Category: Helicopter Studies

Mosquito Helicopter: How Low Can a Helicopter’s Cost Go?

For over twenty years, the Canadian geniuses John Uptigrove and Dwight Junkin researched and then developed the Mosquito Helicopter. The helicopter’s innovative and simple design allows the aircraft to fly wherever it is needed for a fraction of the cost normally spent for corporate helicopters. The Mosquito is an affordable helicopter for pilot’s who have their FAA licenses but do not want to keep dishing out money to rent to fly.

What do you think about the Mosquito Helicopter?

For approximately $20K the entire Mosquito Helicopter Kit can be purchased, prices may vary according to which dealer you contact. You can actually start building the Mosquito for a lot less because the kit is sold in small affordable chunks and the first kit, the frame, sells for only $3K.

The Mosquito line of helicopters is one of the world’s most lightweight, manned helicopters.  Each aircraft has been developed to deliver excellent performance, reliability and most importantly ease of flight. Kit Planes Magazine says “The Mosquito is convincing, it is as close as you can come to real flying almost no means of support.  And the view is at least as good as a bird.” Ken Armstrong, with Kit Planes, went on to say “Flying the new Mosquito Ultralight was the most fun I’ve ever had with a Helicopter!“.

The frame of the Mosquito is aluminium and uses a simple triangulated structure with tubing all the through to maximize strength. The tail boom and support struts are made of Carbon Fibre to improve the power to weight ratio. The engine in the Mosquito is a two cycle and two cylinder with the highest power to weigh ratio on the helicopter market today.

The Mosquito Helicopter is made in Australia and currently the XE, XE285, AIR and XET models are available at their headquarters in Koo Wee Rup, which is 65 kilometers from Melbourne (CBD Central Business District).  The team at Mosquito is available for sales, spare parts and support for all Mosquito aircraft. In addition, you can receive assistance in assembling your aircraft, just contact a Mosquito representative for more information.

Pro’s and Con’s of Ultralight Helicopters

Ultralight helicopters are actual helicopters, despite what critics say. However they much more simply designed, and are a great deal lighter (in comparison to an R22 for example). Ultralights can have one or two seats, gas engine or turbine. And, the rotors diameters are much smaller.

Since the ultralight helicopters began to come out pilots have been intrigued. In the pilot world the opinions of light aircraft vary greatly. Some really like them, others claim they are dangerous and difficult to fly. One thing both sides agree upon, is that they are cheap.

The positives are that a pilot holding a private pilots license can own a ultralight helicopter $20,000!  Critics of the ultralights bring up the point that it’s possible to buy a used Robinson R22 for $45,000, and is much safer and performs much better.

To get the price down ultralight manufacturers sell the aircraft as kits. Meaning, the owner must build the helicopter. Buying a kit to build the helicopter yourself is will save you tens of thousands of dollars. The build out takes 200 to 300 hours.

When purchasing the ultralight kit, typical materials will include fiberglass, machined parts, instruments, rotor blades and engine are provided. A complete assembly manual also comes with the kits, along with customer service.

Video: Mosquito XE Ultralight Helicopter (Autorotation)

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Edgley Optica: Will No One Save This One-Eyed Aircraft?

Designed and first flown in 1979 by British designer Edgley, the Edgley Optica is a beautiful but nearly extinct aircraft.  The Optica was produced in limited quantities in the 1980’s and targeted the gap in the aviation market for low cost, fixed-wing observation aircraft.  The idea was to replace helicopters in activities such as: aerial photography, pipeline patrol, search and rescue missions and policing areas where there is no need for hover and land capabilities.

As you can see the look of the Edgley Optica takes some getting used to, it has the appearance of an huge eyeball fixed to the end of a airplane.  There appears to be a giant fan behind the cockpit, which joins the helicopter-type cockpit to the rest of the aircraft and acts as a fuselage and main spar. This ducted fan design allows the engine thrust to be closer to the aerodynamic thrust line which gives better stability during power changes. In addition, it protects the propeller from ground strikes, it provides better performance at low speeds and it is quieter than conventional propeller planes.

Will the Aviation Market Allow this Aircraft to Get off the Ground

Despite its lofty ambitions and futuristic look and characteristics, the Edgley Optica aircraft has been sidelined and searching for backing for decades by John Edgley, its creator. The main reason the initial production and release failed is due to the fatal crash of the very first aircraft released to the Hamstead Police Department. Immediately, financial backing was withdrawn and due to more troubling events (e.g. a fire attributed to arson destroyed 8 completed aircraft) temporarily sidelined.

