Time for a change, but...

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Skiman
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Time for a change, but...

Postby Skiman » Mon May 1 2017, 06:28

Hi guys

First time posting here. I apologise for asking your advice in my first post here, but this seemed like the best place to ask for unbiased information and I've spent enough time lurking.

I'm at a stage in life where I can possibly pursue my dream to fly helicopters for a living. I'm no spring chicken at 44 years old, but 25 years of working in Defence, and my last kid on his way out the door, plus a green light from an amazing wife, has got me thinking. I'm fit, healthy, coordinated, and forecast another good 20 years in the work force - I want to do something I love for a change (or at least give the dream my best shot). I've done 10 hours in fixed wing but it just didn't compare to my first heli flight.

I realise that CPL(H) is an expensive undertaking, and from what I've read so far, it's a challenging industry to get into. I don't want to work in EMS, or fly multicrew. I'm only interested in single engine careers, and would ultimately like to instruct somewhere on the east coast.

My biggest concern is Will my age be against me?
Realistically, I wont be able to start any training till next year (due to military deployments), and then, it probably wont all be at once. I plan to keep the day job until I can get the foot in the door with any heli work. So i guess i'd be lucky completing CPL(H) within a couple years.

I'm not expecting big pay cheques, and in pursuing this career change, I would be effectively halving my current pay. That doesn't bother me. I'd be willing to do volunteer and weekend work to get time up and to get a foot in the door somewhere. I'll sweep hangar floors if that's what I need to do.

What is a realistic expectation of where I might find work in the intial stages of my career? Will PIC time be my only limiting factor? Or are employers looking for younger pilots these days? I have extensive experience with Avionics and aviation maintenance, and have a very broad range of skills up to management - would any of these be considerations to a prospective employer? Are there any CASA limitations I need to be aware of? Can I expect to be rounding up sheep and crop dusting for my first job (not that I would mind)? If so, for how long?

Are there part-time opportunities?

How is the Heli industry looking in general on the east coast of Australia? Is it still declining as the posts from a few years ago seem to indicate?

I live in Newcastle - can you recommend any instructors/schools that are nearby or someone that I can speak with in person? If not, where should I look on the east coast? All the school websites I've read say they're well placed to help their students get a foot in the door with their first job, but I dont know whether that's a clever sales pitch or a reality.

I want to be well informed before I start making firmer decisions. Again, I apologise for the barrage of questions and am humbly grateful for any advice offered.

Respectfully, and with sincere thanks in advance..

Skiman
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Cleared Hot » Mon May 1 2017, 07:42

Run while you have your chance Skiman. The industry is far from good at the moment and when just starting there is a large financial investment for a licence and then be prepared to earn lower then average income and be prepared to travel to the work for 5 years or so.

Your never to old if you have a passion but you must understand it's a hard long rd and best done earlier in life if at all. You might get 50:50 comments here for for and against so take the facts and make a sound decision.
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Mallard
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Mallard » Mon May 1 2017, 12:35

Hi Skiman,

I'll try and answer some of your questions :)

Will my age be against me?
Most civilian heli pilots are older and usually a second career so as long as you are healthy not an issue.

What is a realistic expectation of where I might find work in the intial stages of my career?
Train at a school that's associated to a business that employs new pilots. Expect to live out of a suitcase for a few years.

Are there part-time opportunities?
There might be as long as you are content doing scenics. The more technical (interesting) jobs require minimums set by insurance companies that take many years of experience to gain.

How is the Heli industry looking in general on the east coast of Australia.
I moved west 5 years ago for the career when it was booming over here. It's now looking a bit crap all over unfortunately. There are allot of really experienced pilots not doing much flying. The career path to get the required experience is broken due to a number of factors (part 61, insurance minimums, Oil and Gas slowdown, CASA, CASA, CASA...).

I live in Newcastle - can you recommend any instructors/schools that are nearby or someone that I can speak with in person?
As previously mentioned move to a school that may be able to give you a job afterwards. You will most likely be moving after getting your license anyway so might as well move before and have a better chance of a job. Schools are all desperate for students at the moment I wouldn't put much faith in anything they say on their websites!


Mallard.
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havick
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby havick » Mon May 1 2017, 18:11

In the current market goto a school that also has a tourist operation somewhere that they feed their licensed pilots to e.g. Helicopter group or PHS having a tourist base at Ayers Rock.
"You'll have to speak up, I'm wearing a towel."
Skiman
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Skiman » Tue May 2 2017, 04:57

Solid advice guys - thank you very much for your time and input. In my research, I notice that V2 in Archerfield offer such options to their pilots and they look like a solid school (their Facebook page currently offering the course for $58k). TBH, I would love flying scenics whilst getting the hours up. I have the chance to be posted to RAAF Amberley with work, so that is a very attractive option.

Mallard - You mention that schools are desparate for students, so I gather that instructors must be hard-up to find work as well. I've read that some instructors get the rating just to help them get hours up - several of which are quite green in their careers. None-the-less, they're good teachers and have the qualifications to instruct.

I'm currently saving my arse off and getting out of debt to make this a reality. As mentioned, it will be over a year before I can commence any proper training. I'd like to start studying all the theory elements in advance - am I able to purchase the required textbooks or enrol in an online course to get a head start?

Thanks again gents - I appreciate your time.
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Jabberwocky
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Jabberwocky » Tue May 2 2017, 11:24

You've had a bit of negative advice, and still want to go forward with it...?
You know what you want to do. We've all got the same dream mate, there is a lot of hard work, politics and s#!t times but the office is killer. Just be prepared to take the bad with the good.
Saucepan
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Saucepan » Tue May 2 2017, 12:15

Skiman,

Go with your heart...it's always better to have regrets for things you've done rather than regrets for things you haven't.

HOWEVER, this industry is a risk at the moment and not improving. You have an advantage in not starting for a year. Use it wisely, keep your ear to the ground and your eyes wide open. Some schools aren't always what they seem. Talk to the other students, find out what they've been promised..talk to the ones doing the scenics at the weekend, find out if they're getting paid. I know some aren't.

Initially go for your PPL..if you don't like it afterwards you've only lost $30k...give or take. You have to take into account not just the cost of the commercial but the lost money you could have made outside this game. It can be a rewarding business, but I do know quite a few where the sacrifice has been too much for too little.

Best of luck mate. SP.
Rattlegun
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Rattlegun » Wed May 3 2017, 11:33

Skiman wrote: I'd like to start studying all the theory elements in advance - am I able to purchase the required textbooks or enrol in an online course to get a head start?


Advanced Flight Theory offer ground school and distance learning packages.
Skiman
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Re: Time for a change, but...

Postby Skiman » Thu May 4 2017, 07:18

Just want to express my heart-felt thanks to everyone who replied or PM'ed me. I've got some great advice going forward and the makings of a rudimentary plan to make the dream happen.

If you guys suddenly remember something that you wish you'd known, or a way that you could have done it better, please give me a poke in future. I'm stoked if I can learn from others who have gone before me.

Cheers n beers

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