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tobese

Aspiring pilot advice thread

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Hi all,

23 y/o who doesn't love sitting at a desk all day, but always loved helicopters and wanted to fly. Looking for opinions and thoughts (dangerous, I know) about the heli industry:

-Getting in via the commercial route vs CAF route? What is it like transitioning from military to commercial work?

-What's life like as a rookie pilot in the industry right now? I heard its always a grind starting out, but what is job availability like?

-Physical limitations? I'm about 6'5", does that impact my chances of getting a job later on?

Any other tips or tricks you have for someone in my position I'd also appreciate! 

 

 

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Seems like the industry has warmed up to lower time pilots a bit more over the last couple years.  You see the odd ad online for a low time gigs, which always surprises me because you’d think they’d have stacks of resumes from upstanding guys and gals who did the traditional road trip. 

I’m a rookie sitting shy of 500hrs and so far I’ve been treated pretty well.  Definitely not the case for everyone,  out of my class of ~12 I think only 2 others have flown commercially. Year round work is also hard to come by,  I’m on contract for 3-4 months a year and then I’m back to my other job,  and from what I’ve seen at other operations the lower time pepole they keep year round are confined to the hangar most of the time.  

Tips I have for someone about to start would be:

1. Treat flight school like a job. Be on time and bring your A game every day.  I got hooked up with my first job through the school,  so who knows where it could lead if you make a good impression.

2.  Be willing to move anywhere for work.

3.  When canvassing for a job do your research to find out who has a track record of getting people going.  Don’t bother driving out of your way to an operator who does hydro and heliskiing most of the time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you like being treated like garbage and cleaning the toilets of rich owners who complain all day about not making money, Pilots being princess’ and how little you know about flying?

Well young fella this is the career  for you!  Be prepared to be treated like junk for a bunch of years cuz your first comment from CSC1 is a rare one we have low time pilots when I am up to 1000hrs and they are still “not people” in owners eyes.  Until you can make them money all year round and don’t smack a set of blades you are their personal slave.  Over 15 years I’ve seen it all even upper management in companies taking bets on which low time pilot would quit first and which would stick it out.  It has gotten better over the years but not much. Be prepared to put up with more sh*t than you can think of, Long days and junk pay, and be expected to move wherever a job is and jump at the drop of a hat. Oh and lastly hopefully you aren’t married or have a GF cuz you’ll be divorced or broke up within the first year.

 

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Go Fixed wing, their industry is booming, pay is better. Not as exciting, but that doesn't seem to be as important when you get older. More leg room in a 737 lol

Attend a college fixed wing program, some airlines are recruiting before they even have a diploma in hand.

If I was younger, I'd convert

My opinion 

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1 hour ago, 49 Merc said:

Go Fixed wing, their industry is booming, pay is better. Not as exciting, but that doesn't seem to be as important when you get older. More leg room in a 737 lol

Attend a college fixed wing program, some airlines are recruiting before they even have a diploma in hand.

If I was younger, I'd convert

My opinion 

Yup I would definitely recommend fixed wind as well plus you don’t have to deal with clients who think they know more about piloting than you cuz they fly in a helicopter 3 times a year.  Also you don’t have to lug a longline and bucket and all the other ops gear you have with you around on a fire. Them fixed wing boys literally walk around the plane jump in the front seat and punch in their route on the flight computer. They don’t have fuel calculations or have to load bags the just need to make sure to land and take off on the right runway and make sure to wake up when ATC calls them.

 

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Well the first kind of work you will start out doing is cleaning the bathrooms and sweeping the floors along with washing the owners vehicle.  Next you might be put on some ground crew job if you are lucky and work 14+ hours a day for less than minimum wage.  Yo might even be lucky enough to be told “ if you’re lucky I’ll let you fly my machine.”

its a junk industry stay away

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1 hour ago, tobese said:

What kind of sh*t do you have to put up with when you start out? What kind of work do they start you off doing?

Tobese, 

Take all of these comments with a grain of salt.  I entered this industry with some knowledge of "how it works" from the job I had previous to flying.  I was around your age and had another career already so for me it was going to be a change and with that, to start at the bottom again.  That said, I saved for a few years until I had most of my flight school monies saved up rather than going into massive debt.  Once school started, I treated it as a job interview from day one and it paid off.  My first gig out school was a no flying gig, but that was communicated.  In which, I learned a ton about ops gear and machine prep on the mediums and heavies.  It was a short term contract job to get the machines ready for fires and such, once July hit, I was done. 

My second gig the following April was a large reputable company.  When I was hired there, on the recommendation by the flight school owner, it was understood and discussed that there'd be no PPC until a minimum a year went by and that you worked hard.  I moved my wife up to the north where they had a main base and we both made a go of it.  It was means to an end and adventure at the same time. It paid off, big time!

That company kept their promise and was PPC'd the following spring.  The first year was still very little flying, but it slowly came.  Then came the endorsements and the long line work, and next thing you know, I was a regular line pilot.  Being that we lived in town, I was always selected for the jobs ahead of the rotational pilots and it meant we had year round work because we lived in the company's back yard.

I don't work for said company anymore due to growth opportunities elsewhere, but we left on good terms and if push came to shove, I'd go back to them in a heartbeat.

My point here is that the world of helicopters is a challenge to get into.  It takes many years of hard work and unfortunately some companies don't pay off in the end.  I had to research long and hard about who I wanted to fly for, how I was going to achieve my goals, and to have realistic time lines.  The airlines are a sure thing if you want a relatively easy path to the seat.  But if you do want to take the long way around, you'll meet some incredible people, work long hours with little pay, drink a ton of beer, and see parts of the country that people would give their left arm for.

Don't get bogged down about the naysayers, educate yourself in both fields (fixed wing and rotary wing).  Invest in yourself by spending a lot of time evaluating flight schools, companies you'd like to work for and their respective owners/managers. Above all else, enjoy the process and have the humility to learn from it all.

Hope this helps!

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And to add to th3m's very rare exception to the rule. Be prepared to be out 60-80 grand with maybe at best a 5% chance of landing a flying gig after 5 years. The industry is in the tank for low hour guys and most company owners are complete using sociopaths. Not all like th3m says but a vast majority.

People can call us naysayers all they want but there is a whole lot of truths to what the other guys are saying. Go fixed wing if you want to be treated like a professional and a good chance of finding work or go helicopter if you are willing to take a big gamble financially and career wise. Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide.

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