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Why Did You Choose The School You Trained At?


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I thought this might be an interesting topic to help aspiring pilots choose a school or bring up ideas or thoughts that could help them. I started my training about a month ago at Central Helicopter Training Academy in St. Thomas, ON. Before I decided that CHTA was where I wanted to go, I called and visited a couple of schools to feel out there facility. Here is a list of some of the PROS of my search.



-comfort level with instructors and there level of communication.


Kinda seems basic at first, but considering the amount of learning that goes on and if the instructor has a hard time explaining things, this could lead to frustration or confusion. Also, I decided to do an intro flight with CHTA to see how clear and comfortable the instructor was while flying. We pay a huge amount of money per hour to fly, so I don't want to waste money because of a lack of communication. An instructors knowledge and experience in the industry is key as well. I don't want to learn from a 250hr freshly graduated instructor who cannot teach me real world lessons.


-tuition payments


This was very important to me (like everyone else I am sure). I was not comfortable paying all my money upfront because it felt as if a schools intentions were to take my money. I know this isn't the case, but I felt that a school that allows you to pay as you go and offers to refund any unused balance if you had to leave the training, was a school that stood behind there service.




This one will get mixed feedback I am sure, but it's my money and this is what I decided to train on and why.......CHTA operates a brand new fully loaded R44 as well as a Bell 206. I was back and forth about doing the bulk of my training on the 44, since the cost per hour is lower on the 22. Everyone knows the state of the economy and the competitive job market for 100 hr newbies. By training on the 44 instead of the 22, I am training on the helicopter that I am going to be using on my first job. If this difference in PIC hours makes the difference between getting a job or waiting another year, it will be money well spent. Of course it may not matter to some companies, but that is a risk I am willing to take.


-training aids


CHTA is currently building a 15,000 sq ft hanger which will provide a central location for all training (classroom, repair facility, offices, simulator, etc). This will allow me to be surrounded in an environment that will help me learn. They purchased a FLYIT simulator to help with instrument training as well. Anything extra that you can surround yourself with or use to make the most of the training will in turn make you a better, more knowledgeable pilot.


-company history


Even though CHTA is a new school (opened in January 2009), it's parent company (Zimmer Air) has been operating successfully for over 30 years. This isn't a huge factor, but it's nice to know that the business is run by competent, smart people who know how to build and maintain a successful company. The investment into the new hanger is also a sign that they looking at a long term commitment in the training sector of flying.




The school is located 5 minutes from my house. Even though this wasn't something I put into consideration (since I want the best education, not convenience), it was a nice cherry on the cake.




I put this at the bottom of the list cause it was the last thing I considered. Cost wasn't my main concern, quality education was. Was there schools that were cheaper?? Of course......but I felt as though the extra money will be worth it in the end.



Hope this helps some future students open up questions that they need to evaluate before choosing a school. I am not going to post the names of other schools because some people may take it as bashing, and this is the farthest thing from it. Every school offers something different and every student is looking for something different, the key is to find the right match for yourself. Some of the other schools had lots of great points, but in the end, the above reasons were why I chose the school I did.





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Hi Matt, interesting question.


I interviewed a couple of dozen people working as pilots, ops managers, and chief pilots in the BC Lower Mainland. One of my questions was, "Where should I train?" Heli-College in Langley was the only place mentioned by everyone. So I trained there.





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When I trained back in the 70's.....my thoughts on where were quite simple, closest school to the mountains in B.C., and the most experienced instructors. Transwest Helicopter School was an easy choice.....Neil Hart (RIP my friend) was a true great instructor and gentleman.

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I chose my instructor, not the school, Dick Wood. Thanks, wish you were still around! One of the proudest days of my career was when he stopped by to say hi, and I was shootin Auto's, He said "I was watchin, not bad". There was a time back in my Chinook days when all 4 instructors learned to fly from Dick.


Interesting that my log book says PIC - R Wood _____________ Student - R wood,


The mountains and 47 were only something I appreciated after I gained some experience. It was so hard to figure out with no INTERNET available. I must have made a thousand phone calls to understand it. I remember asking every instructor I talked to " how many of your students are working" most gave me some Bull Siht number, Dick said " oh some where around 40%" he had my respect for telling the truth.


Good Luck Heli-mat!



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