Flight training is something very special. Being able to share my passion and knowledge of flying with someone else is what makes this job so enjoyable and rewarding. I am continually amazed day in and day out by the people I get to meet and train. Whether you are 16 or 86 or from any walk of life, I am confident that with time and patience, you could learn to fly a helicopter. This post is aimed at people who may be on the fence about training, and I hope to answer some common questions that people have before getting started.
What I highly encourage before deciding to take the plunge into helicopters, is an intro flight. This 30-minute or hour-long experience is designed for you to have an enjoyable introduction into helicopters, and for you to decide if this is something that is really for you. With each intro flight, I like to talk with you and try to understand your background and your goals. We will also cover some of the base knowledge that is necessary before flying a Robinson R22 or R44. After a bit of learning and explanation, we will be ready to fly.
As soon as we get up in the air, you will take the controls (under close supervision of course)! Even if you decide that flying a helicopter is not for you, you will always be able to say that you did it! I am confident, however, that it will be an experience you will never forget. I still vividly remember my own intro flight and how amazing it was. I recommend that before coming for an intro flight, you try and familiarize yourself a little bit with the basics of how a helicopter works online, but it is by no means required.
When you’ve decided you are ready to begin flight training, many people ask what they need to get started. The answer is nothing at first. Once we get established in flight training, there are a couple of things to take care of to further your training. We will apply for a student pilot certificate, and I will get you the books and materials for learning on the ground. Some people do not realize that a big part of learning to fly is spent on the ground, studying things like the helicopter, navigation, weather, and more. You will also need a medical certificate before you can fly solo. This is nothing more than a routine physical that is conducted by an AME or aviation medical examiner. There are many around the area, including one right here at the airport, and a full list for the state can be found on the FAA website. There is also a written exam that is taken on the computer at an approved testing center, this is one part of the process to become a rated pilot, and I will help you prepare and study along the way.
Between honing our flight skills in the air and honing our knowledge on the ground, we will be ready for a check ride in no time! This is the final step before achieving a private pilot’s license and involves you demonstrating your knowledge to an FAA examiner on the ground and in flight. Once complete, you will have successfully become a helicopter pilot!
I can only cover so much in just a single blog post, but I hope I have helped outline the process to those deciding if they would like to begin flight training. If so, book your intro flight today, I look forward to it.
See you in the skies!
Flight Instructor, MN Helicopters