How to Become a Helicopter Pilot

There are two ways to become a helicopter pilot, the first way involves joining the military. The civilian route, however, allows you to become your journey to the skies at just 16 years old. Before you even think about becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, you need to secure a private license. You will need to be 17 before you are eligible for a commercial license.

There are some medical issues that could exclude you from getting a CPL license, as all pilots need to undergo a medical exam that is provided by a physician that is approved by the FAA. If you have heart problems, a history of drug abuse, psychological disorders, hearing or vision problems then these could all see you excluded. Have your optometrist give you a test to check your color vision, color blindness will also exclude you. You can find approved physicians on the FAA website.

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Flight School Costs

There is one key question that comes when discussing helicopter school, how much is flight schoolgoing to set me back? Well, it’s going to set you back at least $10,000 and then another $18,000 for the CPL training. Add to that the $200 an hour to get flying hours in with an instructor, then the written exam cost of $300 and the $500 for the flight exams. It’s not quite as expensive as going to college, and it leads to a good salary. It would be fair to point out that while you don’t need a degree, it could assist you in getting a higher paid job.


How much does a helicopter pilot make? Well, when you’re just starting out you can expect to command a salary of around $50,000 but that can rise to as much as $119,000. There are a number of cities where you can command a higher salary, so if you already live in one of these cities, or you’re happy to relocate, head to San Diego, California, New York City, New York, Lafayette, Louisiana or Savannah, Georgia.

Before you take your private licence test you need to have 40 hours’ flight experience, 10 of which include solo flights, and the written exam consists of up to 50 questions to pass you need to achieve a 70%. The exam will cover functions of the aircraft, and procedural points like instrument proficiency checks, and instrument rating requirements, as well as what to do in a crisis.

To secure your commercial license you need 150 solo hours logged, so you may need to find a school that offers helicopter hire for a fair price. Helicopter prices for rental run a minimum of $50, you usually book in blocks, though, so expect to pay more upfront.

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Types of Helicopters

There are two types of helicopter: single engine, like the Bell 206L LongRanger, and twin engine, like the AS355 Twin Squirrel. The fastest helicopter is the Eurocopter X3; it’s a military aircraft and thehelicopter speed it reaches 302 miles per hour. When you consider how high a helicopter can fly you have to remember that the cabins aren’t pressurised which limits the altitudes it can reach- the average is around 10,000 feet.

Now that you’re on your way to becoming a helicopter pilot, it’s time to get your helicopter helmetcustomized. You could even go into helicopter training and start your own business.



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