Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:07 pm Post subject: A Wannabe looking for advice
Hi there folks! I've always found forums a great source of information in the past for other things and this seems like a nice one.
A bit of background on me then to start. I'm 25 living about half way between Bristol and Gloucester in England. For some time I've been looking into careers and what I would really like to do with my life and found myself looking up course material and losing interest, thinking about what a day to day would be like and thinking "nahh" and just generally not finding anything that really grabbed me. That is untill my dad got me a trial helicopter lesson with Heliflight at Staverton airport. Even before I went I found myself looking into being a pilot as a career and now, after the lesson, well I'm just looking to try and find out as much as possible as it appeals to me so much. The lesson was fantastic and I was amazed that I could understand how it worked, and that even doing a little bit of hovering I could keep it relatively still. I can see why many say this becomes addictive, it's certainly got me wanting more.
So I find myself looking into doing the training in how to do this professionally and get met with a wall of large fees, multiple routes, licenses and the overall feeling that if you can get to CPL, you still have a long and expensive way to go.
I've been looking at Schools in America and they do sound very appealing. A few months going from 0-CPL at a greatly reduced cost compared to the UK, then coming back here, doing what would be needed to get a CAA license and then working towards FI most likely. However it's very difficult to get good information about what converting from an FAA to CAA actually entails and what it would cost. Can anyone recommend some good schools, possibly ones that teach CAA so to avoid the conversion costs? Is learning in America really all its cracked up to be considering I most likely would like to fly here in the UK?
Can anyone reccomend any good schools in my local area (Bristol/Gloucester) or have any experience with Heliflight as a school? I keep reading that paying anything up front isn't the best idea, but if it's possible, is buying blocks of 10 which work out at an approx £500 saving worth it or a risk?
I also saw on another thread that Helicentre aviation do Career Seminars that sound interesting, but it being some way from me is there anything similar nearby? Or should I just go along anyway?
Career wise it seems that unless you know the right people and are in the right place at the right time, then FI is a common route to go down and is actually something that appeals to me generally anyway (I already teach beginners how to dance, I just don't get paid for it). I'm not so interested in the offshore oil rig type of work as it seems the large amount of extra qualifications and hours needed is really something to think about in the future. FI work, onshore charter, pleasure flights, that is the kind of thing that appeals to me in the long run.
All in all I gather that the road to making this a living is long and expensive with no guarantees. I likely face a long struggle to pay for it all and that I will need a good amount of luck on my side. But I find myself thinking if money wasn't an issue, I would be doing it anyway.
So please, any and all advice that people are willing to give me about the industry, American Flight schools, local (to me) schools and how to best approach the first step of PPL with a view to going further, would be greatly appreciated.
Just to add to the above I've some further questions that have been rattling around my brain.
The medical. If I plan to go to CPL and above, then it seems to be a good idea to get a class one at the start before paying out for anything else. Even though this is likely to lapse in the time it would take me to reach this point if I studied here, is it just to check I could make it in the long run? Assuming I will be needing yearly medicals of this level once passed, is it ok to let it lapse untill I start my CPL course?
I get that 45 hours is the minumum for PPL, and that most people suggest budgeting for 60-70 hours flight time, but are there any ways to make the per hour costs cheaper while learning other than buying in blocks of 10?
I'm not looking at this for the money, and from what I've seen, if money is all that interests me I'm looking at the wrong career, but in todays climate what can an instructor make roughly? Are they paid through the school or do many work for themselves?
At present I earn about enough to pay for about 2 lessons a month myself (assuming 280p/h) and my father has offered to help me out with an at present undisclosed amount if this is something I really wanted. However not knowing whether this will be helping to pay for the odd lesson here and there or enough to get me through my PPL, I don't want to factor him in just yet. Is 2, at max 3 lessons a month going to be enough? If I saved for a while and bought in blocks I could afford a few more per month, but again, would that be enough? Or would I be better off saving to pay for it to be done much faster?
Also, a cheeky little longshot, but it can't hurt to ask right? I'm an experienced administrator/receptionist/customer services person, any flight schools anywhere currently need someone to work in their office? I don't mind lower pay in exchange for cheaper flying lessons
I would strongly suggest that 2 lessons per month isn't a financially sensible way to learn. It is very important to keep the skills you build up current - indeed, there are restrictions all over the place on skill currency (As an example, the 90 day rule for carrying passengers.)
