Saturday, December 09, 2006


Airplane Instrument vs. Helicopter Private

Assuming that I ever get paid by any of my clients (I haven't yet), a question that keeps popping into my mind is "Should I get my Airplane Instrument rating, or should I get a Helicopter Private certificate?"

The Airplane Instrument rating would be a valuable add-on to my Airplane Single-Engine Land certificate. This would let me fly through clouds, and fly on days with bad weather. Even if I never fly in instrument conditions, I understand that an instrument rating improves the precision of my flying.

On the other hand, I really want to learn to fly a helicopter. It is not practical at all, but I think it would be a lot of fun. One "practical" issue is that if I get my Private Helicopter certificate, I have enough flying hours that I could immediately train for a Commercial Helicopter certificate, in which case I could theoretically get a job as a helicopter pilot.

The airplane training will cost me about $170/hour. The helicopter training will cost about $260/hour, assuming I can lose enough weight to train in an R22.

I'm not seriously looking at changing careers, but being a professional helicopter pilot sounds pretty cool. Then again, being a certificated flight instructor for either airplane or helicopter sounds pretty cool.

Anybody have any advice or suggestions?

I'd say if you next add-on will be your last, then do the helicopter.

But if you're thinking you can do both (at least eventually) then I'd do the IFR airplane next.

I made this same decision awhile ago, though without a lot of chopper training options in my area I basically had to go with the IFR rating. But I don't regret it and still want to get heli training sometime (when $ allows). :)
If money was no object I'd go with the Heli licence, personally.

Since for *me* money was an object, I got into Radio Controlled Heli's instead, satisfied with my plain vanilla pilots licence. :-)
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