Although the design is unorthodox, the flight qualities are ordinary and the aircraft’s instrumentation is all standard. The flight controls are the normal stick and rudder. Handling is no different than any other aircraft.  The difficult adjustment to make is getting used to the panoramic view. Another aspect of the Optica is its slow cruise speed can fool some pilots inot thinking that they are flying too slowly.

Now once again in 2015 the Optica is in play at the Paris Air Show and its creator John Edgley is trying to position his aircraft back into production. He needs to find a large sponsor or a buyer with veryt deep pockets. Could this aircraft eventually replace the helicopter? Without a miracle or financial backing for the Optica, we may never know.

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Volocopter: The Worlds First Green Helicopter

The VC 200 is the world’s first green helicopter. E-volo introduces the VC200 Velocopter– the first Volocopter able to carry two passengers while powered by batteries.

Exactly What is a Volocopter?

The Volocopter is a different type of aircraft, an no category to fill.  Although the Velocopter is very similar to several different types of aircraft, it really does not fit any particular category. Basically, a Volocopter is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft that is currently without a specific classification. What’s more, theVolocopter is an electric battery powered Manned Aerial Vehicle (MAV). This is in contrast, but similar to, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The VC 200 Velocopter looks like a helicopter, and acts somewhat like a helicopter. But the Velocopter differes because of all its propellers (18 propellers) and operation mechanisms. Helicopters have rotors, and the Volocopter has propellers. Helcopters have cyclics, foot pedals, and the collective. A Velocopter has a joystick. The e-volo company believes that propellers are an advantage over rotors because the mechanism that drives the propellers are a lot less complex.

Plus the VC 200 is designed to be safer than a helicopter. With the VC 200 there is a great deal of redundancy built in, which supposedly makes this aircraft safer than a helicopter. For example, if one or more of the propellers fail, the VC 200 is designed to land safely through two separate safety means.

The people behind the VC 200 e-volo project are Alexander Zosel (CEO and overall strategic coordinator), Stephan Wolf (CFO and Lead Software Developer), and Kathrin Mohr (Management Assistant). The aircraft is under development in Germany.

What Makes The VC 200 So Different?

The VC 200’s flight controls work through the “fly-by-wire” principles by the use of a joystick. The VC 200’s control system makes it vastly different from any other aircraft. Basically, flying the VC 200 is as as simple as it gets.

The VC 200 takes off and lands vertically. The pilot does not have to invest a great deal of energy or effort into the flight path angle, minimum speed, stall, mixture control, pitch adjustment and many other things which make helicopters difficult to fly.

The propellers generate the ascending force, and by means of a selective change in propeller speed it takes care of the steering. Different from helicopters, the VC 200’s mechanical pitch control of the propellers are not an issue at all.

Moreover, the position control and the directional control of the VC 200 takes place by means of several independent and mutually monitoring airborne computers which control the rotation speed of each separately.

Other Important Highlights of the Volocopter
  • Two passenger private aircraft.
  • Added pusher propeller enables an even faster flight.
  • Electric power plant – environmental friendly (green technology).
  • Up to an hour of flight powered by batteries (no fuel costs).
  • Hybrid combustion engine that powers batteries under develop (to extend flight range).
  • Improved safety – redundancy of all flight components and back up batteries>
  • Parachute attached in case of emergencies.
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Pilot Resume: This is Key to Your Career

In the aviation industry, a resume is much different – unique – and does not follow the traditional resume format that you will find within most industries. Building a pilot resume for a helicopter employer should be designed to fit the specific needs of the employer. Essentially, your resume will be all about YOU as it relates to the job offering. Sounds a little narcissistic, but it’s the truth. It should be noted, your resume should be about the AUTHENTIC you!. The following information was presented at HAI 2015 by Lyn Burkes, from Rotorcraft Pro.

What is the purpose of a resume? Simple, to gain the attention of the hiring authority which results in a phone call, email reply, and ultimately an interview. Your resume, along with some well-placed networking support, is the hook that will hopefully land you the job.

“Having a dream IS NOT a plan”, Randy Rowles – Helicopter Institute

Your resume is a key component to getting a face-to-face interview (initial interview). As a pilot, your goal is to get in front of the decision maker(s) and create dynamic interest. If you do it right, your resume will lead to an in-depth interview, a test flight, written exam, and then landing the JOB! You are competing against many other prospective pilots, including those with more experience. Your resume is one important part of getting an interview.

