Newbie-esque Career Q's

Goose Egg

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Hey all,

I have it on dubious authority (hence this post) that helicopter jobs are easy to obtain at the moment, as the Vietnam era guys are reaching retirement age (my father included--served but never flew.) I heard this on a recent visit to a local part 61 heli school (just while shootin' the breeze, not during any "sales pitch.") Any truth to that?

Just doing my homework.

Thanks,
Goose
 
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pilotyip

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There is some truth in the statement, they did produce a lot of all kinds of pilots during Vietnam and the majority of them are past or approaching 60. So they will be retiring soon. Not that 60 is a mandatory retirement age for helo or 135 ops. However not mentioned were 1,000's and 1,000's of helo pilot have been trained by the military since then and they are still out there. Today most of the pilot trained by the Navy, USMC, and Army are helo drivers
 

onthebeach

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The pilot hiring standards across the board in the helicopter industry have gone down quite a bit. This is due to several factors.

These include an increased number of jobs, especially in the EMS sector; a declining number of pilots available in the market with skills and experience levels that the industry was previously used to; and the reluctance of helicopter operators to increase pay and benefits and improve work rules, which drives many pilots out of the industry.

All that being said, however, there is no way outside of nepotism and/or cronyism to get a turbine job without 1000 or so hours of helicopter time.

Outside of the military service, the only way to get into this industry is to go the CFI route, which will take you about $35,000 and a year. Another couple of years of instructing in piston equipment *might* enable you to go to Alaska and work for a tour company in small turbine equipment. A season or two of that *might* enable you to go to work flying turbine equipment in the Gulf of Mexico, living away from your family *at least* six months out of the year and sleeping in a trailer or on an offshore platform.

Or, you could do your duty as a citizen and fly for the military...*if* they'll have you, and *if* you can hack it. Then, *if* you survive...you *might* be able to parlay your experience into a job with some semblance of normalcy of life...such as an EMS position.

The helicopter industry is not for everyone. It's a true statement to say that most people in general would be far better off staying away from aviation, and equally true that most people in aviation who are contemplating going into the helicopter field would be best advised to take a couple of aspirin and lie down until the feeling passes.
 

Goose Egg

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Interesting. Thanks for the input guys. Anyone else care to chime in?

-Goose
 

Traderd

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Goose Egg said:
Interesting. Thanks for the input guys. Anyone else care to chime in?

-Goose
I don't have direct experience with the civilian market but knew a lot of guys while I was flying in the NG that flew for a living on the outside. Some of it seemed to really suck while some seemed to be a good life. The same with everything I would expect.

The best deals I saw going were police unit operations and EMS services run by local municipalities. Great equipment, great maintenance, interesting flying and in general, some stability. The drawback of course is that these are the positions that the most qualified look for and as a result sometimes the minimums seem way out of reach for a younger guy. I know of a few guys who have had bad experiences with privately owned EMS outfits that involved buy outs and pay reductions, bad hours and such but maybe a current EMS guy can tell you if the private side OF EMS is in general a good deal or not.

Another opinion. You haven't flown a helo until you've done it with the military. It is one experience that I have never regretted.

Good luck.
 

Goose Egg

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Traderd said:
Another opinion. You haven't flown a helo until you've done it with the military. It is one experience that I have never regretted. Good luck.
Thanks Traderd. I haven't really considered the military an option because of my age (29) and my lack of uncorrected visual acuity (somewhere around 20/100.) But then again, I've been wrong before.

onthebeach said:
...enable you to go to Alaska and work for a tour company in small turbine equipment.
Do they do heli-skiing? That was my dream job as a high-schooler.

It's a true statement to say that most people in general would be far better off staying away from aviation..
If not all. But here we are.

-Goose
 
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Checks

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Here is why there is a "shortage" of pilots.

We just hired a guy from my old guard unit who used to drive trucks for a living but flew helicopters for the national guard for about 20years. i asked him how much more money he will be making now than before. He said "If I pick up some overtime days every month I should just about break even"

I am getting my CDL as a back-up plan for when I get fired, laid off, or lose my medical. Time to get CDL = 4 days. Cost = 850 bucks.
 

