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Looking For Advice/experiences


Emory
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Hi there, im new to this forum (and the whole industry in general). Being a pilot has been a goal of mine since i can remember, and now i think ive found a way to see it through. For the last year ive been digging for as much info as i can find about training/funding/employment etc... A co-worker of mine is a chinook graduate and i have picked his brain as much as possible and gotten a sense of the strugle ahead of me.

 

My first question is (of course) the funding: being 22 yrs old, the only way i have found to come up with the funds up front is the oilpatch. ive been working a drilling rig for 2 years now, making descent money, despite saving little of it (blast my youthfull self) i know that im now in a position to bank some real money to invest in my training. i am concerned with how long my 140lb body can handle rigging though. Basically i want to know if getting myself into debt and into school now (or soon) would be a colossal mistake? i dont expect that you guys can say with complete certainty what is best for me, but just some experiences, how did you make the final commitment? Did you lay it all on the line?

 

Ive also started taking flight lessons for my private fixed wing license (just the first couple lessons). I know this is something i want to have, but how valuable is it when going for the heli certificate? im just concerned that maybe i should put all of my resources into the commercial heli certificate, as it is my main goal. Any advice would be great.

 

And is it reasonable to think that i can walk into these schools with zero knowledge? i know they say they teach for begginers, but i cant imagine that a good portion of the students have never been in a helicopter? The private fixed wing course really starts from the ground up, but would a career oriented specific course not require at least some background experience?

 

Thanks for all comments,

im all ears

Emory

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Welcome to the zoo Emory !

 

First off, if you can help it, try to end up at the end of your training with no debt. It'll be easier for you to find that first job, 'cause most of them pay barely more than minimum wage. If you're saddled with 50k of debt, it'll be harder to get by on low wages. I know you really want to get into training yesterday. I know the feeling. I made the mistake of going for the "pay later" option and getting into serious debt. I have made it into the industry, but five years later I'm still paying off my loans.

 

As far as your stiff-wing PPL, it won't hurt, as airmanship is airmanship, whether private or commercial, fixed or fling wing. Just ask Cole. It won't give you any credit towards your CPL(H) though.

 

Yes, ab initio training starts with complete ignorance. It wouldn't hurt to get a good book on helicopter basics though (see the "Good books to own" thread for suggestions).

 

If you want insight on the risks of the trade, get a hold of Gregg Whyte's Fatal Traps for Helicopter Pilots.

 

Many pilots got their starts as drillers or juggies. If you think that's hard work, wait'll you're a pilot and have to fight off the babes... ;)

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Well I've got some spare time so I'll let ya know how this has worked out thus far.

 

Debt, I dont know how much you've managed to save, but being debt free has huge benefits. I know guys working on less then 1500 a month as low time pilots for quite a while after school.

 

That being said, there ARE government funds that can help you out, and EI can chip in quite a lot if you line it up right. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take advantage of any of this as I went from being 4 months, to 8 weeks, to 2 weeks away from school in about 3 days haha. Get your hands on anything the government will get you, someone once told me that they will 'only give you a few thousand dollars'.

Keep in mind $5000.00 is 10% of what you need, thats 10% you wont have to pay intrest on, or 10% you can spend on the perks like the jetranger.

 

Personally, I'm $50,000.00 in debt to do this, I managed to get a great deal on intrest and its a line of credit so at this point, if I have a bad month, all I owe is the intrest. Not a bad deal at all. It is also a huge motivational tool because theres no penalties on early payment so the faster I pay it back, the less intrest I have to pay off.

 

I say if you're in a job where you can earn the coin to end up flying within a year or two then pay it off befor hand.

 

Next topic, fixed wing tickets. I had my PPL(FW) going in, MET and NAV are a straight up trade, back and forth everything goes really well. Airlaw is very simillar with some minor changes, and the general section is fairly straight forward after having a good grasp on the stiff side.

 

My school requests everyone goes for a ride befor hand to weed out people who aren't geared for this kind of work. Not all schools insist on it but most of them will, be careful as there are schools who won't be honest with you regarding progress and success.

 

Sounds like you're taking the right steps.

 

You'll also find its alot easier to take people for rides when it doesnt cost 900 an hour with a licence to fly spam cans.

 

Good luck, Keep us posted.

 

Cole

-Freshly Minted Commercial Helicopter licence B)

post-1075-1203407724_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the responses guys.

Im still not sure how im going to go about this. I really dont want to rush into anything here, but the way things are going i may do a little of both. the line of credit sounds ok to me, but i want to have at least 1/2 the money up front, and then any grants i can get my hands on. not to mention i should be able to get a good portion of my income tax back from my time in the oil field.

 

So far though, ive just left my job on the rig ( 2 years on one rig was eating my brain!), and i will try to get work in the Heli siesmic field after break up. Im hoping to accomplish 2 things here: 1 get a sense of what real pilots do for work (as well as suck as much info as possible out of them), and 2: save a good amount of capital for school. i really dont want to put this off too long, but i also dont want to make a poor decision out of excitement! oh the choices.

Debt doesnt scare me half as much as procrastination and inaction, i think since time is on my side i should bite the bullet and jump in... maybe.

 

i might just wait on the fixed wing, like you say cole "Keep in mind $5000.00 is 10% of what you need," and the ppl would be another 6-7k i could use to get my CPL.

 

another quick question, how many of these acronyms are there?! ive managed to decipher maybe 5 through my browsings, but i think im going to need a jargon dictionary of some sort.

 

Thanks for your thoughts guys!

Em

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Thanks for the responses guys.

Im still not sure how im going to go about this. I really dont want to rush into anything here, but the way things are going i may do a little of both. the line of credit sounds ok to me, but i want to have at least 1/2 the money up front, and then any grants i can get my hands on. not to mention i should be able to get a good portion of my income tax back from my time in the oil field.

