The road to becoming a helicopter pilot can be very convoluted. Information on the subject can be sparse and confusing, and most of all it can be hard to find a person you can talk to and ask questions.

Getting a medical certificate

The first thing you will need to get taken care of is to get a medical certificate. You will need to locate an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). Use Designee Locator Search (faa.gov) tool to locate one near you. You will also need to make sure you are eligible to apply for a pilot certificate:

Student Pilot Certificate (SPC)
Be at least 16 years old.
Be fluent at reading, writing, and speaking English.
Be able to provide proof of identity.
Be able to qualify for and obtain an FAA medical certificate.

Private Pilot License (PPL)
Be at least 17 years old.
Be fluent at reading, writing, and speaking English.
Be able to provide proof of identity.
Be able to qualify for and obtain an FAA medical certificate.

Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
Be at least 18 years old.
Be fluent at reading, writing, and speaking English.
Be able to provide proof of identity.
Be able to qualify for and obtain an FAA medical certificate.

Notice that the requirements are the same for each certificate/license except for the minimum age. When you know that you are medically within the standards of the FAA, you can continue on your path towards becoming a pilot.

Getting your student pilot certificate

This step is taken care of with a flight instructor (CFI) through IACRA - Federal Aviation Administration (faa.gov). They will help you submit an IACRA 8710 application, which is an application for a pilot certificate. You can begin flight training without a student pilot certificate, but you are not able to fly solo in a helicopter without one. That means without a student pilot certificate, you are not able to complete a course and become a private pilot (PPL). A student pilot certificate never expires, so there is no rush in completing flight training within a specified time period.

The path to private pilot

As a private pilot, you are able to fly a helicopter by yourself and with other people in the aircraft. The biggest limitation as a private pilot is that you in general are not able to fly for compensation or hire. There are exceptions to this rule, which will be covered in a lesson during your training.

The is a long list of requirements you need to meet in order to become a private pilot:

40 hours of total flight time.
20 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor.
3 hours of cross-country flight in a helicopter.
3 hours of night flight training.
One night cross country flight of at least 50 nautical miles.
10 take-offs and 10 landings.
3 hours of flight training preparing specifically for the practical test.
10 hours of solo flight time in a helicopter.
3 hours of solo cross country flight time.
One solo cross-country flight of at least 75 nautical miles total distance, with landings on at least 3 points, and one segment of the flight being at least 25 nautical miles between take-off and landing.
3 take-offs and 3 landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower.
Pass a written test.
Pass an oral test.
Pass a practical flight test.

The road from there

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