How to Become a Helicopter Pilot

Learning to Fly Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Wondering how to become a helicopter pilot? The first steps to getting into a cockpit are clearly defined, and most people qualify to start training immediately. Here are the details you need to know.

You’re watching the quintessential over-the-top car chase scene and the star is making a getaway so fast the police can’t catch him. No back street short cut combination will put the cops at a great enough advantage to cut the hero off. Then the helicopters enter the high-speed chase. There’s no more hiding for the poor car. Air power is simply better. You think to yourself, “That would be a cool job. How do I get a job like that?” The answer: start flying helicopters. Get some experience. Then apply for the job.

Anyone can buy a discovery flight in a helicopter. A discovery flight is essentially an introduction lesson for you. Much like an introduction to martial arts class or an introduction to painting, you can buy an introduction lesson to flying. The lesson normally lasts about two hours. In that time you would get a basic introduction to the parts of a helicopter and how they work. You also get to fly with an instructor for about half an hour. The discovery flight is normally a short flight just around the airport. If you are savvy enough to point the way and you don’t live very far away from the airport, you could even ask the instructor to fly over your house.

You’ll need to find a school that teaches flying in order to buy a discovery flight in a helicopter. These schools aren’t usually the local high school or recreation center. A school that teaches flying can be found at your local airport. You are likely familiar with the international airport near you; these are the airports where airlines operate. In some cases international airports are too busy for learning to fly, but many flight schools do operate from these airports. Flight training also happens at local airports, which are likely closer to you. An online search for airports near your city will reveal the small local airports in your area. You can also use this (av-info.faa.gov/PilotSchool.asp) search engine on the Federal Aviation Administration website to find the address of flight schools in your state.

Once you find the flight school nearest you, simply walk in for a visit. Be sure to visit the flight school before buying the discovery flight. You’ll want to see the aircraft and meet at least one instructor. Though appointments aren’t typically required, you may want to call and make an appointment with the school. This will ensure you don’t have to wait around to talk to someone once you get there. In addition, it helps the school be prepared for your visit.

If you like what you see, ask to schedule a discovery flight. The cost should be anywhere from one hundred to two hundred dollars if the school has smaller aircraft. You’ll be charged for the aircraft hourly operating expenses as well as the flight instructor hourly fee. The aircraft cost can be negotiable if you are willing to reduce the time you spend in the air. Consider paying for half an hour instead of an hour in the air if you are strapped for cash. The instructor hourly rate is likely not negotiable. You’ll be charged for the amount of time you spend with the instructor whether on the ground or in the air. Be prepared to pay the bill for the discovery flight prior to takeoff or immediately upon returning to the airport from your flight.

If the flight is enjoyable, you may want to consider scheduling your first lesson immediately. You’ll be required to verify your citizenship prior to starting training with two forms of identification. Generally, you’ll need your instructor to teach you for twenty or so hours before you are ready to go it alone. Before your instructor gives you permission to fly alone in the helicopter, he’ll check your abilities to ensure you can fly a helicopter alone safely.

All pilots must also complete a medical evaluation. Before you can fly by yourself you’ll need to visit an aeromedical doctor to get a certificate stating you are healthy enough to fly. The doctor will check your vision to be sure you can differentiate between a red and green light and have 20/40 vision or better, with glasses if you need them. The doctor will speak to you from across the room at a conversational volume to find out if you can hear well enough to fly. You’ll also need to provide a urine sample for basic testing. Neurologic, mental, diabetic, and cardiovascular conditions may require a more extensive review by your doctor.

As you can see, the first steps for getting into the cockpit are pretty simple. Most people qualify to start training immediately. Find a school near you and schedule a visit and a discovery flight. If you like it, sign up for training. And don’t worry too much: a pilot medical evaluation for a pilot in training is far from intimidating.

So, now that you know the first steps on how to become a helicopter pilot, what are you waiting for? Get started today!

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You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Ice Bike Mountain Top Riding on a Frozen Lake

Filmed in the winter of 2015 near Mt. Mason, British Columbia, Canada, Bill Hitchon riding his monster ice bike, Suzuki Boulevard on top of a frozen mountain lake at 5000 feet above sea level. It is crazy to think that Bill Hitchon is probably the only man or earth to race on this lake. Bill is a former ice racer who owns his own custom motorcycle shop in Richmond, BC. He built this bike for a movie called “Dead Rising, Watchtower” that filmed in Vancouver. http://5thgearbeta.com

The bike took 880 hex head screws in the back tire to be able to ride on the ice and about 250 screws in the front tire. The bike has an ATV tire on the rear and a KTM front end, which lightened it by about 250 lbs, making slinging it to the mountain possible.

Bill and Bill, pilot and racer, took their collective skills and pulled off one of the most amazing sports events ever filmed.

