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Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of jobs are out there for helicopter flying, what type of flying will I do?

There are all kinds of jobs out there for helicopter pilots right now that are located in all parts of the country and the world. For example; corporate transportation, search and rescue, EMS, police, fire fighting, ENG (Electric News Gathering), etc.

What kind of salary can I expect to make flying helicopters?

When choosing to fly helicopters for your career you can expect to start off as an instructor. Instructing usually lasts for about a year with an income of $25,000 to $35,000. Ultimately, depending on the field you want to get into, a salary of $80,000 up to and over $100,000 is obtainable.

Do I have to have a college education in order to be hired as a pilot?

No, a college degree is not necessary. While flight training, you focus all of your educational time on how to fly and on course material that is relevant to the flying environment. However, having a college degree is not a detriment to obtaining a flying job either; a few flight departments consider it a benefit.

How long will it take to complete my training?

The private pilot’s license typically takes 2-6 months depending on the student’s availability and learning curve. The Commercial license can take up to a year and the CFI usually 2 months. From no experience to a Certified Flight Instructor takes on average 1 ½ to 2 years at which time you’re employable.

How long will it take to build my hours before a company will hire me?

The required hours for employment are based on what you are interested in doing. For most Tour/Sightseeing jobs or Off Shore Oil Transportation the minimum is 1000 hours. This will take about one year from the point you finish your training. From there 2000 to 3000 hours can get you into EMS, ENG or Corporate Transportation.

Would it be to my advantage to have my helicopter ratings as well as airplane ratings?

While having both ratings on your resume may help you obtain a job with certain companies, there is by no means a requirement to be airplane rated to advance as a helicopter pilot.

Would it be less expensive for me to get my fixed wing ratings before I learn to fly helicopters?

Generally no, the costs will even out most of the time because you are forced to learn new maneuvers and procedures that are different than flying an airplane. It is easier to transition to an airplane from a helicopter than the other way around. We have many graduates of our program that did have their airplane rating first, and we always welcome add-on rating students.

What kind of health conditions could prevent me from getting my medical?

As long as you can correct your vision to 20/20 or near 20/20 with glasses or contact lenses, you can obtain a medical. Some examples of what will prevent you are diabetes that requires insulin, coronary heart disease, or certain mental conditions.

Will a DWI or DUI prevent me from flying?

In most cases no, but there will be more scrutiny placed on you during your medical and your flight exam. Typically a DWI or DUI does not prevent you from flying a helicopter.

Are there weight restrictions?

Helicopters are sensitive to weight and balance. The R22 can carry up to 240 pounds per seat, but we recommend being no more than 220 pounds. The R44 can carry up to 300 pounds per seat; again we recommend that the passenger/student weigh no more than 260 pounds. These numbers are based on fuel, balance, flight time, etc.

What happens if the helicopter engine quits while I am flying?

In the unlikely event of an engine failure, the pilot performs an autorotation. This is a condition of flight where the rotor system is powered by the upward air flow and not the engine. The helicopter is able to land in most locations due to its maneuverability.

How often should I train per week to make the best progress?

We recommend 3 days a week, roughly 2 hours a day. We suggest that if the student is not able to keep that pace that they fly once a week at a minimum to maintain proficiency. In addition to actually flying and receiving ground training, self study and time to absorb your experiences between lessons is an essential part of the learning process.

Do I need my own insurance when I fly?

Typically the flight school carries insurance that covers you, however, they may require you to obtain aircraft damage insurance or deductible insurance to cover the cost of damages incurred up to the deductible.

After I have my license can I rent the helicopter?

Most Helicopter Flight schools do not allow rental of the helicopter. At Independent Helicopters we allow our student’s, graduates and rated pilots to rent the helicopters. If you have not been a student or graduate of Independent Helicopters we require a 5 hour check out for insurance purposes.

How fast can the helicopter fly?

The Robinson R22 can fly 102 Knots (118 MPH) but we typically cruise at 80 Knots (85 MPH).
The Robinson R44 can fly 130 Knots, but we cruise at 110 knots usually.

How many people can the helicopter carry?

The R22 will carry a pilot and one passenger, plus up to 50 pounds of baggage in each seat.
The R44 will carry a pilot and three passengers, plus up to 50 pounds of baggage in each seat.

Will the GI benefits pay for flight training?

Only Approved Part 141 Flight schools are able to receive VA benefits. Independent Helicopters has approved by the FAA and we are waiting for the process to be complete with the VA. We also work with Utah Valley University. They offer an online degree program for professional pilots and accept financial aid, scholarships and VA benefits.

How can I get financing?

There are many scholarships available and Sallie Mae works with most students to provide them funding for Flight training. Pilot Finance is another company that is very familiar with flight training financing. You can find more information on our website: www.independenthelicopters.com.

How does scheduling work?

We accommodate any schedule and are very flexible with mornings and evenings. Currently, we have 4 instructors who are able to meet the needs of our students. Most schedules need to be booked a week in advance, but occasionally we are able to arrange something within 24-hour notice.