 

So far though, ive just left my job on the rig ( 2 years on one rig was eating my brain!), and i will try to get work in the Heli siesmic field after break up. Im hoping to accomplish 2 things here: 1 get a sense of what real pilots do for work (as well as suck as much info as possible out of them), and 2: save a good amount of capital for school. i really dont want to put this off too long, but i also dont want to make a poor decision out of excitement! oh the choices.

Debt doesnt scare me half as much as procrastination and inaction, i think since time is on my side i should bite the bullet and jump in... maybe.

 

i might just wait on the fixed wing, like you say cole "Keep in mind $5000.00 is 10% of what you need," and the ppl would be another 6-7k i could use to get my CPL.

 

another quick question, how many of these acronyms are there?! ive managed to decipher maybe 5 through my browsings, but i think im going to need a jargon dictionary of some sort.

 

Thanks for your thoughts guys!

Em

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Right, something else I didn't touch on is the benefits of training the ppl and the benefits of tax.

 

First is the tax credits, once you've completed your post secondary education, you will recieve forms that allow you to collect the tax back on whatever the cost of your course is.

 

Benefits of the ppl- according to the cars, the holder of a PPL(FW) may reduce the groundschool to 60 hours. In all reality this means nothing for your licence, youre likely to spend all 80 hours in class, and then some, but heres the big benefit, all the money you are to put into the ppl now counts as a tax credit because, as there is credit for it, it now becomes post secondary education. Again deductable.

 

The ppl is really personal choice... should I do it again, I can't be sure if I would do the ppl again, I would certainly make sure I had all the ground material to my best understanding going in though, watching the new batch of students study reminided me how fortunate I was to have background knowledge and not need to be studying 24/7. Though I did study alot, they seemed to be at it alot more.

 

Wow, long winded posts tonight, note to self, stop drinking coffee before 10:00

Cole

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Save up the money and then some - I will have been in your situation for almost a year and a half, two by the time I start my training. In that time I've read a lot about these wacky machines and Canadian aviation in general. It's given me a good understanding, better than most newbies anyway. It's also given me time to do ground school, start working part-time in the industry and make contacts. So it's not like while you're saving you'll just be 'wasting' time. You can get a lot of the work out of the way if you're motivated. Saving will also give you time and perspective to decide if flying is really for you. It's one thing to say you've wanted to fly since you were 5, quite another to have 50k in hand and give it to an FTU instead of buying a home or starting your retirement savings or doing whatever else with the money.

 

Like someone said, having no debt gives you mobility and if it doesn't work out, you won't be working the next long while paying off your past failures. You can just move on with your life.

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If you put 50+ grand into flight training and it "just doesnt work out" your school has misled you in one way or another. 'Not working out' isnt a product of fate, it's a lack of motivation, skill or attitude that's normally picked up within minutes of talking to someone.

 

I only know a few unemployed pilots and none of them lack the potential to go out and get a job. There are a few companies that will give anyone a shot, one in particular that tells lowtimer pilots "I will hire you, Ill work you like a dog on the ground every day for a year then we'll talk" or something to that effect, most every other lowtimer I've talked to has been told the same thing by that company and I know a few that have confirmed that.

 

Unfortunately some schools neglect to mention they dont think you have the capacity to do this kind of work, often when you're flying with a 250 hour instructor.

 

Anyone willing to devote a couple years to the oil patch is obviously willing to do the same for this sort of a career so I don't think you'll have the same problem there.

 

Any idea of which school you plan to go to?

 

Look through this site carefully, theres a lot of info for someone in your position here.

 

Cheers.

Cole

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Who said it was up to fate to decide if you fail or not?

 

There are things beyond a person's control that no amount of motivation, skill or attitude as you claim can compensate for. When that happens, it sucks having a mountain of debt on your back.

 

In fact financing can expose you to such a situation - namely interest rates going up such that servicing your debt on a minimum wage salary becomes impossible.

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Sorry, rereading your earlier post I realize I may have mis-judged what you are trying to get across.

 

My point is that barring some sort of third party such as an injury or loss of medical, something external, if you have the licence, theres jobs out there.

 

If intrest rates pick up, which they are bound to sooner or later, I have the oppertunity to lock in to a fixed rate loan, and a fall back career as a crane operator, which is far from minimum wage, if the financial situation gets to be one I can no longer handle.

 

Like I said befor, my minimum payments are intrest only, so unless the intrest rate triples I should be able to swing the payments based on VERY minimal pay. I have an unlimited amount of time to pay down my lines of credit, but the longer I stretch it out, the more intrest I pay.

 

Should I lose the capacity to work in its entirety, im pretty much bankrupt haha.

On the other hand, if two people decide to go to school at the same time, one finances it, and the other works in the patch to come up with the cash, say two years down the road both people are paralyzed.

The first person has spent a year on the ground, if that, and another year flying thanks to his work ethic, hes flown a few hundred hours, and loved his job, he will never fly again.

The latter has spent two years saving for training and is just about to start, hes worked countless hours, taken every spare shift he can, and saved up all the money, he will never fly AT ALL.

 

I also believe that my bank insures the LOC so if I can't work they offer some sort of insurance as part of it.

 

Long story short, I don't regret getting loans for it, and I'm glad I trained when I did. My theory is that the industry is in a large boom phase right now with lots of pilots moving up quickly, but how long can that last?

Give it another year of hiring, mabey two, and the jobs could be fewer and further between, especially ones like we're seeing now with lowtime pilots walking into flying jobs.

 

I may very well be wrong about the hiring boom, we may just be at the surface of what will be a long prosperous run for pilots of all levels, but hindsight is 20/20.

 

Cole

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