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12 things that every future career minded helicopter pilot should know.

Posted 14 years 149 days ago ago by Admin

By Lyn Burks - A common question that gets asked from potential pilots here at Justhelicopters.com is, “What can I expect by becoming a helicopter pilot?” Along with the usual comments, “I hear the pay is bad”….”I hear that you must pay your dues”….”How fast can I expect to move up the chain?”……and so on.
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A common question that gets asked from potential pilots here at Justhelicopters.com is, “What can I expect by becoming a helicopter pilot?” Along with the usual comments, “I hear the pay is bad”….”I hear that you must pay your dues”….”How fast can I expect to move up the chain?”……and so on.

The following is an excerpt from a post on the Justhelicopters.com Forum that not only attempts to answer this question, but actually fits nicely into the category of “12 things that every future career minded helicopter pilot should know.” They are really just some rough (and rawly written) rules to live by in the helicopter business. Glean from them what you would like.

The post went on to say:

You can expect to accomplish whatever it is that you desire. Your question really has the answer...or at least part of it. You used the word "expect". Well let me ask you a question.....what are your expectations? What exactly do you think you want? (Mark my words , what you say you think you want today is not what you will end up wanting or getting!)

So , what do you want? Money? To fly a certain Aircraft? Stability? Travel? Fly a certain mission....logging , EMS , corporate , SAR , ENG , combat? Be specific.

I say this....I do not care what you want to do.....no matter how impossible it may seem or how impossible the naysayers say it is......YOU CAN DO, AND HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT FROM THIS BUSINESS. That is a fact my friend. Do not let anyone tell you that because you begin flying an R22 that there is no way you will ever Captain a B412 EMS or a B430 Corporate or a BV107 slinging logs in some far way land or in an S76 screaming down an ILS to minimums somewhere in NYC. It can be done; all it takes is some patience, persistence, and a little knowledge.

Here are some very simple commons sense ingredients that will create your recipe for success:

1. Be humble every where you go....no one likes a bragger. Let your skill and actions speak for you, not so much your mouth.

2. Always learn from the mistakes of others and always be willing to admit when you make a mistake and learn from it. Nobody likes a hardhead know-it-all.

3. Never stop going to school or seeking continuing education. Keep striving for every rating...every seminar....more college.....recurrent training. It is all about development in both your career and personal life. Some guys have 30 years of experience , but have lived the same year 30 times. Keep striving for more.

4. Project a positive attitude wherever you go. I should make this #1 on this list. Ask any employer...attitude is at the top of everyone's list. I would rather work with a person that has a positive attitude and still has a few things to learn than a person that really knows everything but their attitude stinks. Bad attitudes are infectious and can tear up an operation. This single attribute WILL get you further along in this business that any other.

5. Work hard and always give a little more than expected.

6. Be honest with yourself and everyone around you. If you screw up and think you had a hot start...admit it. Do not lie about anything....if you do it will come around and bite your butt and word will be out that you are a liar. Having a reputation for being an honest guy that has made a mistake will not keep you from getting a job. Having a reputation of being a LIAR will keep you from getting a job.

7. Network , network , network.

8. DO NOT BURN BRIDGES....unless it is unavoidable. This is a very small industry and everyone talks....ESPECIALLY the Directors of Operations. They have an unwritten code regarding these things. A good Chief Pilot once said to me , the guy whose toes you are stepping on today , may be the guy whose butt you are kissing tomorrow. Sad but so true!

9. Always , always remember...YOUR career is built upon YOUR reputation. In most cases , how you are to be perceived in this business rests on your shoulders. The piloting aspect is not what causes most problems for pilots. That part is easy for most of us. The problems usually come when the pilot has to speak or interact with coworkers or supervisors. All I can say is this (from a man standpoint)....when presented with a situation....think with your BRAINS and not your BALLS first , THEN speak. You ever hear the phrase..."don't cut off your nose to spite your face?" Most of us have , but take ego + type A + pride + testosterone - a few brain cells and that phrase gets erased from memory and something real stupid happens. BOTTOM LINE: No matter where you go in this business , you must learn , understand , master , and play the GAME!

10. SEEK out opportunities and when they do present themselves , JUMP on them with both feet and do not look back.

11. Never forget where you came from OR those that saw something in you and gave you that big "CHANCE". Trust me, many big chances WILL come along. You are going to need and get help from many along the way. Just DON'T forget it and repay them by doing a good job and helping others along the way when you get the chance.

12. Find out what type of work you want to do and who you think you want to work for. THEN find out everything that you can about the company. THEN find out who are the people that make the decisions. THEN go and meet them and learn a little about their operation. THEN make your decision on whether it is the right place for you and that you can accept what they are offering. THEN show them your eagerness to work for them and try and convince them that you are the best guy for the job. THEN once you get that job , LIVE by concepts 1 thru 11.

Follow #1-12 and your track CAN be:
Trained up and job ready in 1 to 1.5 years
CFI/CFII for 1-2 years
Turbines in 2-4 years
Twin Turbines in 5-10 years
Any mission you want in 5-10 years
Any aircraft you want in 5-10 years
Want the most money or best schedule or best retirement.....find out whose got it , what qualifications they require , who does the hiring and go for it with a never ending persistence.

OR still live by 1-12 and serve your Country’s Armed Forces and in return they may pay you to do all of the above from day one.

The Sky is the Limit. The only limits you will have are the ones that you place on yourself , not by the naysayers!

Best of luck in your helicopter endeavors!

This excerpt was taken from a post written by Lyn Burks, an EMS Pilot and owner of Justhelicopters.com. It was recommended by several visitors that this excerpt be placed in this section of the site.