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Chinook, Bighorn, Kootenay Valley Helicopters?


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here is my point of view for what it is worth...


First of all I would recommend that you take the time to visit and fly with your short list of schools. I had a short list of 4. 30mins should be sufficient to get an idea of each training method. You are going to be spending a lot of time with your instructor so it would be good be sure that you are going to be able to get a long and communicate well.


I would also including in your questioning what how the schools prepare you for operational flying. After all you are not planning on getting a license you are planning on getting a job, so you school should prepare you for this.


I would also look to a school that will schedule you to fly 1 a day ( no more no less) as I feel that this is the optimal amount for learning as least for the majority of the training schedule. Less and you will not progress efficently more and you will burn out. Weather will keep you on the ground now and then but that will probably work out ok.


Ground school is as much you responsibility as the instructor's everyone is different, so find a program that suits your learning style.


It is my opinion that fitting a turbine endorsement into your initial training is not that useful, you spend 10 or 20 hours learning a new machine a great expense when you should be 'perfecting' the basic skills. You will probably not be flying anything for 6 months after you get you license, so you will loose you feel for that machine anyway and the company you end up flying with may send you out on and R44 for the first year, so what is the point? In my view get you license on one machine, get as good as you can with that and wait to get a job before you get an turbine endorsement




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  • 2 weeks later...

A big thankyou for all the replies and PMs. You've all been more than helpful!


An update: I'll be starting training at Bighorn on Sept 15/'08.


I paid them a visit last Thursday, and spent about three hours there chatting with everyone from the students who just started the January course, a brand new pilot who just finished her flight test (and who is now working for Bighorn), several of the staff and instructors (many who went out of their way to introduce themselves to me), plus I had a great chat with Richard Alzetta.


I flew my "discovery" flight with Curtis Nadon. Despite one machine that went in the hangar for an unscheduled repair and several students lined up for an afternoon of training, he found the time to take me up for a (generous) half-hour lesson. Exhilarating, and humbling all at the same time. By the second half of the flight, I could sort of keep a straight line (if not steady altitude), but I can say with conviction that my hover needs work :P:lol:


I've never been more excited to do anything in my life. September won't come soon enough!!


In the meantime, I've got lots of reading/studying to do...


Once again, thanks. I look foward to "blogging" highlights of my training once I get going.



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So what made you decide on Bighorn instead of the others?


I did tons of research on schools, and based on my findings, plus the advice of many other pilots, I narrowed my choice down to three or four schools. In the final running, I narrowed it down to KVH or Bighorn.


Location played a big part into it. Both are close to me (easy move), both gave me access to relatively cheap accomodation (affordable living in Creston, family members in Calgary), and both were in an environment I want to learn in - in/near mountains, higher average density altitude, and in the case of Bighorn, a hopping busy airspace.


In all honesty, I only visited the one school. I gathered a lot of info on what to ask and expect of a heli school, plus I had some expectations of my own. I figured if I went to Bighorn and something there turned me off or rubbed me the wrong way, then I'd keep visiting other schools. I wen into Bighorn with a critical eye and a laundry list of questions, and came away with informative answers, and an overall great impression of everything/everyone there.


In the brief time I spent there, I felt welcome and at home, and my discovery flight both challenged and inspired me.


In short, it felt 'right' , so I signed up.



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