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Are You A Helicopter Or Airplane Pilot. Learn About Each Pilot’s Career Path

Are You A Helicopter Or Airplane Pilot. Learn About Each Pilot’s Career PathYou know you have a passion to fly. To begin training to be a pilot, you also need to know what you want to fly and the type of flying you want to do. Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for getting a pilot’s license (certificate) differ depending on the type of aircraft you fly. You can choose among airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons, or airships. You should also think about what type of flying you want to do. In this blog, we will cover flight training and job opportunities for helicopter and airplane pilots.

Flying a helicopter is completely different from flying an airplane, but that doesn’t mean it’s any harder. Airplanes and helicopters have many commonalities and differences.

Key Differences Between Helicopter and Airplane Pilots

The main difference is the obvious one; Airplanes and Helicopters are completely different machines with different flight characteristics, capabilities and missions. Job opportunities and variety of it may be different but flight training to become a helicopter or airplane pilot is the same. It all begins with a flight school where you train for your new career. Both Helicopter and Airplane Pilots undergo similar flight training in order to receive the ratings necessary to launch a career. Upon completion of your flight training, you will be presented with a few options. Airplane Pilots may find themselves doing Arial Towing of Advertising Banners, Crop Dusting or a similar line of work in order to gain the experience necessary to take their career to an Airline. Helicopter Pilots generally follow a career track of first becoming a Certified Flight Instructor teaching students as they continue to hone their skills and build their flight time. Becoming an Instructor is also an option for the Airplane Pilot as well. Either way, you will need to land your first entry level piloting job in order to progress your career.

Which Career Path is For You?
Helicopter Pilot Opinion.

This is where there’s a key difference between Helicopters and Airplanes. As a current Helicopter Instructor Pilot,

I will do my best to not be biased here…difficult as that may be! Once you build your time and get the required 1500 hours as an airplane pilot you will need to get what the FAA calls an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, known as your ATP. This is a requirement for Airplane Pilots in order to begin working for Air Carrier operators. Once you are there, you can enjoy a lucrative career as an Airline Pilot working for a major Air Carrier hauling passengers or cargo. This can prove to be an excellent career. Now here comes the Helicopter Pilot in me: do you want to fly straight line distances at 30,000 feet on autopilot, or do you want to FLY in a dynamic environment? You have to ask yourself what type of flying you actually want to be doing.

Pilot Training

The first step in Airplane Flight Training is to get a Private Pilot License (PPL), followed by a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). Pilots with PPL in hand can enjoy flying but cannot get paid to transport. CPL license allows you to get paid for transporting passengers.

Learning to fly is a matter of acquiring aeronautical knowledge, flight proficiency, and experience. Think of the process of earning a recreational or private pilot certificate as a series of steps. Some steps, such as aeronautical knowledge, can be integrated throughout your training process. Others, like solo training, come when your instructor has provided the required training and he or she decides that you are ready. The process can be broken down into the following subjects:

Aeronautical Knowledge and FAA Knowledge Test
  • Pre-solo training
  • Solo training
  • Cross-county training (for private pilots)
  • Solo cross-county training (for private pilots)
  • Practical Test preparation
  • Practical Test

Every hour you earn adds to airline flight training. Some aviation careers pay a lot better than others, and each promise different lifestyles. Think about where you would like to be in 20 years. This will help you with your decisions now and in the future.

To land a job as a pilot you need to ake any job you can get in an aviation company, even if it does not involve flying at first. Stay positive, work hard and work on your skills to show it off. In aviation, networking is paramount, and people help people they know, like and trust.

Airline flight training never ends, even once in the airline there will always be another aircraft to convert to, requiring weeks of training.

As a Commercial Pilot you may work for an Airline, or a Charter Company, and the company’s consideration is made based on whether you have an Instrument and Twin Engine rating, preferably turbine or jet time as well. If you want to progress up the ranks, you will have to get your Airline Transport Pilots License. Although “Airline Pilot” is the most thought of job associated with the word “pilot” it is not the only one in aviation field.

