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Subject: Mauna Loa Grads out there?
 
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NavyDoc34User is Offline
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07/12/2012 12:19 AM  
I was never good at posting on forums so please bear with me.  I have 16 years in the Navy as a corpsman and plan on retiring at 20. After many discussions with my wife she finally stopped trying to get me to stick with medicine and pursue what I realized was my dream job. About 10 years ago when I was working at the helo dunker at NAS Jacksonville, I got a few unique opportunities to ride in a helo. The most notible was 2 seperate ride alongs with the Jacksonville Sheriffs Departments Aviation Unit. These rides solidified my desire to become a pilot. Unfortunately military op tempos and the discouraging costs made it daunting. I am finally in a position to start my flight training and hopefully hour building when I am done. I am limited by the schools in my geographic area and only have 2 options that I can find. They are Mauna Loa Helicopters and Georges Avation Services. Both have some pros and cons. I decided to do my private with Georges to save on cost since they have a lower hourly rate for their club members. Instructor fees are close to that of Mauna Loa but Georges does not currently offer rotor training beyond a Private Cert. I heard they do have a plan in the works to add it. They are primarily a full service fixed wing company with a single R-22, 1 Full time rotary instructor and 2 part time instructors.

Mauna Loa is a dedicated Heli school with their main campus on the big island and 2 satellite campuses on other islands including the one here in Honolulu. I am looking to switch to Mauna Loa for the the rest of my ratings once I finish my private cert. I am looking for any of their grads that can offer advice on wether to bite the bullet and sign on for their Professional Pilot Program or pay for 1 cert at a time. I have seen a few posts discouraging paying for the full program packages because of a school that shut down abruptly in 2008. We had a similar fixed wing school do the same here in Hawaii.

I am also looking honest answers about the state of the industry from all of you who work in it. I would love to fly for law enforcement or a fire department though both of those are tough industries to get into. I have no problem following the natural CFI until you have the hours to be marketable progression. Is it realistic to think that this is a viable career move though there will be a few years of just scraping by or am I just tossing the dice. On a plus side, I am willing to fly in any industry that will hire me once I meet their requirements.
rskoreckiUser is Offline
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07/18/2012 8:39 PM  
Hello there NavyDoc.

I was hoping someone with more recent experience would reply...but no one has, so I'll jump in. I went through Mauna Loa for all of my ratings in 2004. The school has grown a lot since then, but I am sure it is still a great place to get your training. I paid for my ratings as I went...not as a package deal. I actually don't even think there was a package deal when I was there. In any event, if I were to do it again, I would still pay as I go...

Almost all of the others who went through MLH when I was there are currently working as pilots. Jobs have definitely become harder to get since then, and the minimums required by employers has gone up too. However, you can still do it. I have friends currently going through the process, including one at MLH about to finish up. There are plenty of jobs out there, the toughest one to get is going to be the first job instructing. Seems like after that, as long as you get over the 1000-1200 hour hurdle, it gets easier.

You don't need longline, nvg, or turbine training like some schools will try to sell you (I actually don't know what MLH packages contain, but if they do have these things, you don't need them). The first job you get after flight instructing will not be a job flying longline or nvgs...and once you do get a job doing those things, your new employer will pay you to do that training. Similarly, you will get paid to do turbine training when you get hired by your new employer. Do not pay anyone for a "turbine transition"...there is no such thing. You don't want to pay for any hours in excess of the 200 that you will need to start instructing...any money you spend past those 200 hours is wasted. As for longline training...it is fun to do a little just to see what it is like (way more difficult than you think it is I promise!)...but don't spend money doing more than one flight. It is a perishable skill, and since you won't do any slinging for a number of years, it would be a waste to spend money getting good at it now. (and if it makes you feel better, I have about 150 hours of it and I am still pretty bad...ok, really bad)

One very important area to pay attention to when you are building time as an instructor is your night time. Be sure to get at least 100 hours of night time when you are instructing, b/c it will be difficult to get those night hours later on...and you will need them to get your ATP...and some jobs want lots of night time if it is an NVG job.

That's about all that comes to mind at the moment. If I think of more I'll add. Hopefully some others will chime in too. Good luck.

