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Careers: Flying & Aviation/Questions on becoming a helicopter pilot


QUESTION: Hello Doug.

I am very interested in becoming a helicopter pilot because I love flying and helicopters have such personality and presence. I've always wanted to become a helicopter pilot for the military, but at age 39, I think that ship has sailed, which is why I am considering an alternative: civilian flying, that is, flying people to where they need to go and delivering cargo. I reside in South Florida and I would like to find good helicopter schools in my area.

1. Do you know where can I find any in my area?

2. What courses do I need to take?

3. How long will I have to be in school until I am a qualified helicopter pilot?

Best regards,


ANSWER: Hi Julian,

    I received my helicopter training in the U.S. Army.  I don't know anything about civilian schools except there are some very excellent choices.  You might want to re-ask your question but I am answering because I want to recommend an excellent website that you can scour over and find out a lot of information about everything helicopters.  It is  Find the "rotorheads" section and read to your hearts content.  Its free!  There is a shortage of helicopter  pilots in the U.S. right now but in order to get a paying job, you will have to get some FAA qualifications and get some flight time, starting as an instructor usually.  Helicopter flying is wonderful.  Cheers, Doug

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for the info. One last thing: Is there a chance that I can join the army as a helicopter pilot at my age or am I better off doing civilian flying instead?

Best regards,


Hi Julian,

    Best way to find out about the army is through a recruiter.  They should have the latest information.  If you find a recruiter who seems unfamiliar with the flight program, seek out another and another until you get an answer that sounds definitive.  Also, don't disregard the local national guard units in your state.  I have a feeling you will be doing this through the civilian path.  Merry Christmas!


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Doug Welshinger


Army Aviation, Commercial Aviation including regional and major, EMS helicopter


I flew Blackhawk helicopters for 9 years in the U.S. Army active duty and guard. I flew the SF340 and Canadair Regional Jet for Comair and the DC-9 for Northwest. I am currently flying EMS missions in BK-117 and EC-145 helicopters for Air Methods Corporation. I hold an ATP Turbojet rating, Commercial Instrument Rotorcraft and have been a CFI and MEI airplane instructor in addition to instructing in the military and in simulators.

Professional Helicopter Pilots Organization Nation EMS Pilots Association

B.S. Aviation Science Oklahoma State University U.S. Army Warrant Officer Aviation Course ATP Turbojet Commercial Instrument Rotorcraft In addition I own and operate a small business employing 70 full and part time folks not in the aviation industry.

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