Choosing a helicopter flight school is difficult. And the stakes are high! I talked to several schools’ instructors, owners, and previous students. I also spoke with people in various roles at helicopter companies, and to their customers. Many industry professionals are understated, so listen carefully to what they have to say and read between the lines. Some great advice I got was to decide beforehand what kind of work I wanted to do (e.g. bush, offshore, urban, VIP, etc) and choose a school that has that experience.
I heard of Rotorworks by word of mouth from a great pilot. It seemed out of the way, relatively unknown compared to some of the bigger or newer schools, and Whitecourt wasn’t high on my list of places to move. But Rotorworks had an excellent reputation with anyone who knew of it, and the team was great to deal with from when I first contacted them.
Rotorworks was great for ground school and test preparation. They are honest, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and will make sure you know what is important. Because of the small class size, ground school in the classroom was fun and highly tailored to my needs, and the needs of the other students. The high ratio of instructors to students allowed me lots of time with each instructor and their different styles in both ground school and in flight training, which helped me progress.
Getting as much operational experience as possible will give you an advantage, and it’s where Rotorworks really excels. The Rotorworks hangar, where you will be practicing from your first day flying is a challenging take off and landing site. I learned a lot about the industry, maintenance and machines’ systems by hanging out at their maintenance organization and learning more about the machines’ systems and maintenance.
At completion of my time at Rotorworks, I had experience fueling machines at the airport and offsite out of drums, operating from an offsite base. These are fundamentals of the job that you might not get everywhere. It requires more work on their part and a higher standard than necessary to get students licensed; Rotorworks goes the extra mile to prepare their students for the industry. I used these skills in my first week on the job.
Throughout my time at Rotorworks I got to interact with other industry professionals and former students who came in for recurring training, or just to visit. All flight schools indicate they will help you find work. Rotorworks helped me make connections and tailor my resume to the helicopter industry. The more effort you put in, the more support you will receive from Rotorworks in your training and in your early career. This helped me to get two job offers during summer 2020, before I was even done flight school.
Thanks Ryan, Sean, and Jim!