-ryan
boatpixUser is Offline
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07/20/2012 5:11 PM  
I've had two Mauna Loa grads come to me and work for me and they have had good things to say about the school but they spent a ton of money and neither got hired. Both were CFII's that didn't get hired and did my boat photo timebuilding program where they paid for additional training and hours to get on a boat photo contract with my school. Brian T got hired to fly a turbine in Alaska in March after blasting through 1000 hours with me in less than a year (and I found him that job) and Keith C. got hired to fly a twin turbine A star (Twinstar) at 920 hours last month and my student that he was training found him that job (and I told him he could take my R22 Mariner to NY with him and he still flies for me on weekends doing boats and heading to the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts tomorrow for a 300 boat shark tournament). Don't assume that Mauna Loa or any school can hire all the graduates because that is impossible unless the school grows at a geometric rate or has other huge contracts going on (like, we do five times as much photo as training). Both Brian T. and Keith C. were very cool guys, well trained, well spoken, perfect English speaking, but they turned to me to get them to jobs when their plans of working for the flightschool that trained them didn't work out. Neither wanted to pony up money and spend it with me but I got them both to turbine jobs because of the hours spent getting trained with us and the job guarantee that regular readers are probably sick of hearing about. If you don't have a job or are training in a school where it's obvious that you can't be guaranteed a job then call me at 561-346-2816.
michaels214User is Offline
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07/23/2012 6:09 PM  
I dont know a lot about the situation..But I know a recent graduate from mauna loa and was just talking to him this month about things. He graduated earlier this year and got hired as a CFI, along with 2 others. And he also said there are 2 other guys that are graduating soon that are going to stay on as instructors. They only hire their own graduates and keep around 70% of their graduates. So yea there is no 100% guarantee of them giving you employment but 70% is decent - especially since you have to be a graduate of their professional pilot program, which a lot of people dont do. They do their private or other random little things. If I remember correctly thats what the instructor I know said..They hire 70% of their graduates who have been through their full professional pilot program.

I also had a meeting with the owner of the company and he seems like an honest guy. Never tried to "sell" me on anything for one minute. Told me all the risks of getting into this path, its not for everyone, you have to work really hard, you may have to leave home for months at a time to get experience, its best to quit your job while training, etc...Never at all talking to me like he wanted to dazzle me with salaries or job opportunities..And to be honest Im the one who had to ask him what the job market and salaries are like on this island, he never mentioned it at all before that. He was just telling me is a rewarding and satisfying career path if you are willing to dedicate your financial and social stability for a few years. Like I said he was a straight up guy and is not out to make people join the school so he can earn a quick buck and have them think that all they have to do it study with him and they are set.

And as to what rskorecki said - hes not sure of the package that MLH offers..it contains all of that stuff you said you dont need..But like I said they require that of you because they only hire their own graduates of the FULL PROGRAM and want you to be on exactly he same page as the rest of the company.
NavyDoc34User is Offline
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07/23/2012 6:27 PM  
Thanks for the replies. Everything I have seen about Mauna Loa suggests that it is a great school and I look forward to switching over to them once I finish my private rating. I spoke with quite a few folks who spoke very highly of the school and its owner. That includes a couple pilots of a Aviation services company and the owner of one of the helicopter tour companies here. I got burned by a local Scuba operator a few years ago when I started my dive master program which is why I turned to this forum to solicit info from grads. The dive shop had a ton of great reviews and the staff was very nice but their PADI Pro Program was very hit and miss with no real organization. After I switched to a different shop to finish the program, I began meeting folks who had the same kind of experience with them. I just don't want that to happen in this case.

I understand that the first job will be hard to find. I face the added challenge of being geographically limited until I retire from the Navy in mid 2016. This is a complete 180 from what I do in the military and I don't have any illusion that it will be easy or that I will be good at it right away. After 16+ years in the Navy, I am still learning and I am sure it will be the same when I make the switch to flying.

For the ratings, I will save money by doing the professional pilot program. NVG and long line are nice to have but I agree it will be a waste of money. I will have to look back at their program and see if they offer it without those and what the cost difference is. The instructor ratings are the big one to get from what I have read. It seems counter intuitive for a new pilot to be teaching but if that is what it takes to move up in the industry then I am game. I cannot afford the cost of turbine time on a Navy salary so I am definitely going to need to wait for someone to hire and train me.

Boatpix, Do you do any work here in Hawaii? I have been to your website and it looks like a great blend of my photography hobby and my helicopter addiction. Frankly I am willing to fly for whomever will give me the opportunity once I finish. Being active duty does limit where I can work to near my current duty station though.
michaels214User is Offline
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07/23/2012 6:50 PM  
"For the ratings, I will save money by doing the professional pilot program. NVG and long line are nice to have but I agree it will be a waste of money. I will have to look back at their program and see if they offer it without those and what the cost difference is. The instructor ratings are the big one to get from what I have read. It seems counter intuitive for a new pilot to be teaching but if that is what it takes to move up in the industry then I am game."