For my PPL, it was recommended to do around 2 hours per week. As I said on another thread, I think generally most folks seem to learn quite well at quicker rates than that, so I wouldn't go for anything less. If you need, consider delaying the start of your training until saved finances allow you to progress at a decent rate.
I paid for blocks of 10 hours - I certainly wouldn't advise against as I think it's a sensible thing to do! (Hell, who wouldn't want to save money?) Others have been caught by a company running into financial trouble - I think the point is, make a judgement on who you're handing your £3k to, and if in doubt, don't! Weigh up the risk of losing part of £3000 vs saving £100.
Regarding the medical, it is advisable to obtain a Class One before you invest lots of money into training. It wouldn't be great if you invested a chunk of money into a career, only to be prevented from following that career path because of some medical issue. If you're generally in good health it shouldn't be a problem - eyesight is something they look at closely. More info here
As you're looking to do this as a career, then you might be able to claim VAT back, which will make the overall cost cheaper.
I'm not a commercial pilot, so difficult for me to answer many other questions, or offer advice from experience! What I would suggest though, is go to a Helicopter Pilot Career Seminar event - if you're available tonight, I think Helicentre in Leicester are holding one. (Probably hosted by Helitorque's WhirlyGirl!) More details on their seminars, here
And finally, it's been a while since I mentioned it - if you're a spare few hours, have a look at my PPL training diary from ... 10 years ago ...
Joined: Aug 23, 2010 Posts: 45 Location: North Acton, London
Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:19 am Post subject:
I Went to a Helicentre Seminar in Bournemouth.
It was Amazing! I Highly Recommend it.
You get all your questions answered. _________________ GaviG Heli Enthusiast and Pilot wannabe / Gonnabe "If you always do what you've always done, you'll only get what you already got"
Thanks for that James. I've actually spent a good while reading your diary already and found it usefull, I think I stopped after about lesson 20 or so though, but I have told myself to go back to it when I have more free time.
If the Seminar with helicentre is usefull, I will have a look at the next one in September as that seems to be the last one this year. I can't make tonight, I've got to teach people which is their left foot and which is their right
After a rather long talk with my father, he has offered to at least meet me half way with costs, so factoring in buying in blocks of 10, I would be able to fly much more regularly...after a bit more saving to really get a good start. From my calculations, a block of 10 at Heliflight would probably save me about £500, so I think more than worth it. But I think it will be wise to shop around at some other schools local to me too.
If anyone can help me with the VAT claiming back thing, that would be great, at the moment I just understand it as far as "save every receipt, invoice and bit of paper that relates to anything to do with this and you have a chance".
Class 1 it is then, I will have a look into getting one when I'm getting nearer a start date. So far as I know there is nothing wrong with me that would stop me flying, so heres hoping.
I am at the same stage as you, researching like mad constantly and my mind won't think about anything other than helicopters.
I can confirm that helicentre seminars are brilliant, i went to one two weeks ago and its just pure facts about the industry and realistic costings as opposed to the bare minimum that most people show.
Have a word with Sarah their, or on here as she is very helpful and informative. Also she could help with the Vat questions too .
I am currently waiting to do a medical and find funds but somehow i will be making this work.
I do believe their is going to be a open day at helicentre on saturday the 10th of september. Please confirm this with Sarah as its not on the website yet but she mentioned it the other day.
Well I've booked myself to go on the Helicentre Seminar on the 3rd and I can't wait. The 4.5 hour round trip wont be so fun though...
At the moment I'm trying to do some reasearch on different schools around my area. So far i've come across Heliflight (where I did my trial), Cotswold Helicopters (slightly further away, they have a simulator, seem to push R44s heavily, getting a G2), Rise Helicopters (at Staverton where Heliflight are). There is also a Bristow Academy at Gloucester, but I couldn't find anything on pricing.
So does anyone know or have experience with the above schools, or have any further suggestions of schools to look into in my area.
Joined: Jul 20, 2004 Posts: 3702 Location: Birmingham, UK
Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:49 pm Post subject:
Thanks for the feedback on the seminars. Great to hear they are providing useful information!