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A Growing Number of Professional Pilot Jobs

Many frequent visitors to Upper Limit Aviation‘s website already know that now is a tremendous time to be a professional pilot. The amount of professional pilot jobs available today has increased substantially, outnumbering any previous time in commercial aviation history. The ongoing hiring boom shows no signs of slowing down, with even greater access to opportunities looking increasingly likely as industry plans for the next year are announced. The aviation industry is in the midst of a tidal wave of transformation, as the industry finds new and exciting ways to utilize the services of pilots and aircraft.

The Expanding Array of Today’s Professional Pilot Jobs

There are many potential career paths for tomorrow’s professional pilots within the modern aviation economy. Whether you are a helicopter pilot or a fixed-wing/airplane pilot, you will find that there is an increased reliance upon quick, effective transport solutions to meet the demands of the increasingly diversified infrastructure of many domestic and global companies. Professional helicopter pilots may find themselves working in oil and gas support in the Gulf of Mexico region. In the same industry, professional airplane pilots can envision themselves working in the field of pipeline inspection.
The reason we’re taking this moment to point out the breadth of opportunities available to today’s professional pilots is because we want to let potential students know that they have an important decision to make. Many of these prospective pilots do not even know that there is a life altering opportunity available to them. So if you have found yourself here out of curiosity, take a short amount of time to browse through some of the information we have on this site about the opportunities available to professional pilots, and know that we are doing everything we can to help prepare our students to meet the demands of the most significant moment in aviation history.
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Super Cub Landing on Windy Mt Top

The Super Cub is a two seat single engine fixed wing aircraft and it has one main set of wing surfaces. As far back as the early 1950’s and Piper Aircraft introduced the Super Cub in a big way. It originated from the design of the Piper PA-11 and can actually find design similarities to the J-3, which was built first in 1937.

Cub Landing of a Single Engine Super Cub on Top of a Snowy Mountain Top

Although it was clearly rooted in the earlier Cub designs, the are many improvements and design changes that make the Super Cub truly super. For example, the engine is much more powerful than previous entries in the cub series.

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Pilot Shortage: What Should the Aviation Industry Do?

With a thirty-five percent increase in global travelers, there are more than half a million aviation positions currently available for qualified pilots. The aviation industry is working hard to meet that demand, but experts are saying there may be a serious pilot shortage. Both fixed wing and helicopter pilots are required and, in addition, many pilots just completing their required flight times are now being hired before they can even apply for a position.

In recent years, a large majority of qualified helicopter pilots were ex-military or war pilots. These elder statesmen pilots who are now retiring from the industry and leaving many helicopter and fixed wing companies with questions and concerns as to how these open positions are going to be filled by the next generation of pilots, and how they’ll deal with a potential pilot shortage.

Another source of the world pilot shortage is that many of the airlines around the world have been increasing the amount of planes in their fleets. In Asia alone, Airbus has tripled the size of its shipments to meet the expected growth. Many of these airlines now face the hurdle of where to attain the funding to train pilots to keeps these planes safe and in the air.

Where Are the New Pilots Going to Come From?

Many large commercial airlines are looking to foreign nations to employ pilots to fill the empty aviation positions due to the significant increase in airline utilization.  Aviation industry salaries start at $60,000 for helicopter pilots as reported for 2014. Commercial pilots are starting year average salary range from $65,000 to $120,000 with the potential to $200,000 for those pilot’s who have accumulated over 1000 flight hours. It is rare for a five-year experienced pilot to expect less than $100,000 per year.

Where will the new pilots come from and how will they get the financial support for schooling? Historically, funding for fixed wing, private and airline pilot training has been financially prohibitive for many men and women due to limited monies available, or being required to take huge personal loans to cover the cost of training. But subsequently, the aviation industry and private lenders have made funds more available to those pursing a career in the aviation or air travel industry, which may lead to more pilots and help solve the issue of the pilot shortage.

Airline Pilots Get ALL the Peanuts They Can Eat!

The job perks for helicopter and fixed-wing pilots are nearly endless. While it is true that the responsibilities that pilot’s carry are quite staggering in terms of human life if one sits and thinks deeply about it, these duties become second nature with experience (flight hours). It can become easier to hold the safety and well to be of other individuals when you’re own well-being is on the line as well.

One of the most popular and well known of pilot benefits has been money.  Traditionally, the earning potential has been equivalent to that of a doctor (general practitioner) or a government lawyer, with much less time (in years) spent in school and as flight hours accumulate, pilots can surpass these status career’s salaries as well.  But many people say that is no longer the case, and pilot salaries have been in a continual slide. With this in mind, will the perks and current salaries be able to attract enough new pilots to stem the pilot shortage?

For more, here is an interesting short interview segment with aviation education book author Rod Machado:

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Different Pilot Licenses Explained: Sport, Recreational and Private Pilot

In the fixed wing airplane world, pilots often refer to their pilot’s license as a “certificate”. Essentially, both terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable (although, technically, they are slightly different). For the purposes of this article, we intend “certificate” and “license” to represent the same “pilot status”. According to AOPA, the most accurate description of the certificate is a “license to learn”. Below, learn more about the different pilot licences and levels of pilot certificate.