Keys to Presenting a Successful Pilot Resume

  • Format counts – present vital info how they want to see it
  • Realize and understand that aircraft experience is KING
  • Understand how hiring authorities read resumes
  • Gain positive attention by being creative and different
  • Little experience? Then highlight your experience as it relates to the position
  • Keep your resume to 1 page
  • Do not add a picture to your resume
  • Follow the employer’s instructions
  • Use a WORD doc with KEYWORD list
  • BE and sound interesting when sending the resume via email
  • Always customize your resume for the position that is being applied for

Resume Mistakes to Avoid

  • Spelling errors – poor grammar
  • Long-winded paragraphs
  • More than one-page resume
  • Funky format
  • Flight hours not broken down or too vague
  • Lists helicopter flown but fail to list flight hours in each aircraft
  • Only listing the last job you held
  • No schools listed
  • Does not match up resume with the job description
  • Fail to get the company name correct
  • Poorly written cover letter
  • Contact info incorrect or not listed

Proper Format of an Pilot Resume

  • Name, Address, Phone Number, Email Address
  • Summary of Qualifications
  • List of Qualifications – Professional Pilot Skills
  • Flight Time – Aircraft Type
  • Related Aviation Training
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Personal Statement

More Resources for Pilots

Resume Writing for Pilots

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Preparing For Your First Commercial Helicopter Pilot Job Interview

Do you want to land a commercial helicopter pilot job with a top company? Do you want to make good money while working for a great helicopter company? Then be prepared to follow this advice… The purpose of this article is to teach new commercial pilots how to conduct an interview with a prospective employer AND LAND THE JOB!.

Our first recommendation is to refrain from pursuing a commercial helicopter pilot job (scheduling an interview) until you’ve done ALL of your homework on the prospective employer(s). To be successful (which means you are offered a job) you need to be totally prepared for the interview. You have to “kill it!”

You Need to Know the Company, and Know People within the Company – Be Strategic

The first step to a successful interview is to get an interview scheduled. There is an art to scheduling an interview. For the best advice in setting up an interview with a Tier 1 helicopter employer.

If you have already networked with industry leaders and you have the necessary flight hours to compete for a job, your next step is visit the company (the interview). In the best scenario, you already know someone who works for the company, or someone who once worked at the company. It’s always helpful to know someone in the company (insider leverage) who will make an introduction and a recommendation on your behalf.

If you have not networked, or you do not know anyone within your company of choice, read “Helicopter Pilots: Landing a Good Job Includes Networking“. Again, there is an art to getting an interview, just as their is an art to landing the job through the interview. They are both connected to each other. There are no short cuts.

Become Known and Make a Positive Memorable Impression

If you do not know someone who currently works, or worked, for the company, be prepared to make your own memorable introduction (but please, do not attempt before you know everything about the company).

Although it may seem awkward, you have to get to know someone within the company of your choice. At the very least, be brave enough to call someone within the company and ask the right questions. Follow the company’s Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram…). “Friend” employees of the company (especially pilots). “Like”, “Comment” and “Share” their posts (be supportive and postive, but be geniune).

Take your time building relationships through Social Meda, and don’t be pushy. If you do “friend” people within the company, make sure your Social Media account are 110% professional. Thier first impression of you might come from your Facebook news stream. An inappropriate meme (politically charged) or an image of a drunken escapade will not help your chances.

After building “professional relationships” through Social Media look for opportunities to schedule an informal visit. Let your intentions be known, but always be appropriate in your engagement with staff and employees. And, most importantly, if you do schedule an informal visit (“just dropping by to introduce myself in person”) make sure you are ready for an impromptu interview on the spot (you just might get one).

BIG WARNING: Find out all that you can about a company before you submit a resume and fill out an application – the goal is to get an interview. But if the employer does don’t know your keen interest in their company you are just a resume on a stack of many resumes.

In addition, before you submit your resume and complete an application, make sure the targeted company knows the resume is coming. If the company is lookin forward to receiving your resume, you have won half the battle. Then, we highly recommend that you “get prepared” for the interview. Don’t wait! You might get a call for hastily scheduled interview (“can you come in for an interview tomorrow?”). Be ready for anything.

For advice on writing a solid commercial helicopter pilot job resume, click here.

How Do You Get The Interview?

How do you get an interview with a Tier 1 helicopter company? There seems to be some “magic” to it. The more you are invested into the process, and the more you know the prospective employer, the higher your chances are of setting up an interview. It’s weird, but the truth is that when you are prepared, you are more likely to be bold. The more bold you are, the more likely you will find unique opportunities that others miss.

To be successful in landing an interview with a helicopter company, you must first be willing to invest in yourself.  Be prepared for an interview by investing into the process, as if you already have the job (at least in your heart and mind).

For example, be thoroughly prepared to slam dunk the interview before it is even scheduled. For instance, be willing to go so far as to seek out people who have gone through the interview process with the company and actually landed a commercial helicopter pilot job with them. Know what to expect and be ready to successfully navigate the employers unique interview process.

