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
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 Fixed Wing
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:
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.
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.
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.
Upper Limit Aviation (ULA) is a professional flight school for student pilots aspiring to launch their airplane pilot careers. Deciding on a career as a commercial pilot is a life-changing decision. Do you dream of flying for a living? Do you enjoy traveling and realtime adventure? If you are exploring the possibilities of a professional pilot career or simply want to earn your Private Pilot’s License, ULA is the place to start your journey.
As per the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, the number of jobs for airline and commercial pilots is expected to grow by 11% per year. (www.bls.gov). Globally, aviation is experiencing significant growth with over 8.3 million people working directly in the aviation industry.
Upper Limit Aviation is More Than a Flight School – We Launch People into Careers
There are two powerful reasons why today is the right time for you to pursue fixed wing piloting career. One, there are employers looking for experienced well-trained pilots. Good pilots are in demand worldwide. Two, flying airplanes for a living is your lifelong dream. It is your passion. You know in your heart that flying airplanes is what you were born to do. What are you waiting for? The obstacles, to becoming a commercial pilot, will not go away. Let us help you find a way to navigate through the obstacles and find the way to fulfilling your dream. Upper Limit Aviation is one of the top flight training programs in the US. For more information about flight school training call 844-iFLYEDU today!
Fixed-wing careers with annual salaries ranging from $22,000 to $200,000
Movies and Film
Search and Rescue
Law Enforcement (Local/Hwy PD, CIA, FBI)
Tours and Sight Seeing
Oil and Gas Industry Transport
USFS – BLM Transportation – Firefighting, Game Control, Capture and Count
Helicopter pilot or airplane pilot? The answer depends on whom you ask. Experienced helicopter and airplane pilots will be very specific with their answer to this question. But what about “aspiring pilots”, those who are not yet pilots, but their dream is to become commercial pilots? To an aspiring pilot, the response to this question varies tremendously. However, the answer to this query will define their career, so they need to get it right.
The Main Difference between Helicopters and Airplanes
The main difference between the two types of pilots is obvious; airplanes and helicopters are completely different machines with different flight characteristics, capabilities, and missions. Therefore, for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on the reason pilots become a specific type of pilot. The outcome of this question really depends upon your “heart and passion” for flying, as well as your individual life goals.
For a detailed list of information as to the differences between professional helicopter pilots and career airplane pilots read the article below (underneath the video “Airplane versus Helicopter”). The article may contain information you never thought of, but need to know.
The “career” is where the key differences between the helicopter pilot and airplane pilot reside. With both airplanes and helicopters, pilots need to build hours (flight time) to get a job. For airplane pilots, you will need 1,500 hours as a pilot and get what the FAA calls an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, known as your ATP, before you will see your first job. This is a requirement for airplane pilots in order to begin working for Air Carrier operators.
Once you are a certified airplane pilot you will being to work on getting the required flight hours before you start your move up the employment ladder. As an airplane pilot you may have to take two or three “entry level” jobs before you can enjoy a lucrative career as a commercial airline pilot (working for a major air carrier hauling passengers or cargo). Airplane pilots have to compete in a very competitive job market. Without a college degree, it is almost impossible to move up the job ladder.
When it comes to helicopter pilots the flight time and requirements are similar to the airplane path described above, but there is less competition for the best jobs (there are less helicopter pilots available combined with a very high global demand for helicopter pilots – all good news for helicopter pilots).
Typically, helicopter pilots can reach the top paying jobs faster than that of an airplane pilot. The real question boils down to… do you want to fly straight line distances at 30,000 feet on autopilot, or do you want to FLY in a dynamic environment, landing almost anywhere?
Airplane flying can’t be compared with helicopter flying. Most people have one or the other in their blood, and the decision is easy.
You have to ask yourself what type of flying you actually want to be doing for your career. Hopefully, your career will be long, so you have to make the right decision for yourself. Although there are are plenty of flight careers for both airplane and helicopter pilots, those with the right training and education get the better opportunities.
Below is a Short List of Possible Career Paths for Experienced Airplane Pilots.
Airline Pilot carrying Passengers or Cargo.
