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Old Feb 4th 2008, 1:58 am   #1
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Default Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Hi everyone,

Before I start I will just say that I have already browsed through all the posts that have the word helicopter in it, but can't quite find what I'm looking for.

For starters both my husband and I are Canadian citizens (by birth) but we are currently living in Australia for the next year or two. When we come back to Canada my husband would like to get his commercial helicopters licence. Right now he's a mining engineer and he's come to the realization that he dislikes being stuck in an office all day! Also, my husbands only 28 right now so he's still got lots of time to retrain. I expect by the time we returns he'll probably have just turned 30.

So my questions are:

1. What are some of the better schools in BC? Does anyone have any experience with them? We've already done lots of research so we've found a lot of training places but don't know if they're any good.

2. What are the prospects for a new pilot? I've heard it is very difficult to get work as a new pilot with around 100 hours flying time. We're prepared to tough it out and wait for the work to come. I'm a teacher (high school or adult math) so at least one of us would have an ok income. Also, when we return we would like to buy a house and settle down but I'm not sure that's feasible if my husband will have to move a lot while starting out as a pilot.

3. For all the helicopters pilots out there, do you enjoy what you do? My husband has been dying to fly for the last few years, so he's very ready to start as soon as he can.

4. Money issues.... We are expecting this to cost about $50,000-$60,000. Is that about right? The money isn't a problem because when we move back we'll have money from the house to pay for the training. We were fortunate to have bought a house in Fort McMurray a couple of years ago so we made a bit of money on that.

5. Time.... Am I right in thinking it would take about 4 months if you're doing it full time? I've read some people have done it in 2 although 4 is more the average. My husband would be treating it like a job and would be there all day whether he was flying, in flight school or learning about the equipment. So I'm hoping 4 months is lots of time.

6. Where to live after? Are there any hotspots in BC where finding a job would be easier for a new pilot? Where are the desireable place to be?

Right now we're focusing on BC because we would ideally like to live in the mountains so it's probably better to train there. But, we also have family near Sparwood, Edmonton, Lethbridge and around Kingston, Ontario. So any of those places might work as well.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 2:18 am   #2
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

[QUOTE=comet555;5880597]
Quote:
1. What are some of the better schools in BC? Does anyone have any experience with them? We've already done lots of research so we've found a lot of training places but don't know if they're any good.
Chinook Helicopters Abbotsford BC There are lots of others, but this could be a place to start your investigations.

Quote:
2. What are the prospects for a new pilot? I've heard it is very difficult to get work as a new pilot with around 100 hours flying time. We're prepared to tough it out and wait for the work to come. I'm a teacher (high school or adult math) so at least one of us would have an ok income. Also, when we return we would like to buy a house and settle down but I'm not sure that's feasible if my husband will have to move a lot while starting out as a pilot.
There are job opportunities, but will have to gain time and experience to get into some organizations. This is a company, Western Aerial as an example.

Quote:
3. For all the helicopters pilots out there, do you enjoy what you do? My husband has been dying to fly for the last few years, so he's very ready to start as soon as he can.
I think you'd be hard pressed to find a pilot who does not like what they are doing. Depending on the type of work would determine how much time away from home though.

Quote:
4. Money issues.... We are expecting this to cost about $50,000-$60,000. Is that about right?
http://chinookhelicopters.com/school/costs/

Quote:
5. Time.... Am I right in thinking it would take about 4 months if you're doing it full time? I've read some people have done it in 2 although 4 is more the average. My husband would be treating it like a job and would be there all day whether he was flying, in flight school or learning about the equipment. So I'm hoping 4 months is lots of time.
Depends on the individual and the weather. We have lost a lot of flying days this winter. Two months is pushing it if he has no experience. I know of people who have time and experience on a private license who have gone commercial in less than 6 weeks though.
Quote:

6. Where to live after? Are there any hotspots in BC where finding a job would be easier for a new pilot? Where are the desireable place to be?
Matter of choice, a friend works for company in Chilliwack, has just moved to the Okanagan (4 hours by road). He works all over BC so where he lives is not such a big deal. Good idea to find somewhere that suits the family, if you're away on a job the family need the comfort amenities. Try renting near where he is training, see what you like and decide from there.

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Old Feb 4th 2008, 2:37 am   #3
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Thanks for the quick response.

Yah, I sort of figured he'd be doing his training in Abbotsford. It looked like there were several good schools in the area. My husband might just find a cheap place to rent there while he does his course. The rought plan is that I stay with my parents while he does his training and then we can sort out where to live once he's finished training. No point in setting up in Abbotsford if we'll likely live elsewhere. Also, I won't don't get to see my parents too often because they live in Ontario so it'd be nice to have a visit and I can make some money working for them.