The Three Pilot’s Certificates Explained

Student Pilot Certificate (License to Learn): All pilots registered with the FAA begin their journey as “Student Pilots”. The Student Pilot Certificate allows you to train with an FAA Certified Flight Instructor. Your first step is to learn the basics and fundamentals that will prepare you for your first “solo flight”.

There are several very important steps after your solo flight (advanced training) where a student decides to earn a Private Pilot’s certificate, Recreational certificate, or Sport Pilot certificate.

Each certificate has different requirements and differing pathways. The similarities of these certificates are – pilots are allowed to legally fly under certain conditions, and fly with one or more passengers for fun (no pay).

Private Pilot Certificate: The most popular certificate is the traditional “Private Pilot Certificate”. The Private Pilot is the pathway most student pilots take as they invest time, energy, and money into the process of learning to fly. This license requires 40 hours of flight training.

The Private Pilot licenses is the least restrictive of the three certificates.

The Private Pilot license is the pathway to advanced pilot certificates. Meaning, pilots with a Private Pilot license and are career-minded, can pursue the advanced certificates (Instrument, Commercial, and Certified Flight Instructor Certificates) and get paid to fly.

Getting Your Pilots License and Your First Intro Flight

Instrument and Commercial pilot’s licenses allow pilots to fly at night, fly in bad weather (fly by instrument), and fly multi-engine aircraft. Equally important, pilots with Private Pilot’s license, after advanced flight training, can become a commercial pilot and fly for a living. Private Pilot license holders can then earn a Certified Flight Instructor certificate (CFI), and even a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument certificate (CFII).

The top status of all pilot licenses is the Airline Transport Pilot certificate (ATP). Pilots who want to fly for the airlines, become corporate pilots, or fly charter jets are required to have the ATP certificate. Typically, pilots need 1,500 hours of logged flight time, an ATP certificate, and a college degree.

Recreational Pilot Certificate: The Recreation Pilot Certificate is a limited restricted version of the Private Pilot’s license, and considered to be a step below. Requires a minimum of 30 hours of flight training. The aircraft a Recreational Pilot flies is limited to 180 horsepower, and can only fly at a maximum altitude of 2000 AGL. The Recreational Pilot requires a 3rd class medical.

Recreational pilots typically fly from their “home airport”, fly during the day, and with only one additional passenger.

The good news is that a Recreational Pilot Certificate costs less and takes less time. And, a pilot with a Recreational Pilot’s license can continue training (gaining experience and flight hours) and eventually earn their Private Pilot’s license.

Sport Pilot’s Certificate: This version of a pilot’s license is relatively new (2004). It was created for people who desire to fly one or two seater aircraft that are smaller, lighter, and easier to fly. The main difference between Sport Pilot and Recreational Pilot cerftificates is the type of aircraft you are able to fly. The Sport Pilot is limited to planes with lower take off weight (smaller, lighter aircraft) with no more than two seats. Sport pilots require a minimum of 20 hours of flight training.

Additionally, pilot’s seeking Sport Pilot Certificates are not required to obtain a medical certificate (which is a big deal), but must have a valid drivers license. The Sport Pilot license is a limited and more restrictive pilot’s certificate than that of Private or Recreational. The Sports Pilot certificate prohibits pilots from flying aircraft that are more than 1,3200 lbs at takeoff and landing and 1,430 lbs at takeoff from the water.

However, with advanced training, Sport Pilot certificate holders can take additional flight training, pass an FAA Medical Exam, and earn a Recreational or Private Pilot’s license.

There are some conditions the different pilot licenses all require:
All Pilot’s License Holders Must Be or Have:
  • At least 17 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write and understand English
  • Receive logbook endorsements from authorized instructor who verifies aeronautical knowledge and preparedness for the FAA knowledge test
  • Pass the required FAA knowledge test
  • Receive flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who conducted the required training.
  • Pass the required practical test on the areas of operation that apply
  • Comply with the appropriate sections that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought
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The Five Best Things About Being a Student Pilot Going to College

What Can You Expect as a Student Pilot?

Deciding to begin a career as a Professional Student Pilot can be one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging decisions you’ll ever make. Can you imagine, as a college student, getting to fly helicopters or airplanes on a daily basis as a part of your college experience?

Medical school students don’t get to start seeing patients for at least 4 years.  Law school students don’t get to represent clients for years after college. The same thing can be said about engineering students; they don’t get to build awesome stuff until years after graduating. Heck, education students (future teachers) don’t get to teach in the classroom for years.  But what about student pilots?  They can start flying weeks after starting their freshmen (first) semester. That is awesome! Helicopter flying over a city - Student Pilot

Medical students, law students, and engineering students have to go to school for 6 to 10 years before they start their career. Student pilots, potentially, can start flying “commercially” (paid) within 18 months of starting their training. When comparing an aviation career with any other professional career the benefits just keep stacking up.

