Southern Utah University Blog
 

What’s Needed to Qualify to Become A Helicopter Pilot?

Posted: February 11, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 6 minutes

Becoming a helicopter pilot is many people’s dream. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom you get from controlling a giant machine thousands of feet in the air. If you love flying and love the idea of being in control of a helicopter, then becoming a pilot is just for you. And even better, you can get paid to follow your dreams!

While the end result is amazing, becoming a helicopter pilot takes work. There’s a lot you need to know. Flying a helicopter is no easy task, and you’ll have to go through intense training before you’re able to get your license. 

What's Needed to Qualify to Become a Helicopter Pilot? SUU Helicopter Training

To qualify to become a helicopter pilot, there are criteria you have to meet before, during, and after your flight training. Once you’ve completed your flight training, you’ll be able to fly helicopters for a living. Here’s what you need to know or do before you’ll qualify to become a helicopter pilot.

Everything you need to begin flight training: 

Even before you attend flight school, you’ll need to meet these qualifications: 

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Read, write, and speak English
  • Pass an FAA medical exam

An FAA medical exam is required before you can begin your flight training. This exam needs to be completed by an official FAA AME (aviation medical examiner). 

Basically, this exam just clears you to fly and says that you’re physically able to do so. Unless you have unusual or extreme circumstances, most people are able to pass the FAA exam. You can see common medical exclusions on the FAA website. Even if you have some medical conditions, make sure you get examined, because you never know, you may pass. 

Once you have your FAA approval, there are a few more decisions to make. 

Choosing A Flight School:

Obviously, before you can begin your flight training you’ll need to find a place to train. The two basic options you’ll have are whether or not you want to get a degree. You can choose to go to a non-degree flight school or a flight school with a degree, which will probably be attached to a university. Learn to Become a Helicopter Pilot at SUU

An advantage of training with a university flight school is that by the time you complete your training, you’ll also have a university degree. While a degree is not required to become a pilot, having one will put you above your competition and help you qualify for management positions in the future. 

Another advantage of training with a university flight school is that you will most likely earn advanced certifications on top of the required commercial and private licenses. Any advanced certifications you earn will set you above the competition and prepare you to fly in all types of situations. 

A few advanced certifications or training you can earn at a university flight school include external load, mountain operations, night vision goggles, and turbine flying. With this advanced training, you’ll be well prepared for many of the best helicopter careers. Once you’ve picked the flight program you want, apply quickly so you can start on the next part of your journey. 

Finding Funding For Flight School: 

Once you’re accepted into a flight program, you’ll need to find funding. Becoming a pilot is expensive, but the pay off you’ll have when you start making money will be worth it. Finding funding may be easier if you attend a university flight school because as a university student, you'll be eligible for financial aid, scholarships, and student loans. If you’re a veteran, then you may not need to pay for any of your flight schooling. 

If you’re a qualified veteran, then chances are your education will be paid for by your VA benefits. There are a few university flight schools that are able to accept your benefits for a private license, so doing your research and finding a school where you can use your benefits should be your plan of action. 

What you can expect during your flight training:

To qualify to become a helicopter pilot you’ll need to study and train hard. It takes a lot of dedication to become a pilot, something you’ll soon discover. Becoming a pilot isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. 

What to expect during flight training

Each certification you earn will require a ground lab as well as flight hours. These labs will be used to teach you correct flight procedures and train you in the best flying practices. Along with your labs, you’ll be spending a lot of time up in the air. Some flight schools get students up flying helicopters within just a few weeks of training. Other programs take longer and make the student wait to actually begin flying. The sooner you start flying, the sooner you can get your licenses and the better prepared you’ll be.

There are quite a few tests you’ll have to pass before you can become a pilot. You’ll need to pass an official written and practical test before you’ll qualify for your pilot’s license. The practical test includes an oral exam and a flight test (check ride) for each of your certifications. 

What to do after completing your training:

Once you’ve finished your flight school training you’ll officially be a qualified helicopter pilot! You’ll be able to find a job and start getting paid for your passion. The minimum licenses you’ll need to qualify as a pilot are your private helicopter license, your commercial helicopter license, and your instrument rating. With these licenses, you’ll be able to start earning money. In order to earn these licenses, you’ll need to pass all tests and check rides and have the minimum amount of flight hours required for each certification

Finding a flight school

As mentioned before, it’s best to get as many certifications and licenses as possible. This will help you land higher-paying jobs and prepare you for any situation. 

Once you have your pilot’s licenses, you will most likely have to start out working at entry-level jobs until you’re able to build up your flight hours. A common job for beginning pilots is being a flight instructor, which will help you build flight hours and get experience while being paid. In general, the more flight hours you have, the more money you’ll make as a pilot. Because the aviation industry is so widespread and is all over the world, chances are that you can find a job as a pilot in almost any industry you want. 

Looking for a flight school?

Now is the time to begin your journey of becoming a helicopter pilot. At SUU Aviation, you can become a fully trained, licensed helicopter pilot in less than two years. You’ll earn all of your required licenses, as well as get advanced training. If you have any questions about our program or about becoming a helicopter pilot, give us a call. You can come on a tour, see our hangars, and sit in the aircraft. Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dream. 

Tags: Aviation

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