If we had our choice though I think we'd live close to Sparwood because we have family there and it's closer to Alberta (where the rest of our family is).

I noticed that link for Western mentions they do GPS stuff. Would it be any advantage to have some background in surveying? Just curious, I know you're hired on what you're like as a pilot. But I thought I'd ask because my husband did work as a survery with GPS (trimble I think) at the mines for about 8 months.

So, do helicopter pilots spend a fair amount of time away from home? We're used to a fairly hectic schedule because of our time in Fort McMurray so I don't think it would bother us too much. But I'm just curious how long away and how much time at home?

I'm glad to hear that pilots generally enjoy their jobs. That's sort of the whole point of the switch. Life's too short to work at something you really don't like.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 2:55 am   #4
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by comet555 View Post
Hi everyone,

Before I start I will just say that I have already browsed through all the posts that have the word helicopter in it, but can't quite find what I'm looking for.

For starters both my husband and I are Canadian citizens (by birth) but we are currently living in Australia for the next year or two. When we come back to Canada my husband would like to get his commercial helicopters licence. Right now he's a mining engineer and he's come to the realization that he dislikes being stuck in an office all day! Also, my husbands only 28 right now so he's still got lots of time to retrain. I expect by the time we returns he'll probably have just turned 30.

So my questions are:

1. What are some of the better schools in BC? Does anyone have any experience with them? We've already done lots of research so we've found a lot of training places but don't know if they're any good.

2. What are the prospects for a new pilot? I've heard it is very difficult to get work as a new pilot with around 100 hours flying time. We're prepared to tough it out and wait for the work to come. I'm a teacher (high school or adult math) so at least one of us would have an ok income. Also, when we return we would like to buy a house and settle down but I'm not sure that's feasible if my husband will have to move a lot while starting out as a pilot.

3. For all the helicopters pilots out there, do you enjoy what you do? My husband has been dying to fly for the last few years, so he's very ready to start as soon as he can.

4. Money issues.... We are expecting this to cost about $50,000-$60,000. Is that about right? The money isn't a problem because when we move back we'll have money from the house to pay for the training. We were fortunate to have bought a house in Fort McMurray a couple of years ago so we made a bit of money on that.

5. Time.... Am I right in thinking it would take about 4 months if you're doing it full time? I've read some people have done it in 2 although 4 is more the average. My husband would be treating it like a job and would be there all day whether he was flying, in flight school or learning about the equipment. So I'm hoping 4 months is lots of time.

6. Where to live after? Are there any hotspots in BC where finding a job would be easier for a new pilot? Where are the desireable place to be?

Right now we're focusing on BC because we would ideally like to live in the mountains so it's probably better to train there. But, we also have family near Sparwood, Edmonton, Lethbridge and around Kingston, Ontario. So any of those places might work as well.
Hey Comet

Am forwarding this to Mrs Miggins - her hubby is a copter pilot so can give you any info on that.

Any info on Lethbridge please feel free to PM me

Gaynor
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:03 am   #5
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by comet555 View Post
Thanks for the quick response.

Yah, I sort of figured he'd be doing his training in Abbotsford. It looked like there were several good schools in the area. My husband might just find a cheap place to rent there while he does his course. The rought plan is that I stay with my parents while he does his training and then we can sort out where to live once he's finished training. No point in setting up in Abbotsford if we'll likely live elsewhere. Also, I won't don't get to see my parents too often because they live in Ontario so it'd be nice to have a visit and I can make some money working for them.

If we had our choice though I think we'd live close to Sparwood because we have family there and it's closer to Alberta (where the rest of our family is).

I noticed that link for Western mentions they do GPS stuff. Would it be any advantage to have some background in surveying? Just curious, I know you're hired on what you're like as a pilot. But I thought I'd ask because my husband did work as a survery with GPS (trimble I think) at the mines for about 8 months.

So, do helicopter pilots spend a fair amount of time away from home? We're used to a fairly hectic schedule because of our time in Fort McMurray so I don't think it would bother us too much. But I'm just curious how long away and how much time at home?

I'm glad to hear that pilots generally enjoy their jobs. That's sort of the whole point of the switch. Life's too short to work at something you really don't like.
Abby is not a bad place, lots of rental properties. The schools can often help out too. Travel depends on the job, there are charter companies which fly in and around the lower mainland, so less travel, back country work demands more away time, crop spraying is seasonal, so at home in blocks of time. Some jobs are a few weeks at a time, some a few days.

I'm fixed wing as I have an issue with the wings whirling around above your head.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:09 am   #6
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

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Hey Comet

Am forwarding this to Mrs Miggins - her hubby is a copter pilot so can give you any info on that.