The more you are invested, the better you will show up (but don’t be cocky). The employer will see your heart and your good intentions (the employer will see you as a potential loyal and committed employee… his or her impression of you will be positive, as you increase your chances of being the one they choose to hire, over all the rest).

Second, invest in yourself and your future. Remember, this will be your first aviation interview, but not your last. If you are a good pilot and career-minded, there will be many more interviews in your future as you advance your career – so be prepared to learn from the experience and become a “professional interviewer”. Those that show up the best in interviews tend to get the job, even if they have less qualifications and experience than other interviewees.

Finally, to become an experienced pilot whose career has advanced up the employment ladder, he/she has viewed the interview as being a part of the job. These pilots have taken the interview process seriously and have developed a positive attitude about it. They found a way to “like the chase” between the employer and the employee, and they got good at doing it. It’s almost like dating. To get the best “girl” or “guy”, you got to know how to play the dating game. If you hate/loath/fear the interview process, your career will be stifled. I recommend that you change your attitude now, and find a way to like/love the interview process.

How to invest in yourself in constant preparation for the next interview:
  • Do your homework on prospective employers and know everything about them.
  • Know yourself.
  • Know your personal mission – be able to articulate it.
  • Know your personal brand – know your values and career plan.
  • Know your weaknesses and how you plan to address them.
  • Find out what these employers are looking for in their pilots.
  • Let your mentors know your career path.
  • Continuously keep in contact with industry references (friends and colleagues) and previous employers.
  • Attend industry events and network with influencers.
  • Share your professional pathway and vision with people who like you and believe in you.
  • Visit the prospective employers (always schedule an appoinment).
  • Always be patient – never be pushy.
  • Be diplomatically persistent and always show continued interest.
  • Keep your one-page “aviation” resume updated with relevant info only – ready to send out at anytime.
  • Know your strengths and continue to work on them.
  • Keep educating yourself.
  • Take leadership and communication courses.
  • Take “people skills” courses.
  • Mentor others.
  • Have positive and professional Social Media accounts – employers will check you out.
  • Don’t be involved in negative posts in industry forums.
  • Don’t get arrested for domestic violence, drunk driving, or drug use.
Once I get an interview, how do I prepare?

Be prepared to demonstrate, answer, convey, and articulate the following (practice makes perfect):

  • Know everything about the company who is interviewing you.
  • Stand out from other candidates because you know the company intimately.
  • Know the company’s mission, vision, and culture.
  • Know their interview process.
  • Know what they are looking for in pilots through the interview.
  • Know the top people in the company and their experience.
  • Know what strengths you bring. Have a plan to work on your weaknesses.
  • In everything you do communicate how your personal brand message matches the company’s brand message.
  • Show how you are committed to “safety”.
  • Know the company values and be able to articulate how you will represent them.
  • Outline your best attributes (but do not brag).
  • Be ready to describe how you handle pressure or adversity.
  • Be ready to describe your experience working with the public.
  • Be ready to describe how you are a team player without bragging.
  • How are you willing to improve your communication and people skills?
  • How do you deal with any transition (i.e., be willing to relocate)?
  • Receive employer training with eagerness.
  • Arrive early.
  • Be ready to describe why the employer should hire you over others.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Be ready for the test flight and any other exam.
What is my Personal Brand?

Be prepared to demonstrate, answer, convey, and articulate the following (practice makes perfect):

  • Your values.
  • Your attributes.
  • Your attitude.
  • Qualities that make you trustworthy.
  • Qualities that make you memorable.
  • Your legacy – who did you train with and why that matters.
  • Your career goals.
  • Your career plan.
Sins of the Interview Process

Avoid the following:

  • Failing to do your homework on a company.
  • Not knowing the history of the company.
  • Not knowing the experience and credentials of the key players within the company.
  • Bragging.
  • Exaggerating your flight experience.
  • Certificates not signed.
  • Medical not updated or not signed.
  • Log book in disarray or inaccurate.
  • Failing to be prepped for the test.
  • Bashing present or former employers.
  • Dressed inappropriately.

In summary, if you follow these guidelines you will have a much better chance of success in landing your next job as you advance your career.

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The Robinson R-22 Helicopter

The Robinson R-22 is a small two-bladed, single-engine helicopter made by Robinson, and piloted with a floor mounted stick between the pilot’s knees. The first R22 was designed in 1973 by Frank Robinson, and was first put into production in 1979. As of 2015, more than 4,600 R-22’s have been manufactured, making it one of the more popular helicopter models.