Draxor, look forward to meeting you on Saturday. I have read through all your questions on here and every single one will be covered so don't worry. It's late, if I have time tomorrow I'll drop you an e-mail, if not then bring your list of questions along and ask away!
P.S. Open day confirmed for Saturday 10th September if anyone is interested (why not fly in, if you have a licence!) _________________ CPL(H) / FI(H) - Cabri G2, R22, S300, R44, B206
Flight Examiner (H), Ground Examiner (H)
Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:56 pm Post subject: You should also consider US Schools
Having both FAA and JAA certainly won't hurt you... in the US you can get through to CFI and begin working as an instructor to build your hours to the magical 1000+ ... then come back to the UK .. rip through the JAA and be on top of the pack for employment.
Bristow run a FAA/JAA Program and have good feeder business into their offshore work for graduating pilots.
Mauna Loa Helicopters in Hawaii is where i trained and its an amazing place to fly for half the cost of UK Schools...
If you want more info on Mauna Loa then email me.. i can send you more details, photos etc...
Well today I was lucky enough to have the day off and got an interesting call from someone at Bristow in Glos. Sadly they don't do PPL training there, but he did have some info about Bristow in America. As I want to fly in this country, I would most like to do a CAA rated course. Doing an FAA and then converting seems great, but it also sounds like an awful lot would need to be done to convert. 14 exams, check ride and hour build if needed, well it all sounds like a lot of costs.
But a course with Bristow doing CAA course, well that would mean no conversion, which would be nice. From the info I got, I could spend a year going from 0-FI and beyond and be well placed to come back here and work. If I was single and didn't have anyone else to think about, I would be jumping at the chance to do it that way. I've been to Australia for 10 months to study before, so not exactly a new thing to me. But asking my other half, who already moved from London to here to be with me, to jump the pond with me for over a year? Well that really would just be too much to ask of her.
So it seems that while something like that may well be a great course of action to those that can afford it and afford to leave home for a year or so, it probably isn't the best course for me.
At present I have minimal outgoings and I'm saving as much as I can, but if saving for a while and working while I train means it takes longer, well I think that may well just have to be it. Any Uni course would take me at least 3 years and cost about what getting to CPL would cost anyway. I know too many graduates that work in rubbish jobs even with degrees, so who wants that?
So factoring in my dads help, I've reached a rough figure on which to get started, and while im busy chewing up what that has paid for, I can save towards the rest. If I can get past my PPL, that's when the scary money starts, but one step at a time eh?
I not sure what your future plans are but I've been sending emails all over, and yesterday i received an email from Bond Helicopters, and the lady there said that at my age 24 i should go to Bristow Academy in florida and do a Jaa (European) integrated cpl course then come back to the uk, and do an instrument rating then they would find it very difficult to be able to refuse to take me on.
I don't know how likely this is but I'm just going on what Bond said, It looks as though Bristow mainly feed their new pilots with very low hours.
I can't afford to go this route, so i shall probably be doing my PPL locally and taking it from there.
Hey Clark, yeh it seems Bristow really would be an awesome route to go, cheaper, better prospects ect, but there is just no way that I could persuade my girlfriend to live out there for the approx year it would take to get to the level I would aim for. If it was just me, I would beg steal and borrow everything I could to go over there and do it that way. Even just getting to FI leve, would take some time and I just cant see it happening with the two of us out there.
Alas though, it seems I will be learning here in the UK. Im working out a rough budget to at least get me started, then take it from there. I'm lucky in that I have my dads offer of help, I hope you manage to find a way to make it work too!
Joined: Mar 29, 2006 Posts: 289 Location: Scotland
Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:49 pm Post subject:
Hi guys, what the nice lady at Bond actually means is that you will have everything they require for you to start work at Bond. Unfortunately that does not mean that you are the most attractive applicant.
Yes, it's true that they do take 0 hour pilots, one has just started at Bond very recently that came through Bristow Academy, however, they will generally look at some one with previous flying experience first as this presents less training cost/risk to them to get up to speed.
I'm not saying it won't work out for you, it may well. A top student will always get recommendations, and your reputation will follow you around this industry, but PLEASE go into this with your eyes open, knowing that you may have to build hours doing other rolls and wait around a long time for a chance at what you really want.
HW _________________ Generally wrapped in rubber, be it in the air or on the water.
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