The 5 Best Things About Being a Student Pilot and Pursuing an Aviation Career

#5 Global demand.  New Experiences:  Being a commercial pilot means you could be flying just about anywhere, at any time.  Potentially, you could fly all over the world. You will fly to some very interesting places.  With the global demand high for both helicopter and fixed wing pilots, you can virtually get a job anywhere on the planet. Helicopter pilots can take off and land just about anywhere, and typically you find heli tours in the most beautiful places on earth.  Airplane pilots can fly and land at airports in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Sidney, and even backcountry airstrips or (With the right equipment) on shorelines.

#4. Live a Life of Adventure: Flying helicopters or airplanes is not necessarily something that comes naturally.  We were not built to fly (if we were, God would have given us wings).  Flying aircraft is extremely adventurous.  You will going places and doing things most people never do.  Helicopter pilots take people up on mountains to heli-ski.  They transport folks to oil platforms in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, transport trauma victims to major hospitals, and they might even help locate a criminal and bring them to justice.  Some very lucky pilots get to fly the President of the United States to and from the White House.

#3. Gain Respect:  Professional people garner respect.  Doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, and professional athletes typically enjoy respect from many aspects of the general society. The same can be said of pilots.  With your commercial pilot ratings, you will be one of a the chosen few that has gained the skills and earned the right to fly commercially.  This means you have risen to a place of respect in society.  People are generally impressed by the fact that you are a pilot. Most people understand what it takes to become a pilot and therefore, they know that you are something special and unique. Pilots receive tremendous respect from their family, friends, and the community.

#2. Personal Growth:  As a pilot you will be tested.  You will be challenged.  You cannot make excuses – people must have unshakeable confidence in you.  You will have to dig deep and find out who you are.  The best aspects of you will get better, and the areas you need to work on will become evident – and you will improve and conquer the areas of your life that most people never deal with.  The question is… do you have what it takes?  If you do, you will grow “personally” more than you could ever imagine.  The responsibility of flying helicopters or airplanes is tremendous.  In order to be “trusted” you will have to become the best version of yourself in all ways.  Get ready to grow to heights you never knew were possible.

#1. Rewarding Career:  There is no doubt about it.  Good pilots make great money.  It may take time and a great deal of sacrifice to become a commercial pilot, but remember, helicopter and airplane pilots make an extremely good income.  A pilot does not have the typical 9 to 5 job.  As an aviator, your office view could be at 35,000 feet.  As a helicopter pilot, you might be “spotting Tuna” at sea as you fly for a commercial fishing company. Or, you might be covering live major news events as they happen.  This list of “rewards” for commercial pilots goes on and on.

Coming to the Right Conclusion about Aviation and Pilots

First, please get the picture of being “Maverick” from Top Gun out of your mind. You will not be spending all your time between flights cruising the beach on your motorcycle, grabbing the Hot Girls (or Guys), drinking beer and playing volleyball all day in the sun. If you’re serious about becoming a Professional Aviator, you are going to have to be dedicated and be ready to make serious personal sacrifices.

You will have to commit yourself to studying; probably more than you ever have in your entire life. Learning how to fly and everything that is involved with flying requires a tremendous amount of hard work and focus. If a Flight School advertises a life of “Fun in the Sun” with a helicopter parked on a yacht in the middle of a lake surrounded by girls in bikini’s…  we recommend that you think seriously about the level of training they are actually going to provide. Remember, this is a serious profession and only those who take it seriously will be successful.

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 (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Two Devoted Pilots Perish in Accident

CEDAR CITY, Utah — A Cessna 152 operated by two pilots from Southern Utah University were involved in a fatal accident at approximately 1 p.m. today six miles west of Cedar City, Utah.

The Iron County Sheriff’s department was notified of the accident, and began their investigation.

Provost, Brad Cook said, “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones. A tragedy of this nature penetrates all of us deeply.”

Southern Utah University has been operating in partnership with Upper Limit Aviation since fall of 2013. Everyone at Southern Utah University and Upper Limit Aviation are deeply saddened by the unfortunate events that have taken place. The National Transportation Safety Board and that FAA are investigating the accident.

ULA Goes Before Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs

Testimony of Michael Mower, Chief Operating Officer of Upper Limit Aviation before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for the Hearing on Pending and Draft Legislation – September 16, 2015

Chairman Isakson, Ranking Member Blumenthal, and Distinguished Members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit a written statement on the draft legislation related to VA education benefits for flight training that is the subject of this legislative hearing today.

Put simply, the draft bill before you today will slash veteran benefits for degree programs that include flight training at public colleges and universities.

This bill, as currently written, would cap the tuition for flight training at a number that is significantly below the actual cost to provide the training.

Although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) consistently lists aviation as a high demand career, this proposal would essentially serve as a financial impediment for veterans seeking a career in the aviation industry while the U.S. faces of one of the worst pilot shortages in history.

