Helicopter vs. Plane

TheWife

New Member
More questions from Curious George


How do helicopters and planes compare for career's?

Are the midical requirements the same or different?

How much does the price of training differ?

How does the income potential compare?

How does the job market compare?

How about the length of time it takes to get rated?

TIA
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
I can pretty much only answer one, as I've looked into it:

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How much does the price of training differ?

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Helicopters = mucho $$$$ (unless you let Uncle Sam teach you how to fly them).

The place I was looking at said I could add Rotorcraft Commercial and CFI to my existing Airplane ratings for about $16,000. Not bad I guess, but I don't have that much cash floating around at present. Someday though...
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
This is quoted from someone else...

"As a rotary instructor you can expect a SALARY (which is almost unheard of in the fixed wing world) or an hourly rate of around 35/hour. After building up around 500 hours TT Heli, you can do like me and go fly in Alaska for a summer and gain an additional 700-800 hours TURBINE…(It only pays $1k per month, but room & board are included and you get pretty hefty tips!). After you come back from doing that, you now have more than enough hours to get on as an offshore pilot making around 35-60K plus benefits. Once you gain from 2000-4000 hours Heli Time, you can then start on the EMS track. Just go to www.justhelicopters.com and look in the Pilot Employment section at all of the jobs out there for helicopter pilots. Also notice that there are jobs open out there that you don’t have to pay to look at!"

As you can see, they trained with whoever runs http://www.justhelicopters.com/. I'm really thinking hard about heading this route myself.

ESF's quote of about $16,000 sounds about right and would be similar to what this other web site says they can get you.

I believe C650 has some experience with helicopters and could probably give you some more insight.

Cheers


John Herreshoff
 

TheWife

New Member
Hmmm, interesting. So if it's about $16K for everything that's cheaper then planes. What I am wondering is if, say the medical requirements aren't as stiff etc. would it be reasonable that a person could get both plane and heli licenses, and then if there is a midical problem on planes, they can go to heli, or say the plane market is tight and not many openings, maybe a part time heli job flying for the news or something to fill in some gaps? Is this something worth eventually considering or would it likely be a poor investment?
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
That $16k is assuming you have a Commercial/CFI in Airplanes already. It would be significantly more to go from zero time to Rotorcraft CFI than it would in airplanes.

Also, medical requirements would basically be the same as airplanes.
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
Heya,


Well, there are a few things to remember here.

1. That quote is for an addon to your current fixed wing rating. That means that you need to have a commercial certificate for fixed wing planes.

2. The medical requirements are the same. You get a pilots license, and then you are certified to fly different things. Like if I were to add on a helicopter rating, I would be able to exercise the priviliages and limitations of a private pilot fixed wing and rotor craft. I would also be able to exercise the privilages of having an instrument rating in a fixed wing airplane. You have one license, and multiple things are put on it.

3. With that, the medical requirements are the same. You need to pass the same exam as fixed wing. In the eye's of the FAA an airplane is an airplane is an airplane, be it a ballon, blimp, Cessna 172, Boeing 737, or Jetranger helicopter. They all fly through the air, you just have different ratings for each things; but one pilots license and medical.

I think it's a poor investment personally, but I have my reasons for wanting to pursue this facet of aviation. I will hopefully be able to save up enough money after law school to be able to pay for the helicopter ratings so that it's really not much of a cost to me in the long run, and if it falls through I can still go through with the fixed wing route.

Cheers


John Herreshoff
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
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So if it's about $16K for everything that's cheaper then planes.

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No, 16k is in ADDITION to every thing you have done in fixed wing. If you hold a private or commercial certificate in fixed wing aircraft you can do a rotorcraft add-on which requires less time than if you were to do a helicopter rating from scratch. But you've spent all that money on fixed wing so it ends up being about the same - cost wise.