Any info on Lethbridge please feel free to PM me

Gaynor
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Thanks for that. I noticed her posting during my searches and thought I might get around to messaging her at some point. I was sort of hoping she'd pop in here first!

I know enough about Lethbridge to do for the moment. We have some relatives in and around there. My husbands parents actually live in Vauxhall which is about an hour from there. So if there was work there we'd take it. I've been there a few times so I have a decent idea what it's like.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:11 am   #7
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

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Originally Posted by Surrey Expat View Post
Abby is not a bad place, lots of rental properties. The schools can often help out too. Travel depends on the job, there are charter companies which fly in and around the lower mainland, so less travel, back country work demands more away time, crop spraying is seasonal, so at home in blocks of time. Some jobs are a few weeks at a time, some a few days.

I'm fixed wing as I have an issue with the wings whirling around above your head.
I guess for us it'll come down to the cost of living. Ideally we'd like some place in or around the mountains with a bit of land. We'll have to see what my husband thinks about time away and all that to figure out where to live.

He's big on family so I would suspect within an hour or to of Sparwood would be ideal.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:21 am   #8
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Although mainly a fixed wing training center there are some options for rotary training at Boundary Bay, which would maybe open up Vancouver to you in terms of somewhere to live (if that's something you'd like). I believe Pro IFR do helecopter training and they are highly regarded (I've done some fixed wing stuff with them in the past and would happily recommend).

If you've not done so already check out the AvCanada rotary forum, you'll probably get more useful specifics there. Also maybe worth sticking a post in the PPRuNe Canada forum.

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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:23 am   #9
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

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Thanks for that. I noticed her posting during my searches and thought I might get around to messaging her at some point. I was sort of hoping she'd pop in here first!

I know enough about Lethbridge to do for the moment. We have some relatives in and around there. My husbands parents actually live in Vauxhall which is about an hour from there. So if there was work there we'd take it. I've been there a few times so I have a decent idea what it's like.
Dont know what work you would find about here as Mr M works in Red Deer and commutes to and from

Gaynor
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:33 am   #10
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

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Dont know what work you would find about here as Mr M works in Red Deer and commutes to and from

Gaynor
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Well I guess BC it is. I think that's where most of the work is anyway.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 4:32 am   #11
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Hi
Found these, I hope they are of some help.

http://www.okhelicopters.com/

http://www.helicopter-training.net/h...h_columbia.htm

I know of someone on another forum who has just done this.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 3:31 pm   #12
 
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Great Slave Helicopters training base is at Springbank Airport just west of Calgary.

http://www.greatslaveheli.com/

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Great Slave Helicopters and its group of companies is the second largest VFR Helicopter Operator in Canada.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 5:27 pm   #13
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

One suggestion I would have, is by narrowing down schools, evaluate the quality of training. Although the course states 100 hours, the student has to attain a certain standard and pass a flight test. The quality of training will play a large part in achieving this goal. Go to the best school, wherever it is located, the training period is relatively short compared to the length of a career.

Visit the schools, interview them, you are the paying customer, make sure there is a good fit between the student and the school.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 9:17 pm   #14
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

Well that's just it. There's only so much we can do looking at the list on the internet. I've read a lot about the schools on various forums and it looks like there are several good ones in Abbotsford.

Unfortunately being in Australia at the moment we don't really have the time or money to go over and tour all the schools at the moment. So it'll have to wait until we move back.

The big problem is that when we do go back my husband will be ready to start immediately after he's checked the schools out. But I'm not sure how feasible that is. Is there normally a waiting period to get in? Or could he have to wait a few weeks or months to get a spot?

We absolutely want a school that will teach him everything he needs to know and give him the best chance at getting a job. That along with being comfortable there are the biggest factors to picking one.

I'm just hoping to hear some more insight into schools before we return so we can narror in on 2-3 of them.
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Old Feb 4th 2008, 9:27 pm   #15
 
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Default Re: Helicopter pilots - BC or elsewhere (need info on training, jobs, etc)

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Well that's just it. There's only so much we can do looking at the list on the internet. I've read a lot about the schools on various forums and it looks like there are several good ones in Abbotsford.

We absolutely want a school that will teach him everything he needs to know and give him the best chance at getting a job. That along with being comfortable there are the biggest factors to picking one.
I am assuming you have read this thread on the AvCanada Helicopter forum it contains some very good comments regarding helicopter training along with links to a number of training operations.

http://www.avcanada.ca/forums2/viewt...p?f=76&t=21146

In addition to the links in the thread there is also Bighorn Helicopters also based at Springbank Airport just west of Calgary.

Cheers
Steve
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