Private Charter Pilot
Certain Law Enforcement or Government Operations
Bush Flying or Division of Wildlife Work
Professional Instructor Pilot
I’m sure there’s more, but if we’re being honest, most who choose to be an Airplane Pilot are looking for a career with a Major Airline.
Here’s a List of Possible Career Paths for the Experienced Helicopter Pilot.
Pipeline Patrol Pilot
Offshore Oil Rig Pilot
Air Tour Pilot
Utility Pilot Carrying External Loads (How do they get those Air Conditioning Units on top of those Skyscrapers anyway?)
Local, State or Federal Law Enforcement
Professional Instructor Pilot (Many start their career as an Instructor, but don’t forget there are Chief Instructors who are at the top of the Industry when it comes to flight experience at Every School).
How Much are You Motivated by Money?
We recommend that money should not be your primary factor when it comes to deciding between a career as an helicopter pilot or airplane pilot. Unfortunately, for many people “money” is the sole motivating factor. And that’s okay. Some people are motivated by materialistic things and they measure their success based on the size of their bank account and the list of toys they have acquired. Be forewarned: working 65-80 hours a week performing a job that you hate is not good. Would you rather make less money doing what you love (flying)?
How does “money” fit into our conversation on becoming a helicopter pilot or airplane pilot? Simple, in the long run, you potentially make more money as an airplane pilot. This is due to simple logistics; Airplanes can carry more passengers or cargo. If you are solely motivated by money, you may want to consider becoming an airplane pilot. Mature experienced airplane pilots can make well over $100,000 per year, but it takes longer to get to the big money than it does for helicopter pilots. Experienced helicopter pilots can make $65,000 to $85,000, and some make up to 100K and above.
Flying at high altitudes going in one straight line on autopilot is not very much fun for helicopter pilots. If you want to be creative, adventurous, and “free” consider becoming a helicopter pilot. Regardless of the pathway you choose, if you are considering becoming a Professional Pilot, you need to ask yourself what motivates you and why you want to be a pilot (either type). When you find that answer, Upper Limit Aviation is here to help you make it happen.
Airplane Pilots: Job Opportunities and Salaries
For valid information regarding the job opportunities and salaries of airplane pilots, click here. Airplane pilots flying turbo-prop planes enter the aviation industry making around $20,000 to $25,000 per year (entry level jobs). New pilots take these jobs to build flight hours. They sacrifice money for flight hours so that they can advance their careers and make “the big money” later down the line. They may fly for 2 to 5 years with a Regional Airline (turbo-prop or jets) before they can compete for a piloting job with a major airline. Airplane pilots flying for the major airlines can make $100,000 to $200,000.
Recently, Boeing proclaimed that the world will need at least 28,000 new pilots per year to keep up with the demand. The same report claims that the world will need 500,000 new pilots between now and 2034. This is great news for airplane pilots.
Helicopter Pilots Job Opportunities and Salaries
Newly certified commercial helicopter pilots will make $25,000 to $30,000 per year as a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor). Once they have accumulated 1,200 to 1,500 flight hours, they start looking for what is known as a “Tier 1” pilot job (for more info about Tier 1 jobs, click here). It will take a year or two as a CFI to build 1,200 to 1,500 flight hours.
However, Tier 1 helicopter pilots make $45,000 to $65, 000. Pilots with 3,000 to 5,000 flight hours can advance to “Tier 2” pilots jobs (click here for more info on Tier 2 pilot jobs), making $65,000 to $85,000 per year. Next comes “Tier 3” pilot jobs. The best helicopter pilots with 5,000 hours or more can compete for Tier 3 jobs and make $100K plus (Tier 3 Jobs, click here).
Aviation Schools Online published an article recently pointing to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statics regarding job forecasts for all pilots. The article is especially important to helicopter pilots. The point is that the world will need new helicopter pilots for decades to come. Right now there is a huge shortage of pilots, and this is not expected to change anytime soon. The pilots with the best training, most hours, and top education will have less competition for the best piloting jobs anywhere in the world. For more on the story of helicopter pilot jobs, click here. Simply do a Google search and you will find dozens of articles from reputable sources, and all of them are saying the same thing – the world needs helicopter pilots!
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.