Look at it like this. The typical 172 rents for anywhere from $100-$120/hr dual. A little R-22 Robinson STARTS at about $150/hr solo - add in $30-$50 for an instructor and you're pushing $200 per hour very quickly. Helicopters are FAR more expensive than fixed wing.
 

TheWife

New Member
Ahh, ok I see. So do you intend to go for just helicopters then? And then planes would be your back up? We went on a tour over Orlando once in one, and I thought it was a lot cooler then when I went in a two seater katana (I think?).
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
heh, I have no plans, only guesses of how things are going to work out over the next couple of years. Money issues, girls and other things come into effect here.

Let's just say that law is my backup, aviation is my first plan.

Cheers


John Herreshoff
 

TheWife

New Member
Oooh $200 an hour would really add up. My son likes to watch them more then planes though, I think because they are louder. I saw one lift off the ground and then it's tail was straight up in the air and the front was FACING the ground. I thought for sure it was crashing but then husband told me that was normal stuff for a heli! Wow! I'd be loosing it if I was looking face to face with the pavement!
 

Newbie

New Member
I'm dabbling in helicopters right now after starting in fixed wings. I think I might be hooked, but it's like learning to fly all over again, with the added mental challenge of having to overcome fixed wing habits. Scary, but very fun (and yes, more expensive). For what it's worth, I've been told that a fixed wing background (even just a PPL) makes a helo instructor very attractive to helo flight schools, because it helps them relate better to the challenges fixed wingers face as they train in helos. For instance, as you noted, the idea of pointing your nose down to the ground to TAKE OFF(!) goes against every fiber of my being. And get this..in an R22 (a standard trainer), when you get to 15 knots, you point your nose down EVEN MORE until you hit 40 knots. The departure pressure inputs are all backwards, and I still can't shake the feeling that I'm doing something REALLY stupid every time I do it.
Also, you bleed off airspeed as you bleed of altitude in the final approach...which also can drive a fixed wing pilot batty, as it's completely against everything you're taught in fixeds. Then there's the part about "add power, add left pedal" (as opposed to adding right rudder when you add power in fixeds)...my left foot is SO lazy! Also, no coordinated turns or increased back pressure in turns...you just move the stick to the side (and forward(!) believe it or not) and tell your feet to stay still...weird (I took an intro flight with one helo instructor who was not dual rated...I moved the stick, put in some pedal to coordinate, and almost whipped us around backwards. He freaked out and I explained that I was trying to make a coordinated turn and he looked at me like I had 3 eyes...I don't think he even knew what the phrase meant). And hovering...won't EVEN begin to talk about that...like trying to balance a marble on a marble on a marble in a hurricane (and it looks so easy from the outside, alas! Where's the damn hover button!!?? But when it finally clicks, it's the closest thing to pure zen ever, IMHO...talk about being present in the moment). And hey, you can't beat the Vx (zero KIAS!). I knew I finally had found the right instructor (he had a fixed wing background too) when he said "aerodynamically, a helicopter is basically just an airplane without wings hanging in the air by its nose..slow flight on steroids...pitch for airspeed, power for altitude...that's all there is to it." I'm going to try to instruct in both, eventually, if I can, because I think there are wonderful lessons to be learned and experiences to be had from both.
 

flyitup

Well-Known Member
I've always had a desire to learn how to fly choppers too. I think it would be really cool to be a medic pilot. Does anyone know how exactly they find random accident sites? GPS coordinates? Very interesting...
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
My understanding is GPS coordinates, at least the way it's been described to me. I imagine cops/abulance drivers cary those things around and can give the pilot what they need to know.
 

flyitup

Well-Known Member
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My understanding is GPS coordinates, at least the way it's been described to me. I imagine cops/abulance drivers cary those things around and can give the pilot what they need to know.

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That's the only thing I can think of that would make sense. Talk about difficult flying though... Those guys have power lines, roads, and all kinds of weird obstructions to deal with...
 

