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Best helicopter school in Canada right now ?

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I know there is no perfect answer for the question but would like to hear different perspectives and opinions. Please mention the school & the reason for it including personal experiences.

If you have any other school may be in US or anywhere else in the world that you think is the best then please mention it too.

Please leave the industry & employment discussion for another day as I am aware of that but still interested to obtain CPL.

For me its the 1st step & the choice of school is priority No.1 & most important.

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Run away unless you have the money to buy your own helicopter.  This industry eats it's young.  They all have the same requirements, so in theory they teach the same stuff.

A school with an in-house examiner will be more inclined to pass anyone to maintain their status/right to self examine.  Too many failed flight tests = lost flight training credentials.  BC/Alberta have the more challenging terrain so look for schools out there, they'll prepare you for the most broad range of conditions.  Train in Canada and it's a tax deduction, US is cheaper, but no tax breaks.

  • Haha 1

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Look at the experience level of the instructors.  Some foreign schools have very low-time instructors building time instructing.

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  When I started in 05 the generally accepted opinion was to attend a school run by a big company. Great Slave, Canadian, HTSC etc... The idea was if you did well and made the right connections you had potential to be hired by the parent company. This is no longer a reality. To my knowledge all the big companies have shutdown initial training operations.

  If I were you I would look very hard for a small school with experienced staff. You want to find an instructor that is personable, experienced and well rounded in industry skills. For example an instructor may have 10 000hrs teaching. But has never faced the challenges of bush aviation (tent camps, pushy customers, bad food etc...). Perhaps learning from someone that has met with these challenges may better set you up for success.  As they can pass along real world tips and advice.

Any of the small popular piston engine helicopters will be fine for the bulk of the license requirement, but budget enough money for a Bell 206 endorsement (5-8hrs) at the end. Choose a school operating more than one helicopter. As it may prevent delays in your training due to maintenance or breaks downs. Ground school is all so very important. Having a good classroom with proper teaching aids and study space is a bonus. At the end of your training I would advise doing 1 hr of long line. It'll be ugly and mentally exhausting. But all you want is a basic understanding and some safe direction. You'll have your whole career to perfect it. Most schools encourage visits and will arrange a tour. Look for one that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  Industry prospects are very good right now for aspiring pilots.

 I know I haven't answered your question regarding who operates the best school. However I am hoping you'll be able to make an informed decision based upon some of the positive posts.   

I guarantee you'll eventually get grumpy like the rest of us if you pursue this lifestyle. But by gosh we all had a lot of fun getting that way I'm sure.

Good luck and be safe!

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16 hours ago, Norm said:

  When I started in 05 the generally accepted opinion was to attend a school run by a big company. Great Slave, Canadian, HTSC etc... The idea was if you did well and made the right connections you had potential to be hired by the parent company. This is no longer a reality. To my knowledge all the big companies have shutdown initial training operations.

  If I were you I would look very hard for a small school with experienced staff. You want to find an instructor that is personable, experienced and well rounded in industry skills. For example an instructor may have 10 000hrs teaching. But has never faced the challenges of bush aviation (tent camps, pushy customers, bad food etc...). Perhaps learning from someone that has met with these challenges may better set you up for success.  As they can pass along real world tips and advice.

Any of the small popular piston engine helicopters will be fine for the bulk of the license requirement, but budget enough money for a Bell 206 endorsement (5-8hrs) at the end. Choose a school operating more than one helicopter. As it may prevent delays in your training due to maintenance or breaks downs. Ground school is all so very important. Having a good classroom with proper teaching aids and study space is a bonus. At the end of your training I would advise doing 1 hr of long line. It'll be ugly and mentally exhausting. But all you want is a basic understanding and some safe direction. You'll have your whole career to perfect it. Most schools encourage visits and will arrange a tour. Look for one that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  Industry prospects are very good right now for aspiring pilots.

 I know I haven't answered your question regarding who operates the best school. However I am hoping you'll be able to make an informed decision based upon some of the positive posts.   

I guarantee you'll eventually get grumpy like the rest of us if you pursue this lifestyle. But by gosh we all had a lot of fun getting that way I'm sure.

Good luck and be safe!

Thanks.

You pointed out lot of unique points which is what I was looking for.

For example:- bell 206 endorsement & 1 hr long line.

Now I am hoping to gain different perspectives based on which I can decide the school best for me, if not the best school out there.

Finally I dont mind negative posts as it will not change my overall decision for getting CPL but all I can do is learn something.

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IMO:

There are alot of really good flight schools out there, some which have been mentioned previously.

My apologies in advance as I am going to make some comments which are related but not what was directly asked by the OP.

A suggestion I have made to many eager want to be pilots over the years, is to not only do your homework on the school but the actual roles and duties of the position, as well as the industry as a whole. The latter two being more important in my mind.

Learn as much about the helicopter pilot position as possible. Although you may have a great desire to fly, the majority of your career will be spent outside of the cockpit. The industry is very fickle as well. Boom or bust, and always very seasonal. Unless your immediate family member owns the company, low time pilots are commonly treated as an expendable resource. Not always,  but it is very frequent in my industry experiences. It has pained me to watch such great people be treated like garbage by manager and ownership over the years.

It's a tough cookie to crack getting in to the pilot game, but yes many have done so. Many have also paid their $60K+ and either never landed a job in the industry or left shortly after. It's your money and more importantly your time, something you can never get back.

Another suggestion I might make, if mechanically inclined, would be to enter the industry as an apprentice AME or in a ground support position during the summer. At the bare minimum, before you start spending money on flight training you get some industry experience and get to experience the complicated interworkings of the industry. You also earn a little money for you time spent working and learning if a career in the industry is right for you.

Dont be scared off from negative comments, especially coming from a somewhat anonymous forum such as this. I do however suggest you do you due diligence before jumping head first into an industry that is very hard to get a start in.

 

Best of luck.

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Being a lowtimer myself I wouldn't touch the helicopter industry with a 50' pole, with TC Aviation screwing everything up.

If you are interested in flying there are tremendous opportunities going fixed wing at less cost and more advantages.

Do you see the helicopter industry offering any incentives, dear H-A-C and the owners club are just going to become "DRONE OPERATORS".

You can always get a helicopter licence later after you get tired flying all over the world on airlines.

Helicopters are more interesting to fly and more challenging, but not with the industry attitude of today. 

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6 hours ago, jljohnston79 said:

Another suggestion I might make, if mechanically inclined, would be to enter the industry as an apprentice AME or in a ground support position during the summer. At the bare minimum, before you start spending money on flight training you get some industry experience and get to experience the complicated interworkings of the industry. You also earn a little money for you time spent working and learning if a career in the industry is right for you.

Very good point. Thanks. Will look into apprentice AME or ground support position.

No apologies needed as the info you provided are very relevant.

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