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How to Become a Helicopter Pilot

Rujuta Borkar
How to become a helicopter pilot? Ever thought about that? Read the following story to find the answers.

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It is important to understand that becoming a pilot is not an easy task. It requires a lot of dedication, patience, and a real interest in the task, among other things, even though the salary earned is quite high.
Only if one has the above qualities can one expect to become a pilot. Given here is a brief account of how to go about becoming a commercial pilot.

Types of Pilots

There are varied types of helicopter pilot jobs available today, and you need to decide which one you want to be. These are some of them:
  • Flight instructor
  • Law enforcement
  • Test pilot
  • Firefighter
  • Sightseeing
  • Emergency medical aid
  • Search and rescue
  • Offshore support
  • Traffic reporting
  • Ariel surveying
  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Photography
  • Cargo lift
Do You Like it?
Becoming a helicopter pilot is not the same as being an airplane pilot. And so the steps are a little different when it comes to being a commercial pilot. The first step is to find out whether you really like flying a helicopter. To do this, take a trial helicopter lesson from a training school and ensure that you really like doing it.

Getting Your Finances in Place

The cost to become a helicopter pilot is quite extravagant. It will take approximately USD 50,000. Give and take a few thousand. This is because, to get at the level of a helicopter pilot, one needs to train in the student, private, and commercial stages. Many aspirants require financial aid to complete the lessons.
Therefore make sure that you have your finance options figured out before getting into this. But rest assured, you should be able to earn it back―what with the high range of a commercial pilot salary―almost USD 100,000 to 200,00 per annum.

Joining a Helicopter Flight School

This will solely require you to research what choices are the best for you. You'll need to find colleges that offer these courses and then contact them to know what kind of training they provide.
For example, the kind of helicopters used, what is the schedule like, what will be the requirements that need to be fulfilled to join a course etc. Research the flight school well. The school should teach all levels of flight training and should be accredited to teach the student through CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) stages.

Age as a Factor

One can start their training from a flight school, as young as 16 years of age and can attain their private pilot helicopter license at 17.

Getting Your Documents Right

In order to go solo, you need to make sure that you've passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical exam. Which will require you to undergo a complete medical test that will determine your health, hearing, and vision efficiency. You will also need a Student's Pilot Certificate in order to go solo, for which you need to be at least 16, speak, read, and understand English, and hold a medical certificate.

Getting the Private Pilot Helicopter License

After you have the student license, you need to work towards getting the private license. For this, different schools prescribe different requirements. You will need to take written and oral tests and a flight test, which will require you to have a certain amount of flying hours (depends on the school).

Becoming a Commercial Pilot

The main requirement needed to advance into this step is to gather flight hours (about 150) to get the commercial license. If you do not have a commercial license, you do not get paid. Simple. Also, make sure that you start collecting flight hours because the rules have gotten stricter and most employers will demand quite a high number.

Time Taken to Become a Pilot

It is difficult to give an estimate of the exact time frame on the time period that it takes to become a helicopter pilot. Some might become pilots at the first go and will have procured their license in under 6 months of starting training, while others could even take several years to undergo the training and pass the varied tests.
That is why it is said that one needs to be genuinely interested in knowing and understanding the intricacies of how to become a helicopter pilot. It is not something that you can take up on a whim and discard just as easily. So if you've made a choice for yourself, I hope it is an informed one and it brings for you some great flying experiences.