The Robinson R22 is powered by a 160 bhp Lycoming 0-320-b2c engine. This lycoming engine is mounted horizontally and is aircooled. The R-22 is a popular helicopter model for training helicopter pilots at flight schools, and we use them at Upper Limit Aviation as well

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How Jodi Brommer Became a Commercial Helicopter Pilot

Meet Jodi Brommer, former Assistant Chief Flight Instructor at Upper Limit Aviation (ULA), who was recently hired to fly for PJ Helicopters, a helicopter company out of Red Bluff, California. Dream finally fulfilled, Jodi is now flying as a commercial helicopter pilot, and enjoying the fruits of her hard work, diligence, and perseverance.

Jodi had an impossible dream, a dream that she harbored for many years. Jodi, against all odds, took a leap of faith and followed her well-developed plan. Step-by-step, with great patience and a strong commitment, Jodi followed her plan until she achieved her dream. And she chose Upper Limit Aviation as the launching point to achieving her dream of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot.

For all the women out there that do not believe that they can achieve their dream to become a commercial helicopter pilot, Jodi has a message: “Women, who happen to be skilled pilots, are valued and highly sought after in the helicopter industry.”

It is true that the helicopter industry is currently dominated by men, but that is not necessarily by design. Helicopter employers are looking for skilled and competent pilots, period. In fact, it might even be a bonus if you are a woman with the right piloting skills.

Jodi Brommer gives much of the credit to her supportive family, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and Upper Limit Aviation for helping her to achieve her dream.

Jodi’s Remarkable Journey Started with a Decision

Jodi’s flight school adventure began in the summer of 2011, as she enrolled in ULA with the determination with which only a few can relate. Today, Jodi is more than an aviator. She is a leader among her peers, a professional woman, a valued employee, and one heck of a commercial helicopter pilot. But her journey was not always an easy one. Jodi met turbulence and headwinds with every step she took.

“I never knew that being a pilot was possible,” Jodi Brommer.

Despite growing up poor, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jodi did not believe that accomplishing her dream of being a commercial helicopter pilot was possible. However, with unstoppable drive, determination, and service to her country, Jodi’s dream is more than a reality today.

Since starting her flight training, Jodi has earned an Associate Degree in Professional Pilot and is working toward a Bachelors of General Studies. She is a dual rated pilot, having earned certificates in both helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.

My family was poor… my parents earned less than $20,000 a year and managed a seven-member household. I never even considered flying helicopters to be a possibility. Then, President Bush signed the 9/11 G.I. Bill, and in effect, I knew that it would help pay for my flight training. I realized that flying was something that I really wanted to do – so I made it happen through Post 9/11 GI Bill Educational Benefits.

Video Clips of Jodi as she progressed through Flight Training

Jodi’s parents have been supportive of her career choice from day one. Her parents were excited for Jodi, and ecstatic about her accomplishments. It is truly an exceptional accomplishment, and Jodi claims that without the VA educational benefits and ULA it would not have been possible. Jodi served five years in the Navy as a Combat Constructionman before attending flight school with ULA.

In addition to providing amazing aviation training, Jodi says that “Upper Limit Aviation is ‘the place’ if you’re looking for a home-away-from-home.ULA has been like a family since I got here; they treat me like a sister – they really do. It’s nice to have a place where you work that you feel happy to go to each morning, and that’s the key – to be happy when you go to work.

After earning her pilot’s certificates (Private, Instrument, Commercial, CFI, and CFII), Jodi was hired on by Upper Limit Aviation as a Certified Flight Instructor. While logging flight hours as a CFI, Jodi was promoted up the ULA ranks to Assistant Chief Flight Instructor before taking a job with PJ Helicopters. Jodi’s story is a remarkable one of vision, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. If you asked Jodi today, she would certainly say that it was all worth it.

Jodi was not the only woman pilot at ULA, and she certainly was not the exception. Over the years, dozens of women have chosen ULA as their flight school. Upper Limit Aviation is co-owned by a woman. The environment and culture at Upper Limit Aviation is perfect place for a women to achieve their best.

The Sky is not the Limit!

Jodi has advanced her career thanks the opportunities at ULA. “I had an industry job offer – my first industry job outside of ULA and I took it. I was really surprised that ULA was willing to let me go, to move on, considering how much I enjoyed working here. But they put my name in the hat because PJ Helicopters needed the flight skills that I had. There’re no words to describe the opportunity I have because of it”, stated Jodi.

Jodi now flies for PJ Helicopters, a utility helicopter company out of Red Bluff, California. The company conducts utility and powerline work, law enforcement support (Marijuana eradication), as well as forest firefighting. Jodi started out earning $65,000 per year.

The coolest thing about Upper Limit Aviation? Jodi says, “ULA is specifically designed to help pilots get good jobs after flight school. It’s either do the training right and get a job, or do it cheaply and do not get a job. It’s that simple. At ULA, they do it right! I am a Post 9/11 GI Bill benefactor, and because of my training I’m already a VA success!

