Helicopter Pilot Program


It's often said that the best office is a cockpit. Being a helicopter pilot comes with stunning views, incredible freedom and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Taking a machine into the sky is thrilling and sometimes life-altering. It's no wonder there is an exploding demand for pilots starting in 2020.


Interested In Becoming A Helicopter Pilot?

From 2020 to 2036, the demand for helicopter pilots is expected to soar, leaving shortages of upwards of 49,000 pilots, according to major aviation companies like Boeing and Airbus. But why?

It’s because the need for pilots worldwide is increasing, yet there are few FAA approved schools training helicopter pilots. At the same time many pilots are retiring further aggravating the shortage.

This might be one of the greatest opportunities to become a pilot since helicopters were invented. But what does it take to become a pilot?


Apply Now   Request Information 

Become a Helicopter Pilot In Under 2 Years

SUU Aviation is a University flight training program in Cedar City, Utah with the largest collegiate helicopter fleet in the nation and the most robust flight training. Through Southern Utah University you’ll graduate with a degree and you’ll be certified as a commercial helicopter pilot as well as a certified helicopter instructor pilot.

Helicopter landing next to smoke flare

Upon graduation you’ll have these certifications and 


  • Private Helicopter Pilot
  • Commercial Helicopter Pilot
  • Instrument Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • Certified Flight Instructor Instrument
  • Turbine Transition
  • External Load
  • Mountain Operations
  • Night Vision Goggles

What Makes SUU Aviation Unique?

Aviation students on the tarmac

Veteran Friendly

We’re one of the only flight schools in the nation to accept Post 9/11 GI Bill® Benefits. For eligible veterans that means your flight fees and tuition could be fully covered. 

Helicopter Instructor helping student land

Superior Training

At 5,622 feet above sea level we’re the highest altitude university flight school in the nation. You’ll fly in a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions. You’ll have experience in almost any real-world scenario. As part of your standard training you'll receive night vision, advanced mountain operations, long line and turbine training.

Fleet of planes and helicopters

Biggest Collegiate Helicopter Fleet

With SUU Aviation you’ll fly in the biggest helicopter fleet in the nation. You’ll fly in Robinson R44 Cadets, R44 Raven II’s, as well as Bell 206's, made with a Rolls Royce turbine engine.

Details About Our Helicopter Flight Training

Our rotor wing (helicopter) program is a five semester program that takes under two years to complete. With previous certifications it can be completed sooner. You’ll start to fly helicopters typically within the first two weeks of beginning the program.

People walking across runway

You’ll fly in real helicopters regularly because we believe you need to learn from the cockpit, not just the classroom.

To prepare you for flight we’ll teach you everything there is to know about helicopter safety, and each semester you’ll have a personal instructor who flies with you and acts as a tutor for your ground classes.

We use state of the art equipment in our flight school, such as our Frasca simulators. You’ll sit in a helicopter cockpit replica, with a 180-degree view and real-world maps and terrain. With the Frasca's map technology you can simulate flight in literally any location in the world.

Want to come for a visit? You'll see our fleet, facilities and meet the SUU Aviation Team.
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Helicopter Flight School: What You’ll Learn

It’s important to know what you’ll learn before investing in aviation school. Here’s what you’ll learn in our Helicopter flight school:

How to Fly Solo

We’ll teach you how to fly a helicopter all by yourself. We’ll show you everything you need to know step-by-step until you’re confident and ready to fly. We can get you flying in as little as one month but you’ll spend hours flying with an instructor and in the simulator before you ever fly solo.

Commercial Helicopter Flight

If you want to get paid to fly or carry passengers then you’ll need to gain your commercial helicopter certification. Flying with passengers comes with extra responsibilities so we’ll help you hone your skills until you’re confident enough to fly your own grandmother in the back seat.

Emergency Procedures

It’s important to prepare for emergencies before they happen. We’ll walk you through every possible emergency and teach you the corresponding procedure until it’s second nature. For example, you’ll learn how to manage a simulated engine failure -- in a real helicopter.

Helicopter Instrument Flight

Having a Helicopter Instrument Certification means you know how to fly in limited or no visibility using only the instruments in the cockpit. For example, you can fly through clouds. Without instrument training you'll miss out on most helicopter pilot jobs so we give you all the training you need.

Flight Instruction

You’ll earn a certified flight instructor (CFI) rating in our aviation school. A certified flight instructor is a person who flies in the cockpit with students and gives personal instruction. When you become a certified flight instructor you can get hired to teach students.

Helicopter Instrument Instruction

In our flight school you’ll earn a certified flight instructor in instrument (CFII) rating. This means you’ll be certified to teach helicopter instrument flight. An instrument rating means you’re certified to operate a helicopter using only the instruments in the cockpit.

Helicopter Pilot Salary  

You’re probably wondering how much money a helicopter pilot makes. As of October 2018 the average salary for helicopter pilots in the United States is around $93,000.  According to Salary.com, the average helicopter pilot salary ranges between $79,000 and $120,000. These prices will likely rise because demand for pilots is increasing.

