Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

CFII-ASEL instructing Helo Inst students

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Jan 1, 2002
The FBO I'm instructing at does both helicopter and fixed wing instruction. As you can imagine it's a lot cheaper for them to do the first 25 hours of instrument training in a 172. We have helo CFII instructors to finish up the training. I'm a CFII with no helo experience.

I've got my first helicopter student starting today and I would appreciate any advice or observations any of you might have who have done this.
I'm a bit torn on how much primary airplane instruction to give these people and whether I should emphasize or deemphasize any aspects of the regular curriculum. I would like it if they had enough skills to get the plane back on the ground if I died of a heart attack but I don't want to waste their time and money doing maneuvers they can't apply to helicopters or that might even interfere with their training when thet get back to the helo flying.

So if any of you have taught both or if your a fixed wing instructor who has taught helo students please give me any advice you can.


It's good that your concerned about what's best for the student.

If those students are strictly helo then I wouldn't recommend wasting any of their time teaching them airplane manuvers (slow flight, stalls, ldgs, T/O, etc) unless they have money burning holes in their pockets. The only manuvers that really translate are straight and level, climbs, decents, and turns.

Personally, I think it's over-kill to use an actual airplane to teach them instrument basics. They could get the same on a simple PC flying MS FlightSim. Not to sound harsh, but it sounds to me like your flight school is trying to make a few extra bucks from these students. I've just never seen or heard of it done like that before. And from my experience it doesn't sound practical (the Law of Interference).

Good luck, Timp
Helo instrument students

I've had it the opposite way. I had two helo pilots, one of whom needed an airplane instrument rating and the other, who was a rated Army helo pilot, was going through Mesa to fly airplanes.

The controls are different, but the thought processes are the same. Control-performance, i.e. setting up specific pitch, power and trim settings and expecting a particular performance, or primary and supporting. Accordingly, I think what I'd do would be to teach the normal ground procedures and normal takeoff, which I'd let them do. In flight, teach the usual BAI, steep turns, unusual attitudes, and then concentrate on the usual instrument stuff, i.e. radio nav, holding, approaches, ASR, PAR, partial panel, etc. Show a normal landing and let your student try a few, but don't pad time on his nickel. Most of your flights will end with an approach to a full stop. You should let them land, but don't hammer the landings as much as you would an airplane student.

See what other instructors do at your FBO as well. You'll find that rotor pilots have a great feel for the controls and pick up airplane flying quickly. They are sometimes confused about landings because in helicopters they approach at a steeper angle than airplanes, and once they land, it's over, with no after-landing rollout.

Hope that helps a little. I thought my two rotorheads did a great job for me.
Last edited:
I teach both

Just curious, if the individual is not going to fly fixed wing, then why the inst trng in the 172 and not a simulator. Depending on the aircraft involved, the site picture is totally different concerning the attitude indicator. Even using a fixed wing simulator to teach the approaches, PT's, stuck card, NDB's, etc., would be more bennificial, IMO. I do know that the Navy helo pilots start out in the fixed wing and then go to the helicopter, but the Army starts right into the helicopter. Not sure if any AF guys get fixed wing training first, but they also go to the Army's training facilities for their primary and instrument flight training.

The only advantage that I can agree with here is that they will experience ATC, airport operations, navigation to and from the airport, etc. so the school may have a point in using the fixed wing at a lower cost. If you are going to use the 172, then obviously you would do all TO's and Lndg's. He will pick up the flying portion in the air pretty fast. Since he will be under the hood most of the time, I would just go into the procedural aspects of instruments and how to interpret the information on the indicators. You know, how to track an NDB, Loc, BC, VOR, PT's, Holding entries, cross radial fixes, MAP's, compass turns, timed turns, etc.
I'm sure the school has very good reasons and has alot more experience than I do, so the point here is that we all come up with different ways of doing things so the student gets the most bang for his buck. Good luck! Tim. ;)
Helo. Inst Training cont.

Thanks everyone for the responses!

TimP - These helo pilots still need their 40 of instrument and I'm sure you're aware they can't do that on MS Flight Sim. I really expected to do about an hour of basic instruction before starting attitude instrument flying. The school could make more money flying them in R22's for all of their instrument training but the helo side of the school is heavily booked and the students get the added benefit of learning a lot of the skills at about half the cost.

Bobbysamd - Thanks for your input. As you and other instructors where I work have said Helo Pilots usually have a fine touch for the controls and learn the fixed wing stuff pretty quickly. That's an interesting point about the approach angle.

Tim47SIP - We don't have a Helo Simulator, I understand they're pretty spendy. We do have an approved PCATD which I understand can be used for 10 hours of the training.

Any other comments? I in particular don't want to emphasize anything that will interfere with their training when transitioning back to the Helo training - You know the law of interference, as TimP said. I would probably do well to get some helo training, read some helo books so I can better understand what they go through. One thing I do know is that most of these Robinsons and the like don't have nearly as much instrumentation and some of the procedures such as holding can be pretty challenging.

Thanks again!

Latest resources