The intent of this bill is to prevent schools from taking advantage of GI Bill reimbursements. However, it is ill-conceived and duplicative, since valid and effective rules and regulations already exist that curtail potential abusesby schools seeking to take advantage of student veterans and the taxpayers.

In the end, this legislation will destroy well-planned degree programs at public institutions of higher learning across the country that offer flight training to deserving veterans and will eliminate aviation careers for veterans in an industry that is in desperate need of well-trained pilots.

Pilot Shortages

Demand for pilots will increase at a rapid pace over the next several decades, as the United States is currently facing its worst pilot shortage since the 1960’s. [1]

As global economies expand and tens of thousands of new aircraft come online, the aviation industry will need to supply more than 500,000 new pilots by 2033. [2]

Nevertheless, total pilots holding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates fell at a CAGR of 0.36% from 2004-2013 (see chart, “FAA Estimated Total Pilots”) [3]

In 1989, a total of 110,541 FAA flight tests were conducted in the United States, compared to only 42,440 FAA flight tests in 2014. [4]

Adding to the pilot shortage will be the aging U.S. pilot population, as pilots over the age of 50 years old currently hold approximately 42% of FAA pilot certificates (see chart, “FAA Certificates by Age”) [5]

Moreover, a study conducted by a subgroup of collegiate aviation researchers, including professors from Embry Riddle and 5 other universities [6], explains that a sharp increase is occurring in the training of foreign pilots in the United States.

Using data provided by the FAA’s certification branch, the study determined that in 2004 the ratio of U.S. citizens to foreign citizens training in the United States for their commercial pilot certificate was 4.80 to 1.00. In 2012, that ratio had dramatically declined to 1.19 U.S. pilots trained to every one foreign pilot trained (see chart, “US and Foreign Citizens Completing the Commercial Written”).

This fact is staggering because many of these foreign pilots will take jobs outside of the U.S., further intensifying the current pilot shortage.

The 85-15 and Two-Year Rules

The “85-15” and “Two-Year” Rules are valid exercises of Congress’ power intended to curtail abuses by schools seeking to capitalize on veterans and American taxpayers.

While the Two-Year Rule bars VA education dollars from going to institutions that have been open for less than two years, the 85-15 Rule prohibits VA education dollars from going to schools unless at least 15% of enrolled students are not using GI Bill funds to pay for the cost of their education at the school.

These rules have been in place for decades, and when enforced correctly and consistently by the VA, the rules effectively allow the open market to determine worthwhile and valuable programs – and program prices – for veterans.

This bill, which seeks to artificially and arbitrarily legislate a cap on flight training, is unnecessary and flies in the face of the longstanding and legitimate purposes of the 85-15 and Two-Year Rules.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Report

The sponsors of this legislation in the House of Representatives believed that imposing a cap on flight training education for veterans would generate sufficient savings to pay for other favored legislative initiatives. However, based on CBO’s subsequent score of the overall bill, those assumptions were grossly inaccurate and the assumed savings from rolling back this benefit fell short by nearly $150 million.

The same CBO cost estimate for the bill also recognized that aviation training necessarily has a high cost of delivery, stemming from the costs of aircraft, fuel, insurance, and rigorous FAA-imposed safety standards.

CBO itself determined that reasonable flight training costs averaged out to around $62,000 per year, per student. But the cap proposed by this draft is nearly one-third of the real cost for student veterans to receive this type of advanced professional aviation training.

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, this bill as currently proposed will not only eliminate benefits and aviation career opportunities that were earned through honorable service by veterans, but it will also exacerbate one of the worst pilot shortages in the history of the United States.

The bill is also duplicative and unnecessary, as the 85-15 and Two-Year rules are already valid and effective tools for reigning in abusers within program of education.

There is simply no need for additional legislative action on this topic. The VA merely needs to consistently enforce the long-standing and valid statutes and regulations currently in place that already effectively deal with the issues and concerns that have been raised.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share our views with the Committee.

[1] Wall Street Journal

[2] Boeing Study

[3] FAA Airmen Certificate Statistics

[4] FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) Program Under Watch

[5] FAA Airmen Certificate Statistics

[6] An Investigation of the United States Airline Pilot Labor Supply

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Upper Limit Aviation Student and Instructor Report Fire

Upper Limit Aviation Flight Instructor, John Jackson was conducting a helicopter training flight mission yesterday morning with Upper Limit Aviation student, Albert Wood, when they spotted a fire on Pine Valley Mountain. Mr. Jackson called the fire into the flight service station around 10:30 AM. Jackson and Wood were flying a routine training flight between Cedar City and St George when they spotted the fire.

For the past three years ULA has assisted in dozens of search and rescue missions on behalf of Iron County Sheriff Search and Rescue, and assisted other law enforcement agencies in Southern Utah when called upon.