Helicopter in Forest Field

Boeing released a report in October 2018 projecting a massive pilot shortage. They predict the demand for pilots will dramatically increase between 2020 and 2036, reaching a demand of 49,000 pilots worldwide. During the next 18 years in the United States industry professionals like Helicopter Association International (HAI) predict there will be a helicopter pilot shortage between 2,200 and 7,600 pilots. That's between a 15% and 50% growth of the current industry!

This is good news for future helicopter pilots, because as demand for pilots increases, so will salaries, benefits, and job opportunities. This is the perfect time to become a helicopter pilot.

Interested In Attending?

Apply now while you’re thinking about it. It takes less than 10 minutes.

Apply Now!

Special Funding For Veterans

Veterans, because of your service to our nation you have an incredible funding option through the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. This bill can cover up to the full cost of your flight fees and tuition. Most of our veteran students qualify for full funding of our program.

Additionally, you may qualify for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) while you attend our program, meaning while you’re here your housing costs could be covered. Most of our veterans qualify for BAH while in our program.

Speak with our SUU Veterans office to see what you qualify for.

Helicopter Flight Courses

Here’s a quick list of available courses in our aviation program:

  • PILT 1145 Solo Pilot
  • PILT 1155 Private Pilot Certification
  • PILT 2215 Combined Instrument/Commercial 1 (XC)
  • PILT 2275 Combined Instrument/Commercial II (Instrument)
  • PILT 2305 CFI
  • PILT 2355 CFII*
  • PILT 1305 Piston Transition
  • PILT 1315 Instrument
  • PILT 2205 Commercial Cross Country
  • PILT 2245 Commercial Certification
  • PILT 2405 Turbine Transition
  • PILT 2445 Mountain Operations
  • PILT 2455 External Load
  • PILT 2465 Night Vision

Students are trained in accordance with FAA approved curriculum by quality flight instructors using state of the art rotor craft.

Want to Know More?

Request Information

It takes 30 seconds. We’ll tell you about aviation scholarships, give you industry information and answer any questions about helicopter flight training you have.

Or contact us to come take a tour.


Cedar City, Utah
You can pursue an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree at SUU. To name a few, the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS), Bachelor's Degree in General Studies (BSGS),  and Bachelor of Aviation Science.
Certain aircraft do have weight restrictions. Generally the lighter you are the cheaper your flight training will cost because it’s more affordable to fly in a lighter aircraft. Contact us to get specific info.
Yes! Funding depends on your eligibility so check with our financial aid department finaid@suu.edu or 435-586-7735
$93,000 not including benefits. Chief helicopter pilot salaries average between $134,177 and $189,842.

Source: salary.com
Yes, a lot and there are more coming. The vast majority of our bachelor's degree graduates have jobs within the first year of graduation. We’ll share job postings with you and opportunities through our various partnerships.

If you’re interested in attending you need to be admitted to Southern Utah University. It only takes about ten minutes to apply and most applicants qualify. Flight slots can fill quickly so you may be given additional requirements if you wait to apply after the semester is filled. You also need to pass the FAA Medical Exam.

Yes! As long as your vision is correctable to 20/20 and you can pass the medical exam you are good to fly.

The FAA does have a minimum age requirement to fly but no maximum. You must be at least 16 years old to start training and 17 to receive a certificate. So long as you can pass the FAA Medical exam, we deem you fit to fly!

There are quite a few specifics. It's best if you read up on the medical exam requirements.

Plenty of pilots are afraid of heights, including one of our own chief pilots.

Flying is different because you’re in the safety of the cockpit and you don’t feel the altitude. We like to compare it to driving down the freeway at 80 mph vs riding a bicycle at 80 mph. Riding a bicycle would be terrifying but in the safety of a car, you’re not afraid of the speed.

Height and altitude work similarly in a helicopter.

Two years, but it can be completed sooner in special cases.
It’s one of the most beautiful and most affordable places to live in the country, and it’s the best place to fly. If you can fly in Cedar City you can fly anywhere because you experience the full spectrum of weather and terrain conditions.

Cedar City is located next to three world-famous national parks: the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon. In the winter there’s plenty of snowboarding and skiing in Utah’s world-renowned powder snow, and just an hour to the south you can escape to the desert for year-round hiking. During the summer there’s excellent hiking and camping locations, as well as fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, boating, and just about any outdoor activity you could think of.

We won the national title for “Most Outdoorsy School in the Nation.” There’s plenty to do in Cedar City besides just flying.
We have three semesters year-round: fall, spring and summer.

Fall semester typically starts in late August or early September.
Spring semester starts in early January.
Summer semester starts in May.

Because each year is slightly different, it’s a good idea to check the SUU Academic Calendar for the exact start and end dates for each semester.

Some students enroll after the semester begins. It’s possible to catch up so contact us if you’re wanting to start right away.


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