How To Become A Chopper Pilot

How to a Helicopter Pilot CalAero University
How to a Helicopter Pilot CalAero University from


Becoming a chopper pilot is an exciting and fulfilling career path. Whether you dream of flying emergency medical helicopters, working in the military, or transporting VIPs, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the necessary steps to achieve your goal. In this article, we will outline the qualifications, training, and skills required to become a successful chopper pilot.

Educational Requirements

To start your journey towards becoming a chopper pilot, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. While a college degree is not mandatory, it can be advantageous in terms of building a strong foundation in aviation knowledge. Pursuing a degree in aviation, aeronautical engineering, or a related field can provide you with a competitive edge.

Obtain a Private Pilot License

The first step towards becoming a chopper pilot is obtaining a Private Pilot License (PPL). To qualify for a PPL, you must be at least 17 years old and pass a medical examination. Additionally, you need to complete a minimum of 40 flight hours, including 20 hours of flight instruction and 10 hours of solo flight. These flight hours will help you develop basic flying skills and gain knowledge of aviation regulations.

Instrument Rating

After acquiring a PPL, it is essential to obtain an Instrument Rating (IR). An IR allows you to fly in poor weather conditions and enhances your overall flying skills. To obtain an IR, you must complete additional flight hours and pass a written and practical examination. This rating will open up more opportunities for you as a chopper pilot.

Commercial Pilot License

Once you have obtained an IR, the next step is to obtain a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). A CPL allows you to fly helicopters for compensation or hire. To qualify for a CPL, you must be at least 18 years old and have a minimum of 150 flight hours, including specific training requirements. Additionally, you need to pass a written examination and a flight test conducted by a designated examiner.

Flight Instructor Certificate

If you aspire to become a chopper pilot instructor, obtaining a Flight Instructor Certificate (CFI) is crucial. A CFI allows you to teach others how to fly helicopters. To obtain a CFI, you must meet the flight experience requirements, pass a written examination, and successfully complete a flight test. Becoming a flight instructor can be a rewarding career path, as it allows you to share your passion for flying with others.

Gain Experience

After obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications, gaining flight experience is vital to becoming a successful chopper pilot. Building flight hours and gaining hands-on experience will help you develop your skills, confidence, and decision-making abilities. Consider working for a flight training school, aerial photography company, or a helicopter charter service to accumulate flight hours and broaden your aviation knowledge.

Specialize in a Specific Field

As a chopper pilot, you may choose to specialize in a specific field, such as emergency medical services, firefighting, law enforcement, or offshore operations. Specializing in a particular area will require additional training and certifications specific to that field. Identifying your area of interest early on will help you tailor your training and gain expertise in your chosen field.

Network and Build Connections

Networking plays a crucial role in the aviation industry. Attend aviation conferences, join professional organizations, and connect with experienced pilots to expand your professional network. Building connections can lead to job opportunities, mentorship, and valuable insights into the industry. Stay active on online aviation forums and social media platforms to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and developments.

Continuing Education and Training

As a chopper pilot, your learning journey doesn’t stop once you obtain your licenses and certifications. Continuing education and training are essential to stay current with advancements in technology, regulations, and safety procedures. Attend recurrent training courses, participate in workshops, and stay informed about any updates in the aviation industry. Pursuing advanced certifications and ratings can also open up new career opportunities.


Becoming a chopper pilot requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for flying. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a chopper pilot. Remember to never stop learning and always strive for excellence in your profession. Good luck on your journey to the skies!