Goose Egg

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Checks said:
I am getting my CDL as a back-up plan for when I get fired, laid off, or lose my medical. Time to get CDL = 4 days. Cost = 850 bucks.
I've got about the same thing going on, but instead of the CDL, I'm getting an MBA. Since I am a full-time employee of the school that I am attending, the tuition is waved, although I do still have to pay for books. Cost ~ $800 bucks. Call it my hedge against a "pilot shortage."

-Goose
 

Steve

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Traderd said:
I don't have direct experience with the civilian market but knew a lot of guys while I was flying in the NG that flew for a living on the outside. Some of it seemed to really suck while some seemed to be a good life. The same with everything I would expect.

The best deals I saw going were police unit operations and EMS services run by local municipalities. Great equipment, great maintenance, interesting flying and in general, some stability. The drawback of course is that these are the positions that the most qualified look for and as a result sometimes the minimums seem way out of reach for a younger guy. I know of a few guys who have had bad experiences with privately owned EMS outfits that involved buy outs and pay reductions, bad hours and such but maybe a current EMS guy can tell you if the private side OF EMS is in general a good deal or not.

Another opinion. You haven't flown a helo until you've done it with the military. It is one experience that I have never regretted.

Good luck.
Is all of your flying time in helicopters in the NG?
 

Birdstrike

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Goose:

In some ways, the job market is the best it's ever been for non-military guys. IF you can muster the bucks to get your Commerical rating in the Robinson, the popular piston trainer, and IF you can then find a gig as an IP and build time to the 1000 hour level, perhaps less, then there is a reasonable expectation that you can land a job with one of the gulf operators like PHI or AMC. That opportunity at PHI didn't exist 10 years ago. Robbie guys were kind of disdained by the old timers because they had no turbine time. That's changed today. Those guys are flying the line at PHI and have worked out well. Plus, since PHI unionized, starting pay has gone from the low 30s where it had been stuck since the late 70s to the low 40s today. No, you're not going to get rich but it beats the starting pay at a regional. Over the long run, of course, the fixed wing guys will come out financially ahead, for the most part. There just aren't that many great corporate helo gigs available where the better bucks are found. But if you're young, single, non-military, and don't mind working 7 on and 7 off and living in a trailer, you probably have a better shot at landing a commercial helo job than at any other time in history. The justhelicopters' current openings list is more proof. Just my take.

One other point I was reminded of today...the helo industry is small and everybody knows everybody...eventually. You need to keep the name/phone/email of everyone you meet remotely associated with the industry. You don't need that as a PHI newhire, but if you ever want to fly left seat in a Bell 222 over Manhatten with a Resorts International or some such logo on the door...you only get there by knowing someone who knows someone who needs someone. Like the man said, "Ten names in your rolodex is better than 10,000 hours in your logbook" in this industry.

Best Wishes!

http://www.helicopterforums.com/employment/pilotjoblisting.asp?iChannel=10000
 
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Goose Egg

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Thanks, Birdstrike. What you've posted is a lot more congruent with what I've heard from the local heli-folk. Took my first lesson in an R-22 the other day, and it was unbelievably cool (even got the hover down for about 10 seconds!) I'm making enough with my current fixed wing instructing gig to fund some helo training, although it may take me a little while to get to the 50 hour min for the commercial add-on. I'm still thinking things over, but I've gotten a lot of good info with my research.

In any case I've got to finish up my MEI before I get serious about helis. Thanks for the input.

-Goose
 
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Goose Egg

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birdstrike said:
One other point I was reminded of today...the helo industry is small and everybody knows everybody...eventually. You need to keep the name/phone/email of everyone you meet remotely associated with the industry.
Great advice. Thanks again!

-Goose
 
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atlcrashpad

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Helo Jobs

Hey GooseEgg,

Hang in there. There are jobs out there, you just have to look. Sometimes, if not most times, it is all about being in the right place at the right time. Keep in mind that just like Viet Nam, a bunch of experienced military guys are coming back from Iraq and Afganistan.
 
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