Is It Difficult To Become A Helicopter Pilot?

Posted: October 20, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 13 minutes

SUU student flying a helicopter

The idea of being in control of a large machine and safely flying passengers through the air is intimidating to a lot of people, but for many, becoming a helicopter pilot is a life-long dream. Even though it’s their dream, many people don’t follow through because they think that being a helicopter pilot is extremely difficult. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. 

How Difficult is it to Become a Helicopter Pilot?

Becoming a helicopter pilot isn’t easy, there’s a lot of studying, hard work, and dedication that goes into earning a pilot’s license. Once you’ve put in the effort, however, the reward will far outweigh the cost. With a pilot’s license, you can get paid to follow your dreams. You can sit in a cockpit thousands of feet above the ground all day while earning money. How amazing is that?

There are several different aspects of training to become a pilot. Each of these comes with its own struggles and difficulties. Here are some of the different parts of becoming a pilot and why it may be difficult for you.  

What are the Pros and Cons of Flight School?

Earning a pilot's license requires attending hard classes. If you’re training at a non-university flight school, then these ‘classes’ may be structured differently than if you’re training at a university flight school. Here we'll look at earning a pilot's license with a university and earning a degree. 

Going to a university comes with its own difficulties, not to mention the flight school aspect. If you’ve taken a break from school for the military or personal reasons, then getting back into the habit can be difficult. If you’re coming to the university straight from high school, then the different workload can be a bit shocking. Not only will you be taking difficult aviation courses, you’ll also take general courses that are required for a degree such as math, science, and English. 

Training to be a pilot certainly isn’t boring. Even though you’ll have a lot of studying, you’ll also be doing a lot of flying. A large part of your education will be spent hundreds of feet above the ground, learning to control a giant machine and react to any situation.

SUU Student flying an aircraft

The further along in your training you are, the more you’ll understand and likely the less overwhelmed you’ll feel. Students have go-to instructors for when you have questions. And friends and roommates to study with or go to school activities with. Depending on where you’re studying, there’ll probably be plenty of places for you to go around town or be out in nature to relax and destress. For example, if you train at Southern Utah University Aviation you’ll be living in Cedar City, Utah. Cedar City is close to multiple national parks and mountains.  

There are plenty of resources to turn to if you’re struggling. Whether you’re struggling financially, mentally, physically, or just don’t know where life is going to take you, there’s an office on campus or nearby that can help you. Campus resources are typically free for students, so there’s no reason not to seek help if you need it. 

What is the Trick to Passing Your Ground Labs?

Beyond general university classes, students take flight school classes as well. The time spent flying a helicopter is known as a flight lab, and the training in a classroom is known as a ground lab. 

Ground labs are similar to other university classes with textbooks, homework, readings, and exams. The difference here is that the classes will be aviation-specific and will focus on learning how to fly. This is where students learn the basic procedures of flying a helicopter and the laws regulating the aviation world. 

The more you study alone, with classmates, and with instructors, the more easily you’ll be able to pass ground labs. Because the information learned in ground labs applied to fly a helicopter, it’s important to successfully learn the information before putting it into practice. 

How Do I Master Flying?

Learning to fly a helicopter won’t be easy at first. There are lots of controls, instruments, and advanced maneuvers to master before earning a pilot's license. Students start off training with a flight simulator, but soon fly a real helicopter and will need to learn quickly. At SUU Aviation you may be flying a helicopter within the first week of training, but you’ll have an instructor with you every step of the way until you’re ready to take your first solo flight.

Part of flight training includes multiple check rides or flying tests, and they must be passed in order to earn a pilot's license. This is where procedures and maneuvers learned during ground labs are practiced. 

SUU aircraft class

As a pilot-in-training, you’ll be flying a helicopter in lots of different situations. Starting by learning the basics and working your way up until you’re comfortable with difficult maneuvers. Don’t expect to do well your first time flying a helicopter. Even flight simulators can’t quite prepare you for the actual thing. 

How Do I Finance Flight School? 

One of the biggest reasons for a student to drop out of flight school or never attend at all is because of finances. No matter where you train, becoming a helicopter pilot will be expensive. Flight school is expensive because flying and maintaining helicopters is expensive. 

Just remember that flight school is an investment. Sure, you may be spending a lot of money now, but pretty soon you’ll be out there flying helicopters and making money to live your dream. Not only that, but helicopter pilots have great salaries, so you’ll earn back the money you spent on flight school much sooner than you would in another career. 

If you’re a veteran, the financial aspect of training may not even apply to you and most of your training may be paid for by the VA. If you aren’t a veteran, it’ll be up to you to seek out financial aid, student loans, and scholarships. If you aren’t sure how you’re going to pay for flight school, then talk to your school’s financial counselor for some ideas on where to find funding. If you’re a veteran, contact your school’s veteran’s office to find out if your VA Benefits can pay for your flight training. 

For answers to lots of flight school financial questions, take a look at this video or read this article

SUU student flying an aircraft

If becoming a helicopter pilot is your dream, don’t let anything stop you. Sure, the training will be challenging, and flying a helicopter certainly isn’t easy, but in the end, you’ll be a licensed pilot and be living your dream. 

SUU Aviation

Not only does SUU Aviation train 10% of the incoming helicopter pilots in the nation, but they’ve also made rotor training their top priority. This is the only flight school I know of to put just as much emphasis on rotor training as it does on fixed wing training. To learn about the program or to find out more about how difficult it is to become a helicopter pilot, contact SUU Aviation

Tags: Aviation

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