I’m thinking of learning to fly helicopters. How do I start?
Call MICHIGAN HELICOPTERS, (248)236-5377 or book your Aviators Discovery flight package with the link below. This allows you to meet with one of our staff instructors, fly a real helicopter and take a tour of our facility. When you come in for your first lesson, you and your instructor will discuss a course of action that will help you meet your goals.
I’m not sure I want to fly. Can I take an introductory flight?
Yes, you can. We do offer an introduction flight. Time will be spent with your instructor before the flight learning the very basics of the flight controls. Then you will begin the flight portion of your lesson where YOU will get to fly the helicopter with the help of your instructor. Please call us for a quote on introductory flights: (248)236-5377
Do I have to have my airplane pilot’s license before I start helicopter training?
No, you do not. Helicopters (rotor craft) and Airplanes (fixed-wing) are considered two different categories by the FAA. Therefore, you do not need any fixed-wing experience to start training.
I think I want to get both my fixed-wing and rotor craft rating. Which should I start first?
Start with the helicopter. The ingrained reactions of an airplane pilot can compromise your safety when flying a helicopter. Basically, people tend to revert back to their initial training in an emergency. These emergency airplane reactions can compromise your helicopter safety.
Hey! I fly airplanes. Does this mean I shouldn’t learn to fly a helicopter?
Not in the least bit. You can learn to fly a helicopter. It will just take a little extra effort from you and your instructor to break your airplane habits, but before you know it you will be a safe helicopter pilot.
How old do I have to be to start training?
You can start at any age. You just will not be able to fly the helicopter alone, or "solo" as they say, until 16 years of age. You may not be old enough to get your license, but you and an instructor can still do all the dual flight instruction you want.
Well then, how old do I have to be to get my pilot’s certificate (license)?
A student pilot’s certificate can be issued at age 16, allowing you to fly the aircraft “solo” without an instructor. Meanwhile, you can continue training towards a private pilot certificate. At age 17 you are eligible for a private pilot certificate.
What is a private pilot certificate, and what can I do with that?
A private pilot is someone who became a pilot for personal reasons such as fun or travel. You will not be able to fly for compensation (i.e. money, cows, goats or pigs), but you will be able to take up family and friends. Depending on how often you fly, you can receive a private rating in as little as 6 weeks (if you fly 10 hrs per week).
I’m thinking of a career as a helicopter pilot. What do I have to do now?
First you will have to achieve your private pilot rating. Then you will need to do additional ground & flight instruction for your instrument and commercial certificates. Your instrument rating teaches you how to fly “in the clouds”; by sole reference of the cockpit instruments. Your commercial rating will allow you to fly for compensation. Starting from zero pilot experience to earning your commercial rating can be accomplished in as little as 6 months (if you fly 10 hrs. per week).
What next? I’m a low-time commercial pilot what can I do?
The most probable step is to become a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor). Almost all non-military trained pilots were instructors at one point. CFI jobs are abundant all over the country, and they allow you to build time and experience while getting paid.
What if I have some sort of medical issue?
It depends on the medical issue and your goal (private, commercial, etc.), but it may not be a problem. Talk to your instructor; be up front. They will know where to find the answer.
Also, you will be required to get a medical checkout from an FAA certified aviation doctor. A current medical is required for solo flight during training. We encourage you to schedule a medical early on in your training. Your instructor will help set you up with a flight doctor for a medical checkout.
I’m a citizen of another country. Can I take instruction in the United States?
Yes, you can. You will just have to register with homeland security. Go to https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov/index.html, create a new student account and fill out the required paperwork. The process includes a TSA background check and fingerprinting. It usually takes 2-4 weeks to get TSA clearance for your training. Be sure to request training from MICHIGAN HELICOPTERS. If you put another flight school by mistake, you will have to submit an entirely new application.
What financing options do I have?
Your main options are: a private loan, Pilot Finance, or a family member willing to sponsor. We do not offer financing through our programs.
I’m all ready to go. What should I bring for my first flight?
You will need to bring a passport or U.S. birth certificate along with a photo ID. Everything else will be provided for you.
I’m a big guy and those helicopters look tiny. Will I be able fly?
The R44 has a maximum seat weight of 300 lbs.
Are helicopters more dangerous than airplanes?
Any kind of flight has its dangers, but helicopters can autorotate should there be an engine failure. This makes the aircraft very safe and they are also extremely reliable. The safety record per 100,000 of flight hours is impeccable.
Can I land my helicopter anywhere?
Yes and no. The FAA does not prohibit landings anywhere, but most cities have an ordinance allowing a helicopter to land only in commercially zoned areas, with permission of the owner; designated airports; and heliports.
Other considerations also come into account, such as the suitability of the area for takeoff and landing, as well as the possibility of disturbing others with noise. During your training you will learn more about what you can and cannot do.
Which is easier to fly an airplane or a helicopter?
An airplane is usually easier to fly. An airplane almost flies itself, while the helicopter requires constant pilot input. It is the constant manipulation of all flight controls that makes flying a helicopter so challenging and fun!
Is there a lot of ground study required?
Yes, you will have to use books and attend ground classroom sessions. Becoming a pilot involves more than just flying. You will learn about weather, aerodynamics, FAA regulations, airspace, and so on. In addition to studying on your own, you will receive one-on-one instruction with a qualified instructor.
What type of work is there for a commercial pilot?
There are many jobs for helicopter pilots. There are the jobs we all are familiar with, such as air ambulance/EMS, scenic tours, electronic news gathering (TV helicopters), flight instruction, and corporate work. Other jobs you may never have thought of: flying off shore to oil rigs, logging, pipeline patrol, aerial photography, and land surveying; to name a few.
Can a helicopter fly when it is windy?
Yes! Helicopters tend to fly noticeably smoother than an airplane in turbulent windy conditions.
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