Helicopter Job Opportunities

There are some truly exciting jobs open to helicopter pilots. In the civilian area, there are opportunities with law enforcement, TV and radio news, traffic reporting, hospital patient transport, aerial photo, agricultural spraying, offshore oil work, heavy-lift, sightseeing, fire fighting, fish-spotting, pilot flight training, and corporate transportation — just to name a few.

State and Federal governmental agencies also employ helicopter pilots for conservation, forestry, survey, research, search and rescue, etc. U.S. agencies like Customs, the Border Patrol, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the FBI, and others hire (and sometimes train) professional helicopter pilots.

In the military area, all branches of the Armed Forces train helicopter pilots for a wide variety of jobs. The Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard all use helicopters in their day-to-day missions not only for combat and troop transport, but for search-and-rescue, anti-submarine patrols, and moving troops and material. Source

Possible Career Paths for the Experienced Helicopter Pilot
  • EMS Pilot
  • Pipeline Patrol Pilot
  • Offshore Oil Rig Pilot
  • Air Tour Pilot
  • Charter Pilot
  • Logging Pilot
  • Bush Pilot
  • Border Patrol
  • Local, State or Federal Law Enforcement
  • Professional Instructor Pilot


Airline Pilot Jobs and Opportunities

Pilots who earn a living at the “majors,” such as United, American, Delta, and Federal Express, fly large jet equipment such as Boeing’s 737, 757, and 777. The average salary for a major airline pilot is in the $100,000 range, with senior captains flying mega-size airplanes (i.e., Boeing 747/400) earning up to $200,000 annually. For flying professionals associated with the “regionals,” smaller turboprop airplanes are the norm. Entry-level salary for a commuter pilot is invariably in the $20,000 to $25,000 range; a captain on a new regional jet can earn $70,000 to $110,000 annually with seniority.

Major airlines, the companies that are most highly desired and attract the most competitive candidates, will require in the neighborhood of 1,500 to 3,000 flight time hours and about 300 to 500 hours of multiengine time for application acceptance. Additionally, a four-year college degree is virtually a must because more than 80 percent of pilots interviewed had at least a four-year degree.

Most regional airlines require about 1,500 total hours, including 500 hours in multiengine airplanes. However, a few companies have been known to hire applicants with only 1,000 hours of total flight time and 100 hours of multiengine experience. Although a college degree is helpful, it is not a requirement.

Licenses Needed for Pilot Careers

Airline Pilot (CPL okay, but will need ATLP eventually)
Corporate Pilot (CPL okay, ATLP recommended)
Fire Spotter Pilot (VFR CPL)
Survey Pilot (VFR CPL)
Charter Pilot (CPL to ATPL)
Flight Instructor (CPL, ATPL for DE qualification required)
Medical evacuation Pilot (IF CPL minimum)
Fire Bomber Pilot (VFR CPL)
Crop Sprayer/Agricultural Pilot (VFR CPL)
Crop Sprayer / Agricultural Pilot (VFR CPL)
Contract Pilot (IF CPL minimum)
Aerobatic Display Pilot (VFR PPL / CPL)
Bush Pilot (VFR CPL)
Police Pilot (VFR CPL minimum)
Nature Conservation Pilot (VFR PPL / CPL)
Airforce Pilot.(Military qualification, in-house)

Pilot School Locator
Aviator Flight School Pro Pilot Program

The programs at Aviator Flight School are designed to provide what the airline industry demands of future commercial pilots. The training you will receive at Aviator is one of the most intensive and challenging programs offered in aviation flight training today.

During your flight training you will fly a total of 259 hours, of which up to 200 hours will be in a multi-engine aircraft. The ground school portion is in a structured classroom environment. As the shortage of pilots continues to grow, Aviator College is consistently meeting with major air carriers to determine the flight training and education that they require.
You will receive a minimum of 643 instructional hours for the Professional Pilot Program.The instructional hours includes all ground and flight training. 6 months of housing is included in the price of the program. If you come with a Private Pilot License 5 months will be included in the price of the Program.

Schedule Visit
Contact Aviator

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