Flying helicopters can be a thrilling and liberating experience. However flying an airplane and flying a helicopter are two distinct professions, with both needing a lot of commitment and hard work. Helicopters are required in the military, during rescue operations and by media agencies. To become a military helicopter, you have to first join the Armed Forces and then follow the path that is charted out for you by the military. Here we have mainly discussed about a commercial helicopter pilot’s career.
Eligibility to begin Helicopter training
You need to be a minimum of 16 years of age for a student license
You must have good written and oral communication skills in English
At least a third class medical certificate form a certified FAA medical examiner, who is not your family doctor. Besides your general health and fitness, other faculties like vision and hearing will also be tested. It is important not to be color blind and essential that your vision can be corrected with the use of lenses.
Once you pass the eligibility criteria, you should begin at the very first rung which is – working towards obtaining your first license: private pilot helicopter license. This license authorizes you to fly a chopper anywhere and anytime but you won’t be paid for it. In order to get a private pilot license, you have to accumulate about 60 hours of helicopter flying time out of which at least 10 hours must be solo and 30-50 should be dual.
There is also a written, oral and a flight test that you need to clear for a private helicopter license. To go on to the next step where you will become a commercial helicopter pilot and get paid for flying, you need to obtain the commercial rotorcraft license which requires you to have 150 hours of helicopter flying time.
The cost entailed
You may need anything from $10000 – $ 15000 just to get your Private Pilot license as you will be spending approximately $200 per hour of flight time that includes the services of an instructor. To progress to the next level and obtain the commercial pilot license, it will cost you another $18000 to $20000.
Flight Instructor training
For almost all of the initial pilot jobs, the pilot needs to have accumulated 1000+ hours of helicopter flight. An economical way to achieve that target is by working as a flight instructor. They need around 200 hours when they begin working as instructors. Once they complete 200 hours, they can earn their Certified Trainer Instructor Rating. In all aspiring helicopter pilots will need to invest up to $ 40000 -$50000 dollars to get to this point.
It would also be advisable to obtain your instrument instructor certificate (CFII) as it will enhance your chances in the job market which can be quite competitive. Many opt for this rating after completing the CFI as they need to accumulate hours in order to get their commercial license.
Careers as a Helicopter Pilot
There are a myriad opportunities for a helicopter pilot, spanning several industries and locations. Some career options include fire fighting, search and rescue, VIP transport, utility support, law and order enforcement, media agencies, emergency medical services. With such a vast plethora of choice, the career of a helicopter pilot would certainly be one that is stimulating, fulfilling and rewarding.
The remuneration: The salary would greatly depend on your qualifications, experience and industry that you work in. However you can rest assured that the pay scale is attractive and on the rise since the demand for helicopter pilots is ever increasing.