How do I Become a Helicopter Pilot?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Many helicopter pilots who are employed by civilian businesses first received their training in the military.
Many helicopter pilots who are employed by civilian businesses first received their training in the military.

Becoming a licensed helicopter pilot can be a great experience, and it can pave the way to a potential career. Helicopter pilots are needed for things like medical evacuations, scenic flight tours, and supply deliveries all over the world, and they can command a hefty salary and spend most of their time flying, rather than sitting behind a desk. For people who love flight and enjoy travel, working as a helicopter pilot can be a wonderful career. People can also pursue private licenses to fly for fun.

Military training offers an opportunity to fly a variety of aircraft in all sorts of conditions.
Military training offers an opportunity to fly a variety of aircraft in all sorts of conditions.

There are two routes people can take to become a helicopter pilot. The first involves joining the armed services to receive training, in which case they will get the training and licensing they need for free as part of their military service. The obvious drawback to this route is that it requires a commitment to several years of service, and some people are not interested in working for the military. The advantage is that military training offers an opportunity to fly a variety of aircraft in all sorts of conditions, and former military pilots are often in high demand on the private market.

The learning curve for helicopter pilots is very steep.
The learning curve for helicopter pilots is very steep.

The other option is to attend flight school and receive training from an instructor who is licensed to do so by the government agency which regulates flight schools. It's a good idea to confirm that one meets the age and health requirements of the licensing agency before pursuing training, as training can be very expensive. Students will need to pay for ground school, in which they learn about the basics of flight, and then a series of lessons with a trainer, along with solo sessions.

The Boeing Aircraft-made Apache is one type of heavy-duty military helicopter.
The Boeing Aircraft-made Apache is one type of heavy-duty military helicopter.

When people are ready to fly solo, they usually need to receive a medical examination and a flight certificate which clears them. After the requisite number of hours has been logged, the student can apply to take a licensing exam, which includes a written test and a check flight with a government official. At this point, a private helicopter pilot license is granted, and the student can take additional courses to earn professional certification.

The learning curve for helicopters is very steep. It can be tough at the beginning to learn how to handle a helicopter, but once a prospective pilot logs a few flight hours, he or she should gain confidence very quickly. Modern helicopters are extremely safe, and many are very easy to handle once one understands the basics, so students should not let early difficulties distract them from the dream of being a helicopter pilot.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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anon80309

very good and useful. well written.

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    • Many helicopter pilots who are employed by civilian businesses first received their training in the military.
      Many helicopter pilots who are employed by civilian businesses first received their training in the military.
    • Military training offers an opportunity to fly a variety of aircraft in all sorts of conditions.
      Military training offers an opportunity to fly a variety of aircraft in all sorts of conditions.
    • The learning curve for helicopter pilots is very steep.
      The learning curve for helicopter pilots is very steep.
    • The Boeing Aircraft-made Apache is one type of heavy-duty military helicopter.
      The Boeing Aircraft-made Apache is one type of heavy-duty military helicopter.