Palm Beach County Helicopter Training - the best school for you
Date: Thursday, May 26, 2011 @ 12:23:27 EST
Topic: Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County Helicopter Training

Before you spend a hundred thousand of your or your government’s money, make sure you get the most for your money with the least hassle and cost. The County has four airports, three of which cater to General Aviation interests and have helicopter training schools based on them… 1. Lantana Airport known as Palm Beach County Park Airport, 2. North County Airport, and 3. Pahokee Glades Airport.

Generally speaking, helicopter training is more career oriented than the average fixed wing training program which may be largely due to about three times the cost of helicopter training compared to fixed wing training. You will likely spend between $60,000 to $80,000 in training for your Instructor rating with somewhere around 300 hours. Getting hired by a company could triple the cost as most require a minimum 1000 to 2000 hours experience including 100 -200 hours in the type helicopter to be flown. If that’s a Jet Helicopter, the cost could soar. So make sure your dollars are well spent.

1. Most schools are fully qualified but first make sure they have a phone number and an office on the airport where you will be training. These conditions are part of PB County’s new minimum requirements and are designed to protect the public.

2. Next, make sure that your pattern training will be conducted around the airport where your school is located. Pattern training is lot’s of hours of take offs, landings, use of the radio, auto-rotations, and other maneuvers... all the basics.

This eliminates one of the schools and one airport. Because PALM BEACH HELICOPTER’S school is based at LNA or Lantana Airport which is located in a densely populated urban area, the County and Palm Beach Helicopters training school, have agreed there is to be no training over the communities near the airport (READ COUNTY RULES HERE). These rules apply to all schools and pilots as well while at Lantana Airport. They reiterate four times that pattern training is restricted to above the airport or should be moved to another airport. For training students, that means travel times to and from the other training airport. In an R22, that could take 25 to 40 minutes depending on which airport is used and that transit time will add significantly to training costs.

3. Choose a company that’s well established and very closely scrutinize the small print when discounts for up front payment or requirements for payment in advance are part of the deal.

4. Most helicopter jobs require at least 1000-2000 hours of helicopter experience so check out the ways you may be able to pay for it. Some pilots pursue a flight instructor rating so they can build their helicopter hours while earning an income. A CFI rating is required if you want to teach others for a Private or Commercial Pilot Certificate. A CFII rating is required if you want to teach Instrument Ratings to Helicopter Pilots.

[Note 5/26/11: I received an email from the Helicopter Academy located at North Perry Airport in Miami (outside Palm Beach County) which stated: "If a student gets an instructor rating and is not hired his career is over. They should look for a job guarantee and only one school in the world offers that."]

5. It is essential to find an airport with some breathing space around it. The closer the populated areas are to the airport, the more certain a problem has already been brewing for years and that could interfere with your training and run your costs up.

So find out if there are any public issues with helicopter training at the field you have in mind. Helicopters have a long history of military, law enforcement, news, and emergency medical service to the public and an equally long history of occasionally becoming a public nuisance. As with any industry, there are those few rotten apples and helicopter pilots are no different than drivers on the highway… some are more courteous and respectful than others and much of that has to do with their training. So, be leery of any school that is willing to violate County rules or Noise Abatement Procedures to accommodate your training. Even though these rules may not be mandatory, they are established for a good reason.

Helicopter training issues have already plagued helicopter training at Pompano Beach Airport (outside Palm Beach County) and Lantana Airport (Palm Beach County Park Airport). Internationally, the problem has been growing problem for decades and prompted the creation of advocacy and PR groups such as HAI (Helicopter Association International) to address the negative public image associated with helicopters and to bring a sense of professionalism to prevail across the industry. Much of the effort centers on sensitivity training for pilots.

Along beaches, fancy homes, yachts, exclusive areas, parks, and even an Alpine resort in the Georgia mountains; helicopters have become the latest scourge invading privacy and public sanctuaries. And it’s all because the letter of the law may allow you to do something that may easily trigger a public reaction, especially where training schools are operating.

This brings us down to two airports in Palm Beach County… the NORTH COUNTY AIRPORT in Palm Beach Gardens and PAHOKEE GLADES AIRPORT. Both qualify and both have helicopter training schools. We are informed by Pahokee Airport that Brain Parker’s BLUE HOLE HELICOPTERS will be establishing a school at Pahokee Airport located on Lake Okeechobee in the next few weeks. CLOUD 9 HELICOPTERS and OCEAN HELICOPTERS operate out of North County Airpark and conduct some training operations at Pahokee Airport.

So ads bragging about beaches and babes are one thing, but if you’re investing close to a hundred thousand of your (or your government’s) money in a career, make sure you won’t be violating any County rules, incurring additional costs, or being hassled by public reactions while you’re pursuing your life’s dream. And for a reality check you may find the following link of interest.


Good luck and good flying to all of you,

William Coakley
Commercial, Instrument, Multi-Engine pilot

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

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