How to Become a Helicopter Pilot

You need to undergo a specific training in order to become a helicopter pilot. Once you become a helicopter pilot, the career is more exciting and fun filled compared to other career opportunities. The salary of a helicopter pilot is also attractive. A commercial helicopter pilot can earn about $100,000 annually. Detailed information on becoming a helicopter pilot is given below.

Basic Requirements

  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • You should know how to speak, read, and write English.
  • Should be medically fit, and should posses perfect the eye sight.
  • Should have completed specific number of flight hours for different kind of pilot jobs.

Before Becoming a Helicopter Pilot

  • Ensure that you really have an aptitude for flying machines. This can be determined by undertaking Pilot Aptitude Test or by enrolling in a trial helicopter lessons class.
  • Work towards your physical and mental fitness before you become a professional helicopter pilot.
  • Make sure that you have enough financial resources or funding to undertake the training. The whole process from training to procuring a Commercial Pilot License can cost you around $50,000.

Licensing / Certification Requirements

All licenses and certificates required for flying helicopters are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

  • No license is necessary to take flying classes.
  • Student Pilot Certificate is required if one wants to fly the helicopter solo. To get a Student Pilot certificate one should have a Third-Class Medical Certificate.
  • Private Pilot Helicopter License is required for flying helicopter anytime, anywhere. This licensing requires at least 40 helicopter flight hours (preferably 60 hours). This licensing also includes a written, oral and flight tests.
  • Commercial Rotorcraft License is necessary to become a professional pilot. This helps in flying or taking paid passengers. Thus, this license is essential if you want to be a commercial helicopter pilot. The test that needs to be undertaken for this license includes a complete physical health check-up and a second class medical certificate.
  • Certified Flight Instructor license is essential to become a flight instructor. This certification is required only for those who want to pursue the career of a flight instructor.

Usually, prospective employers demand at least 100 hours of flying experience before enlisting your services. If you have experience of flying helicopter during your armed forces career, that will certainly give you an edge over others in many ways.  

Different Helicopter Pilot Jobs

The options are almost unlimited for a helicopter pilot. Following are few of them -

  • Helicopter Flight Instructor
  • Test pilot
  • Fire fighter
  • Rescue pilot
  • Coast guard's helicopter pilot
  • Off-shore supporter
  • Commercial helicopter pilot for sightseeing, agriculture or utility support.
  • Air Ambulance helicopter pilot
  • Cargo lifting
  • News media
  • Photography
  • Aerial surveying

You can join one of the available aviation companies providing helicopter charter services or choose to work as a charter pilot for different clients.