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Subject: EMS pilots, time to til you got your job.
 
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kchristianUser is Offline
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02/17/2013 9:44 PM  
A question for ems pilots out there... How long did it take you (in years, months) from the time you finished your flight training until you got your first ems job? I earned my private certificate in fixed wing aircraft a few years ago just for the fun of it. I thought it would satisfy that desire I've had to soar with the birds since I could first say the word "airplane". I was wrong. I live near a hospital and every time I see the life flight Aw109 fly over I feel that burning desire to be up there daily. I have a very good paying job right now that sometimes makes me want to put my car in drive and never turn around. Turns out that doesn't necessarily make one happy. One the other hand, doing what I love while helping people who are in need, and having a fairly stable family life could do the trick. I don't doubt that I have what it takes. When I earned my private fixed wing, I did so in 43 hours over the course of 2 months. All while finishing my senior year of college. I'm also prepared to make sacrifices for a few years to make this happen. I'm just wondering how long I will have to work away from home flying in the gulf or in Alaska making significantly less than my family has become accustomed to. I plan to earn my ratings while I keep working at my current job and then make the switch full time. Any input or advice would be welcome. Thanks.
Flying PigUser is Offline
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02/18/2013 11:31 AM  
I am not an EMS pilot, I fly in law enforcement. Although your question is easily answered, it wont have much relevance. It will all depend on how fast you can get your time built up. Just having your ratings for a set period of time is irrelevant. So just saying " I plan to earn my ratings while I keep working at my current job and then make the switch full time. " ..... thats not how it works. Unless you mean switching to be a full time CFI. Then at that point, your days of having a good paying job will be over for a while.

So on average, you are going to be a CFI until you have about 1200-1500hrs, then you will be switching to the GOM or Tours for a while, since EMS operators require turbine experience, not just total time. You are getting ready to start on a multi-year project that could be very tight as far as your family is concerned. You could always work as a CFI part time, but that will all depend on a school that is looking for part time CFI's. In my area, they can hardly keep the full timers working very much. And that will also increase the amount of time it takes you to build it up and move on.

So you are looking at Private through CFII, then "landing" a job as a CFII which could take 9 months to a year if you are doing it part time while working and taking care of family responsibilities, then building 1200-1500hrs instructing. That all depends on how busy your school is. Then moving on to the GOM for a couple of years before you will be qualified for anything EMS related.

There is no doubt that it can be done. It just depends on how long it will take you to get there.
kchristianUser is Offline
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02/18/2013 2:43 PM  
Absolutely. I understand what you are saying. I guess what I am asking is How long did it take you to work up from CFI to GOM to EMS? I realize I will be making very little for the first few years and I'm okay with that. I just need to know how much I will need to save over the last few years of my current job to support my family in the first years of aviation. Thanks for the response. And may I ask how long it took you to get to your current position?
Flying PigUser is Offline
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02/18/2013 5:59 PM  
Posted By kchristian on 02/18/2013 2:43 PM
Thanks for the response. And may I ask how long it took you to get to your current position?


Well, again, the time it took me had nothing to do with flying. In law enforcement, air crews are chosen out of the current staffing of the agency. I was a cop for about 10 years before I got in to the air unit as an observer. I worked towards my commercial/inst airplane and commercial helicopter. While I was a helicopter observer, I was moved to be the full time airplane pilot. I flew our airplane full time for about 4 1/2 yrs. During that time I was still training in our 500s. When one of the unit helicopter pilots retired, I was moved to the that vacant helicopter pilot spot. When I got the full time helicopter slot, I had about 450 hours in the MD500Es and about 2000 in airplanes. So its not the typical path to flying thats for sure. Im now a dual rated CFI.
kchristianUser is Offline
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02/18/2013 10:02 PM  
Interesting. I've thought it'd be great to fly for a police force as well, but the Internet tells me they almost always hire from within. Which is understandable. I'd love to hear from other EMS pilots as well.
Flying PigUser is Offline
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02/19/2013 4:32 PM  
If it is something you are interested in, there are plenty of agencies that hire civilian pilots and use a sworn observer (flight officer) to call control the LE mission. Some hire civilians and leave them as civilians, other hire civilians and then send them to an academy and make them cops with the guarantee that they were hired to he pilots. Others bring on experienced cops and train them to be flight officers, and when the time comes, train the flight officer to become a pilot.
Its been a long standing debate... sworn vs civilian. My thoughts is that its unit specific. My unit brought me on as a TFO. I paid for my ratings on my own up through CFI airplane and CFI helo. But when I started as a helicopter pilot, I only had about 450 hrs total time when I was cut loose on my own. In my case, we were not "hurting" for a pilot. So I was able to come along steadily with no hurry. Plus I was flying a nice airplane about 400hrs per year as my full time gig.
Initially I was restricted to day shift valley patrol only. After training and experience and demonstrated ability, I went on to night time patrol/NVG. Then after that exposure, started working my way into the mountains which go from sea level up to about 13,200ft. I started long lining with about 475hrs or so. 700ish started getting in to rescues and long lining with regard to rescue ops

The only thing about LE who employ civilian pilots is that its obviously a sought after job so the competition is usually pretty steep. Some unit do nothing but turn circles over a city at sea level, and other do pretty much anything and everything you can imagine that could be done with a helicopter. So the type of pilots they are looking for vary as well. Many do EMS as well, in big, nice, full IFR helicopters. Some fly machines that are barely holding together!

I know this has nothing to do with EMS ops, but nobody else is answering :)
raven5User is Offline

Posts:50

02/20/2013 2:50 PM  
I'm not in EMS, but from the people I've talked with I'd say a rough estimate could be; at least 2 years as a CFII making around $800/mo., 1 season in Alaska, then around 2-3 years in the Grand Canyon or the GOM?
Flying PigUser is Offline
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02/20/2013 3:10 PM  
You may try posting on verticalreference.com A lot more action over there. The same person runs both sites, so I dont think recommending that is an issue. JH just seems a little slow.
kchristianUser is Offline
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02/20/2013 3:14 PM  
Thanks for the tip.
mcconnell55User is Offline
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02/21/2013 4:18 PM  
I will chime in on this. Most EMS operators require 2000 hours total, 1000 PIC/turbine, 100 night unaided, instrument certificate, as a MINIMUM before they will look at your application. Those requirements change almost daily, depending on the need of EMS operators, amount of high time unemployed pilots, etc. OK, now to answer your question.

The amount of time required to go from a new Commercial, Instrument cert to your first EMS job depends on how much you want to sacrifice. You need to build both total time AND turbine time. Can you live for 2-5 years on minimal salary, working as a piston CFI to build time, and trying to get any turbine time out there? Example: I know a young pilot (late 20's) who after receiving his Commercial cert flew any job out there. BoatPix, hauling christmas trees to build turbine time, entry level Canyon tours working for the worst operator out there, etc. After 6 years and 3000 hours later, he can now try to get an EMS job. However, he is competing against those with 3000-7000 hours, previous EMS jobs, who are unemployed. Who will get the job????

Do not give up your dream. Realize that you will spend 3-5 years trying to build time to meet just MINIMUM requirements for your EMS job. Then if you get it, you will start at $50,000-60,000 in todays dollars. It is worth it??? Good luck and fly safe.
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Forums > JH Alternate Forum > General Helicopter Discussion > EMS pilots, time to til you got your job.



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