Last year thirteen Upper Limit Aviation pilots were sworn in as official “special deputies” with the Iron County Sheriff’s Department. As special deputies, the ULA pilots can land and pick up accident victims in support of search and rescue missions for the county.

Oak Grove wildfire near Pine Valley Mountain Forces Evacuations

Washington County, Utah – Fire spotted in the Dixie National Forest near the Oak Grove campground on Tuesday. Fire managers were alerted to the Oak Grove Fire, located about 13 miles north of St. George, after 11 a.m. The blaze is estimated to be around 100 acres – the equivalent of 100 football fields – and, as this report is published, the fire is zero percent contained.

The 100 acres was the estimate as of 2 p.m. The Forest Service later reported that the fire had grown to 200 acres by Tuesday evening.

To read the full article, check it out on St George News, by Mori Kessler, on September 8th 2015.

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Top 6 Tips for Student Pilots to Land the Best Aviation Jobs

For most student pilots attending helicopter flight school, it is all about landing the best paying jobs as a career pilot. Why else would anyone invest a great deal of money to learn to fly (as a commercial pilot) unless it was to position yourself to compete for the best aviation jobs?

Therefore, there are certain decisions that student helicopter pilots need to make before they start flight school. In other words, before you move across the country to attend a top flight school, you need to consider the steps successful student pilots have taken to land the best paying commercial pilot jobs. We recommend that you learn from those who have succeeded.

#6.  Personal Branding – Develop Powerful Social Media Presence: Start branding yourself before you start flight school. This may sound presumptious, but there is a lot you can do before you start developing your piloting skills. At the very least, get plugged into the vast network of commercial pilots and helicopter companies.

In the very near future your personal brand will become extremely important. And, it takes time to get your personal brand established (e.g. Social Media). When it comes to your current and future commercial helicopter pilot career, you need to establish and then promote your personal brand (your professional image). Imagine “branding” success when the brand you’re promoting is YOU!

What is a personal brand? “You’re a brand. I’m a brand. We’re all brands, whether we try or not”.

Personal branding is the purposeful process of managing and optimizing the way that you are seen by others, especially potential employers.sam-cribbs

The benefits of developing a powerful online personal brand.

1. Being seen by the right people (prospective employers), seeing you in the best light.
2. Build positive network associations – building your brand reputation.
3. Develop beneficial associations (connections) within your industry
4. Generate greater credibility and value
5. Create recognition and prestige through your associations.

Effectively designing social media profiles is the best way to promote and manage your personal brand. You can either control the narrative (the information), or be controlled by it.

Just how vital is your personal brand strategy? We recommend that you do a Google search of your name. Trust me, your future employers will Google your name before they schedule an interview. After Googling your name, what did you find? Is it positive? Does it represent you well? Will the info that comes up when Googling your name help you compete against others, helping you land the best aviation jobs?

The top search results should be from your social networks; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google+. If you’re serious about promoting yourself professionally, people should also find images, videos, and blog posts that you have written and published online. Next, when clicking on your social media accounts, is your professional image proprely presented? Does your social media presence help you to stand out above the rest?  If not, it’s time to get started.A helicopter association conference - Networking is a big part of landing the best aviation jobs.

Your social media presence (and content: images, video, blog posts) can be the backbone of your personal branding strategy – helping you to get your foot in the door and effectively compete for the best jobs.

#5.  Networking – Attend Aviation Association Conferences: You will hear the following over and over again… “its not what you know, as much as it is who you know.“ Mastering the art of “networking” is how most people get the top jobs in the aviation industry. For examples of top paying “Tier 1” industry jobs, click here.

Networking is hard work and takes skill and patience. Networking is not brown-nosing or schmoozing. There’s actually an art to it. When done properly, with authenticity, integrity, and honesty, networking will open doors like nothing else can.

#4.  Find an Experienced Mentor: Most employed commercial pilots can identify at least one person who took them “under their wing”, helping them to advance their careers. Before you get your start in the aviation industry, we recommend that you find a flight training program stacked with mentors.

r-44-feedAn effective mentor is an experienced pilot (or pilots) who will contribute to your overall success as a commercial pilot. A good mentor will educate you, through wisdom and experience, so that you can plot your career path before it ever gets started – and then be there as a guide as you advance your career towards the best aviation jobs.

At its most basic level, mentoring is a process in which an individual with more experience or expertise provides encouragement, advice, and support to a less experienced colleague, with the goal of helping the person being mentored learn something that he or she would have learned more slowly, less effectively, or not at all if left alone (definition by Chip Bell as written in “Manager as Mentors”).
Webster defines a mentor as, “a trusted counselor or guide.” Mentors will make the difference between getting a job and being unemployed.

Mentors, people with industry experience, will not only help you start your career, but also open some doors when you are ready to land your first industry job.  The aviation industry is small, and competing for good paying jobs is all about “who you know.” Through a well-connected mentor you can get your resume to the top of the stack.