CK

Well-Known Member
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I've always had a desire to learn how to fly choppers too. I think it would be really cool to be a medic pilot. Does anyone know how exactly they find random accident sites? GPS coordinates? Very interesting...

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My dad is a chopper pilot for the State Police and they have a big screen (pretty much a computerized road map) on the left side of the panel with a keyboard that shows all the roads in the country. They type in the address and fly right too it. Atleast that's my understanding of it. I've never really asked him and he's in Canada for the day (man I love saying that to people, ''My dad went up to Canada today, but he'll be home for dinner
.'') so when he gets back I'll get him to answer any questions you have. Then again C650CPT is also an experienced helicopter pilot so I'm sure he'd be glad to answer any questions.
 

TallFlyer

Well-Known Member
You know, I'd love to do the rotary route but being 6'7" doesn't help a whole lot in that area. And the outfit in Alaska someone mentioned actually wants 1000 TT in helos, but then they do train you in turbines and you go fly over glaciers for 5 months or so. TEMSCO is their name and they're in Juneau. I was there this summer working for a whale watching outfit, and our dock was right under the route that they took to the glacier. Every now and then you'd hear them, and look up and there would be like 4 AStars playing follow the leader. Nifty...

CJ
 

Sprint100

Well-Known Member
I have started to get more interested in becoming a helicopter pilot. From working at an FBO and being around helicopters and planes, helicopters seem to edge out planes in the job market, that's just my perception don't know if it was accurate or not.
In fact, I do plan to start getting those heli add-ons early next year. Not to get a job, but just because I love flying and would love to have the option of flying planes or helicopters.
 

C650CPT

Well-Known Member
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More questions from Curious George


Good questions as Helicopters don't get much attention. I have flown Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing both in the Military and in Civilian life so I will try to put in perspective your questions and give you my Opionions.

How do helicopters and planes compare for career's?

A: Both are valid career choices, allbeit few can merge the two into one career. I explain that a helicopter career is a local job, home every night, where a fixed wing career is a broader scope of experience, you get to see the country and possibly the world. You will spend time away from home, how much depends on the type of flying you do and the company. A rule of thumb is: the bigger the airplane, the bigger your suitcase is.

Are the midical requirements the same or different?

A: Yes, the same. There is absolutely no difference, or advantage being a fixed wing or rotorary wing pilot.


How much does the price of training differ?

A: ALOT. In fact for anyone interested in a Helicopter career I would recommend they do all the fixed wing rateings first and then do the helicopter stuff as an add on rateing. It will save money in the long run plus give you dual rateings, which equalls options down the road should you need them.

How does the income potential compare?

A: The single biggest difference is the money. Fixed wing pilots will always make more money than helicopter pilots. My last job was as Captain on a Bell 222 ( ie: air wolf ) and on a Citation 550. As a dual rated pilot I was makeing about 15K more than the Helicopter only pilots at the local hospital. When I left Helicopters all together my salary went up another 20K flying a Citation 650 swept wing jet. So the money is in bigger / faster more complex fixed wing aircraft. That being said the important thing is to do what you like, I know a lot of helicopter pilots who love flying helos so much they never wanted a fixed wing job. They think its routine and boring. I do miss helicopters but I will never go back to flying them as my main job. Each to his/her own.


How does the job market compare?

A: There are more airplane jobs than helicopter jobs. What helicopter jobs are out there are usually networked through the small helicopter community and that is primarily made up of Military pilots. Insuarance drives this business and no where is that more true than in helicopters, they are inherantly more dangerous requiring a higher degree of risk management than fixed wing. It would be foolish to think oneself marketable in the helicopter world with experience consisting of dual given in a R-22 ( reciprocating engine ) when there will pilots with many more hours of Military Turbine time and life experience / Maturity competing for the same job.


How about the length of time it takes to get rated?

A: All things considered going straight helicopter -vs- fixed wing should take no longer, but if you consider going fixed wing first then helicopter it will add about 35% more time to any plans.

TIA


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