Jodi’s message to any prospective student with her same dream is to consider flight training with ULA, “The quality of Flight Instructors and Mechanics in the Maintenance Department is exceptional. They personify professionalism. When it comes to safe flight instruction, maintenance is extremely important, and our mechanics ROCK!

It turns out the sky is not the limit, at least not for this girl. Jodi says, “If you’re hungry and you have a passion for flying, you need to do it when you can. Flight school needs to be there for you, and Upper Limit Aviation has been.

Lastly, Jodi recognizes that there are pilots out there that are struggling to find jobs, and its a shame. Getting a good paying Tier 1 job in the helicopter industry requires more than flight hours and turbine experience. A college degree is very helpful when competing for job openings. Additionally, attending a school that is “connected” with the helicopter industry is critical. Employers are recruiting ULA pilots because they are the best. ULA pilots come with a good reputation and are trusted to do a good job.

Jodi Brommer’s Certificates and Flight Hours

  • Private Pilot Helicopter
  • Private Pilot Fixed Wing
  • Instrument Helicopter
  • Instrument Fixed Wing
  • Commercial Helicopter
  • Commercial Fixed Wing
  • Certified Flight Instructor Helicopter
  • Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Helicopter
  • Jodi has accumulated 1,200 helicopter hours and 150 fixed wing hours

Here are a few Related Articles for Student Pilots:

Top 6 Tips for Student Pilots Attempting to Land Their First Aviation Job

Tier 1 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

Six Student Pilots Mistakes That Can Ruin an Aviation Career

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Robinson R-44

The Robinson R-44 is two-bladed, 4 seat light helicopter made by Robinson Helicopter Company, based off their R-22 design. The R44 was designed in 1980s by Frank Robinson, and had its first flight in March 1990. After further testing, the first production model of the R-44 was delivered on February 1993. The R44 is powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6 cylinder flat engine with fuel injection rated at 245 bhp.

Over 5600 R-44 helicopters have been produced, and it has become a popular choice for helicopter flight schools. The R-44 is used for the majority of rotorcraft training at Upper Limit Aviation.

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The EC145 Helicopter

The EC145 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter made by Airbus Helicopters. It was first flown in June of 1999, and has been in production since 2002. This helicopter can carry up to nine passengers and 2 crew members. This helicopter is used for such tasks as corporate transport, passenger transport, emergency medical services, search and rescue, para-public and utility roles and much more. This helicopter also has a larger cabin space than the older BK 117. Internal space was increased by 46cm (18in) in lenth and 13 cm (5 in) in width increasing the cabin volume by 1 meter to 6 meters.

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Bell 206 Helicopter

The Bell 206 is a two bladed, single engine helicopter by Bell Helicopters. Some 206’s come Equipped with 2 Engines also known as TwinRangers. The Basic Shape and design of the bell Has remained virtually unchanged since 1967. Some variants included a modified tail rotor and more powerful engine. The Bell 206 is most commonly powered by an Allison 250-C18 turboshaft engine making 650 hp.

Whether for corporate transportation, emergency medical services, offshore oil and gas rig support, law enforcement or firefighting, the 206 has what it takes to accomplish the mission. The 206 high-inertia two-bladed rotor system and patented suspension system delivers an incredibly smooth ride. The 206 can hold up to seven passengers very comfortably, and the club-passenger seating allows for face-to-face conversations.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (801) 596-7722.

A Look Inside a Helicopter CFI Checkride

Your initial CFI Practical exam is widely recognized as not only the most difficult of all checkrides; but also the most important. “Checkride” is a term those in the industry use when talking about the FAA Practical Exam. Passing the CFI Checkride, or CFI Practical Exam, is the moment where you are finally going to set yourself apart from a ‘student’ role, to a marketable role as a Flight Instructor. This important milestone is what will allow you to start your career. It is well known that here, in the U.S., your first job as a professional helicopter pilot will most likely be as a flight instructor. First, we will discuss what it takes to become a Helicopter Instructor Pilot; then we are going to go inside a CFI Practical Exam.

Where to start, and what it takes to get there

Anyone who has never flown before will start out as a Student Pilot working towards becoming a Private Pilot Certificate holder. You will need to find a Flight School to begin your training. There are several options out there, and choosing the right one for you is a discussion for another time. Once you complete your Private Pilot Training and you are ready, you will take a Private Pilot Practical Exam. Practical Exams are the same in regards to how the exam is conducted.

