Life as a helicopter pilot
Are you are bored of doing the same old thing in your current job? Do you want a new, exciting and rewarding career which offers challenges and real responsibility? Then this job is for you! Becoming a helicopter pilot IS an achievable goal and you have made the first step by reading our website. One of the best things about being a helicopter pilot is the amazing panoramic view and the feeling of freedom as you surf the skies. Being a helicopter pilot means coming to work every day to expect something new; exciting challenges, beautiful sights, thrilling adventures, meeting new people and real responsibility. There is a wide range of industry sectors to choose from when embarking on your career from cattle mustering to emergency rescue operations. Whatever path you choose, you will be one of the few people who love coming to work!
Stress And Schedule
Helicopter pilots occasionally have erratic schedules and may have to spend time away from home. For example, off shore helicopter pilots often work seven days on and seven days off. For the seven-day work shift, the pilot must stay offshore or at remote bases away from family. Helicopter pilots are responsible for the safety of the crew, cargo and craft. They need to make snap decisions in bad weather or when equipment fails. If you can’t handle stress and responsibility, this job may not appeal to you.
There are a number of different career paths to choose from within the helicopter industry. Some roles require more experience than others but all are rewarding careers. Below is a list of the main helicopter industry sectors to consider when selecting your career path:
- Aerial stock mustering
- Aerial photography and filming
- Scenic joyflights / tourism industry
- Flight instruction
- Bushfire fighting
- Powerline surveys
- Marine pilot transfers
- Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Police Air Work
- Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS)
- Corporate flights / general charter service
- Agricultural crop spraying and livestock herding
- Media, news and traffic reporting
- Offshore (oil industry) services
- Tuna spotting (Tuna Boats)
What’s the job market like?
This is our most commonly asked question. The opportunities for initial employment vary from time to time and from region to region. Generally, if you are prepared to look for work and relocate if necessary, then there will be a position available for you. The key to securing a position is persistence, do not give up at the first hurdle and always ask for guidance from our experienced team of instructors. Occasionally, you may have to accept part-time or casual employment to begin with; this is normal and should be seen as an opportunity to “learn the ropes” of the industry – it will certainly be worth it in the end. Many new pilots become instructors to build experience and flying hours. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the task is approached with dedication and enthusiasm. Some people are natural teachers and remain instructors throughout their career. We offer every one of our commercial pilots the opportunity to fly scenic flights for us on weekends as a helping hand to build your hours at no cost to you. We also have some fantastic contacts in the helicopter industry meaning that many of our commercial pilots are placed into a job straight after their training. Here is a list of just some of our students who are now in flying jobs after training with V Squared:
- Kolby North – Powerline Surveys
- Sean Hedland – Mustering Cattle
- Craig Storno-Bown – Mustering Cattle
- Luke Newman – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Charlie Rickett – Mustering Cattle
- Dylan Hall – Powerline Surveys
- Judd Pickert – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Stuart McBean – Powerline Surveys
- Jimmy Cole – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Jack Poplawski – Mustering Cattle
- Brett Smith – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Kevin Holden – Mustering Cattle
- Jake Pretorius – Powerline Surveys
- Jack Speed – Mustering Cattle
- Mithun Patel – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Sam Hughes – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Rebecca Saunus – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Ben Nelson – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- Leslie Caldwell – Mustering Cattle
- Courtney Ryan – Tourism/Photography/Charter
- This could be you!
What Skills do I need?
To be a successful helicopter pilot, there are three types of skill required:
- Control skills; and
- Command skills
- Communication/people skills
Control skills are associated with manipulating the controls and operating the systems. A helicopter requires good coordination skills because the controls are exceptionally sensitive and therefore require continuous pilot inputs. Command skills relate to anticipation, judgement, discipline and decision-making. Communication skills are vital for tourism operations where you are in direct contact with paying passengers. You are responsible for the safety and well being of those passengers and they expect top class service from you. All three types of skill can be developed with effective training.
Do I have what it takes?
Your potential to be a pilot depends on personal attributes and how they are developed. These attributes include:
- Knowledge (learning ability and study);
- Skill (aptitude plus quality of training); and
- Personal qualities (your attitude, self-discipline, motivation and determination).
More important than any other aspect is your personal make-up and personality. If you are good at multi-tasking, that is, doing two things at once or in order of priority, are reliable and able to see the essence of a problem rather than the detail, and are calm under stress, then you are particularly suited to aviation. Your personal motivation and drive to be the best, is the single most important factor in aviation training. As a professional helicopter pilot you should also be willing to relocate in the first part of your career to maximise your employment opportunities.
I have a Commercial Licence, now what?
Upon completing your commercial helicopter licence the first thing you should do is research the market to identify which companies are currently employing pilots. Most first helicopter pilot jobs are in the tourism industry so this is a great place to start. We keep an up to date a list of these tourism operators throughout Australia, complete with contact details exclusively available for V2 Helicopters students. Once you have identified which companies are currently employing, then you need to visit them in person. Always follow up and email with a phone call and, even better a visit in person. Try and set up a meeting beforehand though this is not always possible. Always arrive early, well dressed, with a professional appearance and positive friendly attitude. You may have to work on the ground for a period of time before being allocated a flying role. This is normal practice and should be seen as a valuable learning opportunity. We operate a busy charter operation at Archerfield and regularly offer our ex-students the chance to fly conducting scenic flights around the Brisbane Area. This is a great opportunity to build your hours and experience customer interaction.
For more information or to get started with your career in Aviation, give us a call on 3274 6666 or even better, come in and see us. We would love to meet you and discuss your options for embarking on this new exciting career in aviation. Let us know when you are free to come in and we will have the kettle on ready!