Becoming a forestry fire pilot is an extensive and dedicated process. Before beginning flight school, you must first meet the criteria for your specific state. Most states require those learning to become pilots to be at least 18 years of age and have earned a GED. If you meet these basic requirements, it is recommended you contact a helicopter flight school about their programs and become enrolled in one specific to forestry training. Training to become a helicopter pilot can be rigorous and physically demanding, so you will need to be in excellent physical shape. You will also need to pass aptitude and physical tests before continuing to your certifications.
Being a forestry pilot requires a commercial pilot’s certification and learning advanced skills, regulations, and techniques to prepare you for a fire fighting career. Within this program, you must first earn student and private pilot’s certifications before moving on to the commercial course. To participate in the commercial course, you must speak and read English easily and have your private license. To pass commercial certification, you will have to meet the minimum requirements of flight time and training specified by the FAA (150 hours of flight time) as well as pass oral, written and flight tests given by the FFA. It is also helpful to understand safety procedures and regulations, as well as be capable of performing necessary maintenance on helicopters. After certifications and training, helicopter pilots are required to fly over numerous types of terrain while aiding in vegetation management, flame suppression, and fire prevention.
Those seriously considering becoming forestry fire pilots will need to keep calm under pressure as they will be the eyes of the firefighters on the ground below and be responsible for the environment and people relying on them. Once hired, you may undergo more on the job training but different states can require different certifications and flight time hours, so it is suggested to do as much as you can while certifying, so that you are more hirable.
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