You sit down with either an FAA Examiner or a Designated Pilot Examiner also known as a DPE. The day starts with an in person oral quiz known as the ground portion of your checkride. After hours, yes hours, of answering questions; you will either be approved to progress to the flight portion of the exam or hear the dreadful words that you did not pass the ground portion of the exam. If all goes well in the ground portion, you will then move on to the preflight and flight portion of the checkride. This is often times referred to as the ‘easy part’ of the Practical Exam. The only people who say this, are the ones who feel confident in their piloting skills. Make no mistake about it, you can and many people do fail their checkride in the air. This is perhaps why it is so important that you wisely choose who you go to for your flight training.  For another viewpoint regarding the CFI Checkride click here.

Great! You’re now a Private Pilot…..what’s next?

Once you become a Private Pilot Certificate holder, your flight training can go one of three ways. One, you can stop training and remain a Private Pilot. Several people in the General Aviation sector take this route. These are likely the people who are fortunate enough to own their own aircraft and all they want is to be able to legally fly. They have no ambitions of flying for a living and are content simply being a ‘pilot’. However, most of us are doing this because this is what we want to do for a living. This brings us to the other two options in our flight training career. The most common step is to begin your instrument training.

This is where things get ‘serious’. In order to be a Private Pilot Certificate holder with an Instrument Rating, you are going to dedicate yourself to in depth ground training, simulator training and flight training with a view limiting device. At this point in your flight training, you are going to learn how to safely fly the aircraft with no outside references by solely relying on your instruments inside the cockpit. This stage of training is what I like to call, the make or break stage. If you complete this invaluable training, you can walk proud because everyone in aviation will know that you are serious about becoming a career pilot.

What’s the third option?

As a Helicopter Pilot, the other option would be to start training for your Commercial Pilot Certificate immediately after obtaining your Private Pilot Certificate. This option is only available to Helicopter Pilots and many schools do not allow this course of training to be taken. I think it is important to gain the skills needed for an Instrument Rating before you begin training as a Commercial Pilot. In fact, this makes so much sense that those on the fixed wing side are required to receive their Instrument Rating prior to obtaining their Commercial Pilot Certificate. Regardless of your path, you need to do both before you are ready to become a Flight Instructor. You can become a Flight Instructor without being Instrument Rated; but I stand behind my statement that both are needed before you are “ready” to be a CFI. Both the Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot Certificate will require ground training and flight training. They both also require a separate FAA Practical Exam or ‘checkride’ in order to be granted the certificate or rating. Again, the Practical Exams are conducted in the same manner; pass a lengthy oral exam and then prove your skills in the air.

You are now an Instrument Rated Commercial Pilot. Ready for your first job? Not so fast. Here’s why…

Once you become a Private Pilot, get your Instrument Rating and then knock out the flight training requirements to become a Commercial Pilot; your next step is likely to begin training to become a Certified Flight Instructor. According to the regulations, as a Commercial Pilot you can now be paid to carry persons or property. But let’s face it, at this stage of your flight career, you simply do not have the hours needed to be marketable for a job. This is why the next stage of your training is the most important. It is now time to begin training as an Instructor Pilot. You will begin learning how to fly from the Instructors seat and start transitioning from student, to teacher. You will learn Fundamentals of Instruction and begin writing detailed lesson plans in order to be prepared to teach someone who has never flown all the way up to a Commercial Pilot level. Once you complete your flight instructor training; you will be ready for your CFI Checkride and Practical.

What makes a CFI Practical so different from the rest?

My CFI checkride was in Colorado with an Examiner that is known to be one of the toughest. The practical started with me teaching the Fundamentals of Instruction. We then moved forward into certificates and endorsements. We spent nearly three hours as I was given scenario after scenario demonstrating I knew what I could and couldn’t do as a Flight Instructor. I was then given a list of items to instruct on. In addition to the requirements of the Practical Test Standards (PTS), I taught lessons on Airworthiness, Risk Management, Commercial Pilot Privileges & Limitations, Auto-Rotations, Translational Lift and Special Awareness Training required for Robinson Helicopters. We finished the ground portion at 6;30 that evening…yes, 11.5 hours of ground. I had a 30 minute break for lunch that I used to prepare my next lesson. Day two started again at 7am. We did a thorough preflight and then flew a 1.8hr flight. In total, my CFI Checkride took 18.5hrs over the course of two days. Due to the training, preparation and mentorship I received from Upper Limit Aviation; I am now a Certified Flight Instructor, ready to begin my career.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (801) 596-7722.

Finding Helicopter Tour Pilot Jobs

Some events in your life can leave lasting impressions, impressions that influence decisions that will change your life.  One such event happened at a rodeo sideshow for Thomas John whom at the time was no older than 17.

“The announcer says there’s a big surprise everyone look up, and it was nighttime so you couldn’t see it but you could hear this roar coming in and immediately we knew it was a helicopter. I got excited because I had never seen one up close and personal like that.  He came screaming over the stadium at probably full speed, right over the top of the stadium and was just thundering loud, everybody was excited.  Seeing the lights arcing up in the air and circling around and coming back down into the spot and dust blowing everywhere there was nothing else that had ever made me that excited, I was thrilled,” said John.

