If the sight or sound of a distant helicopter causes you to rush outside and direct your attention to the sky, becoming a helicopter pilot may be the path for you. Converting the dream of becoming a helicopter pilot into a realistic career is a long but rewarding journey of which requires a great deal of commitment, sacrifice and dedication.
Being a helicopter pilot is not a career path to be taken lightly. It takes many years of training and effort before you get close to becoming employed. It is worth taking the time to thoroughly plan and research the industry, talking to as many helicopter pilots as possible and being prepared to do the hard yards. It will require a lot of work, time and money, but if the desire to become a helicopter pilot is there, it will be possible.
Becoming a Helicopter Pilot
Becoming a pilot could be likened to doing a university degree or an apprenticeship. It can be difficult due to the extensive time spent training and honing your helicopter flying skills whilst also managing the theory side of aviation. Combine this with the associated costs and personal commitments and it can become quite a money and time-consuming investment. But an exciting investment in yourself nonetheless. It is very much a never ending learning experience of which you will attain a unique and professional skill set and learn a lot about yourself along the way.
Your first solo flight, for instance will be a very memorable helicopter experience. Lifting into the hover with no one next you to ask questions might seem daunting at first, but the realisation that you are now in command of a real life, fully functioning rotary aircraft that requires precise mental and physical co-ordination is something else. There is a sense of satisfaction achieved on every helicopter flight. The process of becoming a pilot raises many questions of which can be difficult to answer, such as; How to choose a flight school? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Or, do I need to be perfectly fit and healthy?
It is worth looking around your local area for a good flight school and flight instructor to ask these questions and begin working with you on your private or commercial pilot licence. A good mentor will go a long way in the industry.
Every person has different needs and goals when it comes to flight training. There are plenty of ways to be involved in aviation at a young age and you can be eligible for a student pilot certificate by the age of 17 years to get your PPL (private pilot licence),(or 16 years old, to get a recreational pilot licence).
You must be at least 18 years old to get your CPL (commercial pilot licence). This will involve theory and practical flight training components with more hours, as well as a CPL flight test for the licence and category rating of the helicopter type you fly.
Although it may seem expensive, if you can gain some flying experience early on, it will be beneficial and help you determine whether flying helicopters is the right direction for you.
Being a Pilot - A Rewarding Experience
Once you have the licence this will potentially get your foot in the door with a helicopter operator. This is the beginning. It is all part of the commercial aviation experience - beginning to build the hours. To further advance your career options and experience, you could look into options such as becoming a helicopter instructor, charter pilot or even to fly privately. Once you are on your way, career options are many.
It is likely that once you begin working for a company, you will gain further skills, useful qualifications, endorsements (the experience of flying different helicopters!) and ratings to help further your career path towards a steady income and a comfortable living. That is - a living doing what some may consider the best job in the world.
So you need to weigh up whether the work, time and effort spent towards your dream of becoming a helicopter pilot is worth the exciting adventures, unique destinations and amazing experiences you will encounter along the way. As they say, helicopters will take you anywhere.