Helicopter pilots are some of the most highly skilled pilots in the aviation industry. Unlike fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters have the ability to maneuver in ways that are impossible for traditional planes.
This unique maneuverability requires helicopter pilots to possess a specialized skill set, which includes vertical reference and external load operations, low-level flying, mountain flying, confined area operations, and night vision goggle (NVG) operations.
We'll explore each of these skills in more detail, and highlight where you can learn them. These are just examples, there are plenty of other places where you can learn these skills.
* Vertical reference and external load operations
* Low-level flying
* Mountain flying
* Confined area operations
* Night vision goggle (NVG) operations
Vertical Reference and External Load Operations
Vertical reference and external load operations are among the most demanding and complex skills that helicopter pilots must master. This skill requires a pilot to be able to maintain a steady hover over a specific location while simultaneously using a cable or sling to lift a heavy external load, such as a construction or rescue equipment. The pilot must be able to maintain a steady hover while dealing with variables such as wind, turbulence, and load oscillation.
Where to Learn Vertical Reference and External Load Operations:
Vertical reference and external load operations are typically taught in flight schools that specialize in helicopter training. There are several reputable flight schools throughout the United States, including Bristow Academy in Titusville, Florida and Western Helicopters in Rialto, California.
Low-level flying is another essential skill that helicopter pilots must master. This skill requires a pilot to fly a helicopter at low altitudes, often at or below treetop level. This type of flying is typically used for utility and surveying work and requires a pilot to be able to fly smoothly and accurately at a low altitude, while dealing with obstacles and rapidly changing terrain.
Where to Learn Low-Level Flying:
Low-level flying is typically taught in helicopter flight schools. It's important to choose a school with experienced instructors who have extensive low-level flying experience. Some of the best flight schools for low-level flying training include Silver State Helicopters in North Las Vegas, Nevada and Hillsboro Aero Academy in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Mountain flying is a specialized skill that helicopter pilots must master if they plan to fly in mountainous regions. This type of flying requires a pilot to be able to navigate through steep terrain, high altitudes, and unpredictable weather conditions. Pilots must also be able to deal with thin air, reduced visibility, and extreme temperatures.
Where to Learn Mountain Flying:
Mountain flying is typically taught in flight schools that specialize in helicopter training. Some of the best flight schools for mountain flying training include Guidance Aviation in Prescott, Arizona and Mountain Blade Runner Helicopters in Red Cliff, Colorado.
Confined Area Operations
Confined area operations are a challenging skill that requires a pilot to fly a helicopter in tight or confined spaces, such as urban areas or disaster zones. This type of flying requires a pilot to be able to fly smoothly and accurately in challenging conditions, while also being able to manage risks associated with obstacles, structures, and other hazards.
Where to Learn Confined Area Operations:
Confined area operations are typically taught in helicopter flight schools that offer specialized training in urban and disaster response flying. Some of the best flight schools for this type of training include the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and HeliStream in Costa Mesa, California.
Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Operations
Night vision goggle (NVG) operations are a skill that helicopter pilots must master if they plan to fly at night. This type of flying requires a pilot to use night vision goggles to enhance their vision in low-light conditions, and to be able to navigate through unfamiliar terrain in the dark.
Where to Learn NVG Operations:
NVG operations are typically taught in helicopter flight schools that offer specialized training in night flying. Some of the best flight schools for this type of training include NVG flight training programs offered by the United States military and various commercial flight schools throughout the country, such as the Night Flight Concepts in Bedford, Texas and the Advanced Helicopter Services in Corvallis, Oregon.
In conclusion, helicopter-specific skills are essential for pilots who plan to operate in a wide variety of settings, such as emergency response, utility work, or military operations. The specialized training required to master these skills can be obtained through helicopter flight schools and other training programs, where students can learn from experienced instructors and practice the necessary techniques in a controlled environment.
If you're interested in pursuing a career in helicopter piloting or expanding your skillset as a current pilot, consider researching the various training programs available throughout the country, as well as the specific skill sets that are most in demand in your chosen field. By investing in your education and training, you can build the skills and experience necessary to become a top-performing helicopter pilot in any industry.