no matter what you end up doing for them, or can you join on the basis of wanting to fly the AAC's helicopters? (I'm guessing it's the former of those two). If you joined as an officer, got through sandhurst, and got good flight aptitude scores etc, then what would your chances of flying be?
Alex London is offline  
Old 5th Oct 2010, 20:02
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hogwarts
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Check your PMs.

Floater AAC
Floater AAC is offline  
Old 8th Oct 2010, 18:13
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South East
Age: 33
Posts: 6
I've got a friend who has now transfered over to the AAC to fly apaches, he was previously in the Royal Engineers. Best thing to do is go down to your Army Recruiting Office, you can join soley to pilot helicopters if you get selected, I believe. However you need to give them 8 years. You don't need to be an officer.
Antony49 is offline  
Old 9th Oct 2010, 14:56
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: England
Posts: 4
Look before you leap!


My current situ is JAA CPL(H) IR 225hrs TT and no job and not even close.
Be very careful before you commit time and money to the industry.

If you spend enough money with a FTO they may just give you a commercial lift flying a few hours a year on a turbine but the chances are, that the people before you haven't been able to move on and are still occupying the position you seek. Insurance requirements are a stumbling block for many companies who need around 500hrs TT before letting a pilot loose on public transport ops.

Instructor-wise you will have to build to 250hrs TT before you can sit the FI course and I have it on good authority that there are still desperate pilots with CPL IR ratings doing the FI course in the hope of getting a few hours in. The pay isn't great and the hours accumulated, worse.

Offshore, contracts are tight at the moment with few operators willing to take on any new pilots, in effect recruitment is frozen. Bristow still have a few newbies coming through what used to be Severn Aviation at Gloucester but I don't know whether they get jobs at the end or not. They certainly pay through the nose for their training.

Industry outlook is bleak, it has been poor for the last 7 years since I started my PPL and despite all the optimistic threads, the situation will not improve until the global recession ends and more helicopters are in the air again.

As far as foreign licences go, yes it depends wholly on the quality of your training but do bear in mind that the CAA imposes minimum-hour restrictions on licence conversions that can escalate costs. If you are planning to work abroad, check the visa situ. Countries like Canada and Aus. don't want foreign pilots taking the few jobs that are available to home-grown jobseekers so unless you have an entitlement to work there, don't expect them to lay out the red carpet.

If I could do it all again, I would go down the military route, it wasn't available to me back then because of overly-stringent eyesight requirements. 8 years is realistically the thin-end of the wedge from PPL to a decent rotary job in the commercial world, at least if you sign up you will be flying for those 8 years rather than working as anything but a pilot to subsidise ratings and SFH!

Sorry, not what you want to hear but too many people are coming into this with their eyes shut or with empty promises from flight schools of work that just doesnt exist.

Regards, T
tommywarez is offline  
Old 12th Oct 2010, 08:42
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: back in time!
Age: 31
Posts: 35
Antony 49

I'm in exactly the same boat. Im in the REME and have nearly completed my PPL(a).
I'm planning on changing to AAC as soon as I can. 8 years sounds a lot and sometimes everrything sounds better than the army, but I think you should seriously consider the AAC. Keep as many doors open as possible before choosing your route to go down. If you do leave and decide to go the civvi route then good luck and i. Hope you achieve your dream. If you really want it then im sure you'll find a way to make it!

minimad is offline  

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