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A helicopter flight instructor is responsible for teaching students to fly a helicopter. Both ground school and the actual flight instruction fall under the responsibility of a helicopter flight instructor. Often, an established and licensed helicopter pilot will decide to become an instructor. The additional training to become an instructor is given by a certified helicopter flight instructor. Many flight instructors share time between helicopter and airplane flight instruction, which requires that the instructors be certified in both types of aircraft.
Often, the first step in a student's interest in becoming a pilot comes as a result of a first flight. In many cases, this first flight in a helicopter comes via a certified helicopter flight instructor. The instructor will take the passenger on a flight and will occasionally allow the passenger to take control of the aircraft. This is, however, limited control as the instructor seldom gives up total control of the craft to an untrained operator. The helicopter flight instructor attempts to satisfy the passenger's interest in becoming a licensed pilot, often transforming a passenger into a potential student.
Most flight schools require students to complete ground school training. In this component of training, the helicopter flight instructor educates students on weather conditions, and the controls and flight properties of the helicopter. Other areas of great importance that are covered in the ground school portion of pilot training include learning to read topographical maps and learning how to identify tall structures, such as antennas, trees and water towers. All of the tallest objects in a given area are clearly listed on a pilot's map. The student must be educated in the dangers of coming into contact with power lines and antennas as well as any emergency action that must be taken if incidental contact is made with one of these objects.
Once the ground school portion has been completed, the instructor will lead students through the actual flying portion of the training. During this period, the instructor will have the students ride along on a helicopter flight and learn the many capabilities of the aircraft. As the students progress through training, the helicopter flight instructor will allow the students to take over control of the craft and attempt to fly. During this period, the instructor commonly maintains a grip on the controls in order to overcome any emergency condition that might occur during the student's flight. Once a student has completed the entire training session, and has demonstrated the proper level of knowledge to safely operate a helicopter, the flight instructor will allow the student to perform a solo flight.
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