Before you start your flight training, take a look over these items and take them into consideration before moving forward with your Helicopter Career:
- Make sure you qualify for an FAA Medical Certificate (at least 3rd class for Private)
- Be able to present a passport or birth certificate
- Do your research! Decide what program is best for you, your family and your budget.
Commit to the program.
The longer you go between flights and ground sessions, the longer it will take you to complete the program and maybe more importantly, the more money you will spend.
Discuss it with your family.
You and they should know that this is a career choice and there will be a major time commitment involved both at the flight school and at home.
Be wary about giving large sums of money to flight schools.
Some schools will offer special deals and discounted rates for buying time at “block rates” (discounted hourly rates for pre-buying 10, 15, 20 hours). Flight schools are not banks and will often not hold your money in escrow after you pay them. Often time’s students will put down tens of thousands of dollars without even signing a contract or sign a contract that leaves them with no outs if they decide to train someplace else or need to get their money back.
When visiting a flight school, ask about the maintenance program.
Are helicopters routinely down for maintenance at the school you are looking at? A flight school may have several helicopters in their hanger but they may be in line for maintenance and could be grounded for weeks at a time. Ask to see the aircraft logbook to see if it has flown recently and if hasn’t, ask why.
It’s illegal for flight schools to guarantee jobs as instructors as incentive for students to attend their school.
If a school says this or even hints at this, they are just trying to take your money. Instead of “taking their word for it,” ask the flight instructors at the flight school where they learned to fly and why they are instructing at that school.
Look around the flight school and see if there are quiet places to study.
Often times flight schools will have an open hanger environment which is nice for socializing, but bad for learning and focusing. Make sure there are separate areas for socializing and studying so you can make sure you’re getting the most for your money and best experience possible.
Take a look at the aircraft.
The helicopters themselves are usually the selling point for a school with new students. A lot of schools will run helicopters that are 10, 20 and even 30 years old! If you can find a school with newer aircraft you will be exposed to newer helicopter models, better safety, newer technology and better comfort during your time as a student.