Are you ready to LEARN TO FLY today? Call Upper Limit Aviation at 844-iFLYEDU and schedule a intro flight, or click here to find out more information about our flight school. Need financing for flight training? If you’ve always dreamed of flying, or your desire is to become a commercial pilot, now is the time to make the commitment and realize your dream. Upper Limit Aviation has been training student pilots since 2004, and now is your time to take flight.
Stacy Steele’s intro flight was an amazing experience, beyond words, beyond description, and just what she needed. When Stacy arrived at Upper Limit Aviation to take her intro flight, she really did not expect to fly. Stacy thought she was just along for a ride. With ULA Chief Flight Instructor, Alan Carver, at the helm, Stacy actively participated in the takeoff, flight of the aircraft, and landing. Stacy was hooked.
Watch Stacy’s Intro Flight Experience with Upper Limit Aviation
Most people describe their first flight (actual “non-passenger” flying experience) as one of the most amazing experiences of their life. If you’ve always dreamed of flying an airplane, it all starts with your intro flight. So what are you waiting for? If you have not taken an intro flight, schedule one now.
If you are looking to learn to fly with Upper Limit Aviation, your first step is to schedule an intro flight. Most flight schools and instructors charge a reasonable rate for an introductory flight. Upper Limit Aviation offers serious student pilot candidates a great deal on their intro flight, and we go beyond what other schools offer.
Scheduling an introductory flight is not as complicated as you would think. We do suggest that your flight be scheduled to be flown in good weather conditions. Bad weather conditions (wind, or rain/snow) is not advised for your first flying experience.
When you arrive at Upper Limit Aviation, you will be well taken care of. We realize this might be your very first flying experience, and we want to make sure that it is a memorable one. You will be flying with an experienced flight instructor. Remember, no matter how experienced your flight instructor might be, he or she was in your shoes at one time. They uniquely understand the importance of an awesome introductory flight.
Before you go anywhere your instructor will take you through the preflight inspections (be ready to ask all the questions you can think of). Before you depart the tarmac, your flight instructor will cover the basics of the airplane (instruments, flight controls, shoulder harnesses, start procedures, taxi procedures, communication with the tower, and a checklist of safety items). Your first flight and every flight after that will be all about safety – now you are ready for takeoff.
Your flight instructor may allow you to taxi the aircraft to the runway, allowing you to steer the airplane. The instructor will always be flying the plane, but he or she may have you keep a hand on the control yoke and your feet on the pedals. This way you get a realistic feel for flying the plane. At this point, your instructor will take you through basic flight maneuvers, and described the “what and why” of each maneuver.
Your first intro flight will take about 30 minutes in the air. After flying, you will be encouraged to spend some time discussing your flight experience with your instructor. It is recommended you ask all the questions that come to mind. If, after your intro flight, you are set on earning your Private Pilot’s license, then it’s time to enroll.
Most ULA student pilots are considering a career in aviation, so they continue with ULA after earning their Private Pilot certificate. Upper Limit Aviation can take a student pilot from Private Pilot, Instrument, and to Commercial in 9 to 12 months. If you are also looking to obtain your Certified Flight Instructor and Certified Flight Instructor Instrument ratings, you can do so through Upper Limit Aviation by adding another six months of training.
For more information about scheduling an intro flight with Upper Limit Aviation, call us at (801) 596-7722.
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.”
The new Cabri G2 is a three blade rotor system that has an innovative design that some industry specialists say has the potential to compete with the Robinson R22 in the flight training aircraft market.
The Cabri helicopter was made possible due to the genius of Bruno Guimbal, who was one of the key design engineers at Eurocopter. Bruno wanted to develop an aircraft that had a small piston engine but had the safety levels of a turbine aircraft. His work helped small aircraft designers take advantage of the superior flight features of the larger turbine helicopters.
We stacked the two helicopter’s specifications (Cabri G2 & Robinson R22) side by side in the table below to help evaluate some of the important factors in these two aircraft. It appears that in a few critical areas the Cabri keeps pace with the R22 but the Robinson R22 is the most affordable helicopter, has the highest density altitude performance and has a well known reputation for reliability. Until the Cabri G2 has flown throughout the world from flight training exercises to pipeline patrol and until the Cabri G2 can document sustained performance, low cost and reliability, the flight training helicopter of choice will remain the Robinson R22.