One of the biggest barriers to helicopter pilot training is the associated costs. On average, helicopters cost two to three times more to operate, maintain, and insure, than their fixed-wing counterparts.
And those costs are passed on to you, the aspiring helicopter pilot. For this reason, many people in helicopter pilot training actually earn their fixed-wing private pilot license first and save thousands of dollars in doing so.
This is an effective training solution because about 95% of the "basics" learned during private pilot training apply equally to both the fixed-wing and helicopter categories. However, once the private pilot license is behind you, you'll be transitioning to 100% helicopter flying. Read more about helicopter pilot license.
Where to Get Helicopter Pilot Training
Since helicopter pilots are paid for their services, they must hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot license in the U.S.A. The training path to earning a commercial license in the helicopter category is typical to earn a private pilot license, then move on to earn the commercial pilot license and usually, a certified flight instructor certificate.
Unlike in the fixed-wing industry, helicopter pilots don't necessarily need to earn an instrument rating because most helicopters do not operate under instrument flight rules (IFR) or in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
Helicopter Flight Academies
One of the best ways to control costs during helicopter pilot training is to attend a helicopter flight academy that offers a package deal for earning all the required licenses, certificates, and ratings needed and offer graduates jobs as flight instructors.
These deals usually promise a flat rate for training and graduating with a certain number of flight hours, but be aware that the quoted rates are only estimates based on the "average" time taken by previous students. If you take more time to hone your skills, expect to pay more than the advertised rates.
Ways to Build Hours for Helicopter Pilots
After training, you'll need to build up flight time in order to qualify for helicopter pilot jobs. One proven method for building flight hours is to become a certified flight instructor for your helicopter school.
After graduation, you will become an instructor and begin teaching the next batch of students. Under this scenario, you will continue to learn your trade and build up your flight time, which are both critical to your long term goals as a professional helicopter pilot.