The Army Apache ignited a spark inside Thomas that night. It was a spark that would only grow into a desire to take on one of the nation’s most exciting careers. The training for the helicopter pilot program was expensive but John began his search to fund the training.

“I had always been fascinated with the military so I decided that I would join so that I can use the G.I. bill benefits to pay for my school. Literally a couple weeks before I was supposed to sign up, my mother being a veteran of the military found out she could pass on her unused Gi Bill® to her children.” John immediately sought out a reputable school that would accept the Gi Bill® and found Upper Limit Aviation that was only four hours away.

“I drove to Upper Limit, checked out the facility and talked to them and it was just amazing.  I was excited; the welcoming by Upper Limit let me know this is where I needed to be.  By October 2010 I was enrolled and ready to go, January 10th, on my birthday was my first flight and first day at the school, it was an awesome day and I was thrilled.”

The atmosphere at Upper Limit was extremely inviting for John, it only re-assured him of his desire to be a part of the aviation industry.  The idea of flying a helicopter was powerful for John but it did not come close to the first time he sat inside the cockpit suspended over the horizon in a quarter of a million dollar machine.

“When the only seats you’ve ever sat in has never left ground and all of a sudden you’re just hovering in the air a few feet off the ground it is just exhilarating,” he says.   “Right away once we were flying in the air the instructor gave me a brief on the controls and let me try them out.  I took the pedals and I wagged the tail then he gave me the collective and let me raise and lower the helicopter and then he gave me the cyclic,” says John. ” Within a few hours you’re easily able to fly straight level, to make turns and all of that stuff.”

One aspect he liked was how nice and helpful all of the instructors were.

“I got to know all of the instructors and they were all great guys and all a lot of fun, if you had a question you could walk up to any instructor and they were more than happy to talk to you.  You do have a primary but there’s no set rule that’s what’s great about Upper Limit Aviation if you have a question or your instructor is out of town you still have the chance to go do any of your flights or any of the ground that you need to do, you have plenty of other instructors to go to for that.”

Learning to fly a helicopter was challenging for Tom John but nothing he was not ready to face head on.  The support of his instructor made him feel safe enough to step outside of his comfort zone.

“Coming to our airport where we trained and having my first opportunity hovering was the most difficult but exciting thing that I’ve ever done and I know I could do it because the first day doing it you could see a little bit of progress.  It was very cool to have the instructor there who was like a wizard, I would lose complete control of the aircraft and in a blink of an eye he would have it right back over the spot and say all right man, try it again.”

It did not take John long to make his way through the entire program.  In the matter of a year and a half he had his Private, Commercial, Instrument, and Instructor certifications.  Before he knew it he was teaching students from the same seat that just a year prior his instructor was teaching him. “I try my best to be as high-quality as I can, I feel that I’m appreciated and I do all I can to teach my students what they need to know to make it through the program. I have sent more than 10 students for their check-ride (exam) and they have all passed.”

John tries to be encouraging and inviting when asked about what he does for his career.  He takes every opportunity to share information with people who might like to get in the aviation industry.

“I’ve always felt like I didn’t want to be the guy who is like I’m just a pilot because that’s just not the greatest way of starting a conversation. When somebody does asks you what you do and you say I’m helicopter flight instructor it is an eyebrow raiser, they’re very interested and excited,” says John. “The big thing is my family, there thrilled, they couldn’t be happier.  They see the pictures they have seen me fly and it’s amazing to feel that I’m making them proud and I’m going to continue to try to do that.”

22 Year Old Finding Helicopter Tour Pilot Jobs

After talking with people he has even had people come by to take him up on the intro flight that the school offers after talking to him about what it’s like to be a helicopter pilot.

“I’ve had a few people come out and take the intro flight just after talking to them randomly in a store. I got to take them up on a flight and immediately they loved it, after flying for a few moments they are actually able to take the controls and see what it’s like to fly for themselves.”

Upper Limit has given John a chance to build enough hours to move on to his next step in the Helicopter Community. At only 22-years-old he will be a 135-tour pilot for the Tier One tour company Maverick Helicopters. After his daily pilot meeting he will step into his office ‘flying over the Grand Canyon’ where he will provide a unique view, with people from around the world.

“The accomplishment of knowing you have what it takes to be a rated pilot, nothing beats that. It’s hard work, everyone thinks it’s just flying but there is a lot of studying to it but if you want to do it and you’re committed it is a great opportunity and Upper Limit is the way to go.”

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (801) 596-7722.

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