Like I said, based on the info I got from a student, an instructor, and the owner - They hire only their grads from the full professional pilot program and they do it because they know that they are up to the MLH standards and are already trained. Im sure the reasons get a lot deeper than that, but thats the impression I get from it. They also told me that during your training you are putting together a book which you will use to instruct - so youre pretty much building lesson plans to use when its your turn to be an instructor. And like I said its not everybody who gets hired - so im sure they make sure that the people they do hire are the ones who excel in the program.
AirFlairUser is Offline
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07/24/2012 7:19 PM  
MLH is good to go, allot has changed from when I worked there but all good instructors the last time I did a R22 check out Feb of last year... and not to mention the owner is a great guy too.

Good luck and I concur on the 100 hours of night. That was something I did not get and am still trying to get my 100 hours of night 4000 hours later.
michaels214User is Offline
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07/25/2012 12:39 AM  
Thats good to know buddy!
EmbreeUser is Offline
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08/24/2012 11:44 PM  
I first want to say that I just Graduated from Mauna Loa last week. I didn't read any other persons reply to your msg so I can only address the things you stated were of interest. I came to Mauna Loa with my private rating and just completed MLH's professional pilot program. I've also had the misfortune of paying for a my training up front with Silver State Helicopters and should have graduated back in the summer of 2008. After they went under, I joined another school after painstaking hours of researching which school is best in the country. I won a scholarship that had to be used at a 141 school and that's when I decided to go to MLH. So with now 3 school experiences under my belt I can honestly say this by far is the best training that I've recieved. I came here with 140 hours of total time and found that the private pilots who had 30 hours of training were not only more knowledgeabe in aerodynamics, but had a better overall understanding of how to perform manuevers. So, I had to bite the bullet and study my butt off to catch up to their standard, which again superseeds any that I've experienced. I am now waiting for a job offer from them and would love to instruct here, because the training with MLH doesn't stop after your CFII. Please keep in mind that I searched for over a year and got opinions from professionals in the industry about several schools and MLH came back with a immaculate review from several sources. So, naturally, after being burned from a school that went under, and training at another school, I can only, with the highest of recommendation that you will not be let down by the training, knowledge, and instruction you recieve if you so choose to come here. As far as finances goes, they accept the GI bill so you wont have to pay a dime since you already have your private rating. So in conclusion, if I had to do it all over again, I would have trained here from day 1, but am VERY happy that I came to MLH for the time I did.
michaels214User is Offline
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09/14/2012 4:20 PM  
Cool man..congratulations! Ill probably be seeing you around..I start up on the 3rd of october!
bwb7465User is Offline
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10/17/2012 12:29 PM  
Please contact me at bwbrown74@yahoo.com. I have some information for an alternative route for you to take which you may be interested in. The results are the same while you spend considerably LESS $$$$$$$$........
Cheers!
NavyDoc34User is Offline
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10/18/2012 3:03 PM  
Email sent.
bwb7465User is Offline
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10/19/2012 12:50 AM  
Hey Doc! Sorry for the inconvenience but would you please send your email again to me. Somehow between my government computer and my personal computer your e-mail was absorbed.
Cheers, Boyd
bwbrown74@yahoo.com
p.s. I'm a former active duty BU2 having served with NMCB 74.
NavyDoc34User is Offline
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10/19/2012 1:27 AM  
No worries. I just sent it again.
triplett@cg73.navy.mil
ikesspikeUser is Offline
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10/19/2012 4:30 PM  
I try not to recommend flight schools for which I have no experience. However, a friend of mine who has lots of previous commercial FW experience and is a true professional recently attended and graduated from their program. Therefore, I can attest without a doubt, this school is of the highest caliber and will no doubt fulfill your needs. Plus, ya can’t go wrong in Hawaii. A tropical paradise with a ton of helicopters flying around! This is a networking meca which is the most important aspect of career advancement in this industry….
PilotHeathUser is Offline
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05/17/2013 10:22 PM  
I have just come across this post. I completed my CFI with Mauna Loa Helicopters (MLH) in 2011 and have been fortunate to been in full time work since. The training provided is top of its class. Location is amazing with varied weather (this is very important) and the staff at the school make you feel like you are part of a big family. I am so confident in the skills of their Graduates that i have just placed a pilot from MLH into their first job in China - and i expect there will be many more to come. Anyone wanting more information, tips on getting through the course in an economic way , living tips and even updates on the job market in China you are welcome to email me at pilotheath@gmail.com . I will do my best to respond as quickly as i can. I am a pilot / CFI in China. You can see some of the things we are doing here: www.greatwallhelitours.com Fly Safe
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