If you have a family your spouse must be 100% behind your career. Before starting flight school your spouse has to know what you are getting him/her into – your spouse needs to know everything about becoming a commercial pilot (how long it will take, the time commitment, the cost, the career opportunities, the salaries and wages, location(s) of the jobs, and the type of work schedule). This commitment is a shared commitment (all family members), and without the spouse’s support it will become a nightmare.

Choosing the right flight training school is the first step to your commitment. Do your homework – don’t choose the first school that comes along.  Your flight school will determine your value and worth as a pilot, so make an informed educated decision. The flight school you choose should help you with all six of these “6 Tips”.

#3.  Total Commitment and Focus: Experienced pilots will tell you, that in order to become a commercial pilot (especially pilots with the best aviation jobs), you need to be 100% committed and focused on your training and career development. Becoming a commercial pilot means that you must be a professional pilot – with a big emphasis on “professional”.

A commercial pilot is not a part-time recreational endeavor.  Learning to fly can be fun, but to become an employable commercial pilot it takes tremendous sacrifice, persistence, and total commitment. Total immersion is required.

Becoming a commercial pilot is very similar to becoming a doctor or a lawyer.  Your training and education is very important, and not very forgiving. Meaning, as a student pilot you can’t afford to make mistakes. Your mind, energy, and focus must be completely funneled toward your training. If you are not ready, or able, to commit everything toward your training – don’t start.

#2.  Know the Industry: Before you start your journey toward becoming a commercial pilot you have to make the right moves from day one (i.e., choosing the right flight school). Your career depends upon making the right choices at the right time for the right reasons. Therefore, before you start training, you need to know the industry.

We recommend that you do your research. For example, call a few of the Helicopter Tour companies in Las Vegas. Tell them that you are serious about becoming a commercial pilot and you are conducting some research. Ask to speak with a Chief Pliot, or the Chief Instructor. You need to know the answers to the following question:

  • “What pilot jobs are available?”
  • “What is a good career path as a professional pilot?”
  • “What makes a good pilot?”
  • “What are employers looking for when hiring pilots?”
  • “What experience will make me more employable?”
  • “What is the typical cost for flight training?”
  • “How long is training going to take, and what personal commitment must I be willing to make?”
  • “What are some of the mistakes others have made that hurt their careers?
  • “What are the choices of high paying pilots that advanced their career?”
  • “Do I have what it takes?”

Once you have a pretty good idea about the questions above, start looking for a flight training school that will present a path towards the best aviation jobs. When interviewing prospective flight schools they should answer each one of the question above exactly in the same way that the Helicotper Tour companies did. The school’s answers to these questions should jive with the best Tier 1 Employers answers. If they don’t, move on to the next school.

#1.  Choose the Right Flight School – Do Your Homework: Have you ever noticed that most presidential candidates graduated from Harvard or Yale? The same is true with Wall Street executives and CEO’s of top corporations –they’ve all graduated at the top universities (there are always exceptions). The point is, to get the top jobs in government or private business you need to attend a top school. The same is true with getting the best aviation jobs.

Your flight training and education will matter. It will make you or break you. The type of training you receive, along with “who trained you”, will either advance your career or hold you back. Our recommendation is that you carefully explore your options and make an informed choice. Go so far as to visit at least three flight schools before you enroll. Interview the people who will be training you. Look deeply into their results… meaning, “Where are their graduates? Where are they employed?”

Related Articles

Tier 1 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

Landing a Tier 2 Helicopter Pilot Job

Types of Tier 3 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

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 (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Helicopter Pilots: Landing a Good Job Includes Networking

What is your industry network and who is in it? If you don’t know, you need to know. For helicopter pilots, landing the best job is all about pilot skills, experience, AND networking. Of course, you will need a good resume, the right type of experience, and some very good people skills. But even more important, you must be known by those who have influence in the industry. Helicopter pilots get hired because they have good connections with reputable people within the industry. Essentially, they know somebody. If you are not known, you might struggle to find good jobs that pay well.

The absolute best “networking” opportunity is to attend Heli Expo presented by Helicopter Association International. Another great opportunity can be found at the Heli Success conference in Las Vegas. Both conferences are incredible opportunities to meet prospective industry influencers.

Being “professional” is a serious matter, and you need to be a serious pilot. However, having a good personality is just as important. Always be approachable, humble, and courteous. Be willing to smile, laugh at appropriate times, and be comfortable being yourself. If you struggle with “people” (too shy or too aggressive) work on your people skills during flight training. Both “piloting skills” and “people skills” will advance your career, or hold you back. Again, landing the best pilot job is all about networking.

Networking is not about passing out business cards. In the helicopter aviation world networking is work. You must be authentic, genuine, conscientious, alert, and passionate about the helicopter industry. It helps if you like people, or at least enjoy meeting new people. When networking with the influencers of the helicopter industry remember that they have the same interests you have – flying helicopters. Learn to enjoy the process and maximize your opportunities. Always remember, first impressions are important so take it seriously.

Networking – What is it?

  • Building professional relationships
  • Introducing yourself and meet people known
  • Find people with similar backgrounds and interests
  • Get known
  • Join industry associations and be willing to serve
  • Listen, learn, and be receptive

What networking isn’t

  • Schmoozing, brown-nosing
  • Appear needy, pushy, disingenuous
  • Whipping out business cards
  • Connecting online without a proper introduction
  • Shot-gunning blind resumes

Your First Connection Comes From Your Flight School – Choose Wisely

The first important connection you will establish comes from the helicopter flight school you attend. This connection can help you, or hurt you. It depends on the quality of the helicopter school and the type of training you receive. The top schools will prepare you for industry, including helping you to development leadership skills (people skills).

Moreover, the best helicopter flight schools can help you get your first job. First, the better flight schools hire their top graduates (CFI). Second, the best flight training programs are networked with Tier 1 employers, and, therefore, are positioned to help graduates get their first industry job outside of flight instruction. Tier 1 employers will recruit pilots from the best flight schools. Your reputation as a pilot will be tied to the school you trained with.

You will hear that the “helicopter aviation industry is very small”. You will hear this over and over again. Why? Because it is true. Helicopter pilots build their reputations over time, both good and bad. If you stick around long enough, people in the industry will know you by reputation before they meet you. You certainly do not want to burn any bridges or fail an employer. Negative “nicks” on your reputation will follow you everywhere. If you are a good pilot, people will know. If you are jumping from job-to-job, they will know that too. If you are “networked,” a great communicator with good people skills, AND you are a good pilot, your resume will be at the top of every stack.

How are your people skills? Do you need leadership training?

Helicopter pilots with good people skills naturally know how to build strong connections with industry leaders. The question is: “How are your people and leadership skills?” Are you coachable? Are you teachable? Do you listen? Do you communicate well? Do you follow instructions? Do you submit to authority? Do you get along well with colleagues and customers? If not, you need help. Your pilot career will only go so far, and regardless of your experience you will be overlooked and left behind.

If you are a great communicator with good people skills, it will be easier for you to build strong connections with industry leaders. If not, get some help now. Find a school that will teach you flight training AND people skills. We are not suggesting that you become a “brown noser” – that never works and will always backfire. We are referring to an authentic desire to learn from the best. Be a good student, never be a know-it-all, and be hungry to learn while working very hard. Be dependable, flexible, courteous, respectful, and fair. Always be willing to learn from every situation. Treat everyone with respect, honor, and protect their dignity – just like you would want to be treated. Essentially, be a professional in every way.

Industry experts will tell you to find a mentor

The helicopter industry experts will tell you that you need to find several mentors early in your career. Find several people who have risen to the top of the aviation industry. Reach out and establish a professional relationship. At the right time, in the right moment, ask them to help you to be the best all around pilot. Don’t be intrusive, or arrogant, but simply say, “how did you get here (industry leader) and can you help me craft my career?”

Attend industry conferences and meet people face-to-face. Be patient. It may take dozens of conferences before you can connect with industry leaders. Once you have established a connection, never “name drop”. Never exaggerate your experience. Be humble and appreciative. Show prospective mentors that you are serious about professionalism, and be willing to develop real relationships. Never let your mentor down and do not soil his/her reputation by acting like a bonehead – you might not recover.

The time to develop a network starts before you start flight school

The time to develop your industry connections is now. Before you choose a flight school, do your homework. Call Tier 1 employers and ask them for a recommendation on flight schools. If you have chosen a school, before you sign on the dotted line, call around and find out if they have a good reputation for producing quality helicopter pilots for the industry.

Networking Tips for Introverts

  • Network one-on-one rather than in big groups
  • Work toward creating valuable, deep relationships with a handful of approachable influencers
  • Prepare in advance – anticipate key topics and have questions ready to get a conversation going
  • Help someone else network, or pair up with someone you know to get an introduction

5 Tips to get your foot in the door

  • Discipline yourself and make a plan
  • Stay alert – look for opportunities to be around the right people at the right time
  • Don’t hijack conversations or outstay your welcome
  • Be open to new ideas and alternative plans
  • Utilize the people you already know

The Network Code of Ethics

  • First impressions are everything
  • Everyone you meet will be evaluating you – be smart
  • Helicopter aviation is a small industry – people talk
  • Think about proper business attire – if in doubt, overdress
  • Take out piercings and cover tattoos
  • Be smart with alcohol – don’t get sloshed
  • Know your career plans
  • Get rid of negative attitudes or sense of entitlement
  • Social Media can sink your ship

HAI – Heli Expo Networking Opportunities

  • Pilot Mentoring Panels
  • Industry Job Fair
  • Rotor Safety Challenges
  • Welcome Reception
  • Annual Membership Breakfast
  • Committee Meetings
  • Salute to Excellence Awards Dinner
  • Heli Expo Exhibitor Booths
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 (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

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