Training

Learn to fly

Our location in Southwest Florida allows for year-round training. In addition, this area offers many housing options, as well as recreational opportunities. Fishing, boating and golf are some of the popular activities enjoyed by visitors to the region. Disney World in Orlando is less than two hours by car. Miami and Fort Lauderdale, on the east coast of the state, are only about a 3 hour drive.

Florida Suncoast Helicopters is fortunate to be operating in the controlled environment of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). This provides the student with an additional flight-training benefit, the opportunity to learn communication and navigation skills in real-world conditions.

Whether one is interested in beginning a career in rotorcraft or is a high time, fixed-wing pilot, interested in an add-on rating, Florida Suncoast Helicopter staff would like to help in achieving that goal. We also offer transition training to the Robinson R-44, R66, and Bell 206.

Frequently asked questions

  1. I’m thinking of learning to fly helicopters. How do I start?
  2. I’m not sure I want to fly. Can I take an introductory flight?
  3. Do I have to have my airplane pilot’s license before I start helicopter training?
  4. I think I want to get both my fixed wing and rotorcraft rating. Which should I start first?
  5. Hey! I fly airplanes. Does this mean I shouldn’t learn to fly a helicopter?
  6. How old do I have to be to start training?
  7. Well then, how old do I have to be to get my pilots certificate (license)?
  8. What is a “private” pilot certificate and what can I do with that?
  9. I’m thinking of a career as a helicopter pilot. What do I have to do now?
  10. What next? I’m a low-time commercial pilot what can I do?
  11. What if I have some sort of medical issue?
  12. I’m a citizen of another country. Can I take instruction in the United States?
  13. I’m all ready to go. What should I bring for my first flight?
  14. I’m a big guy and those helicopters look tiny. Will I be able fly?
  15. Are helicopters more dangerous than airplanes?
  16. Can I land my helicopter anywhere?
  17. Which is easier to fly an airplane or a helicopter?
  18. Is there a lot of ground study required?
  19. What type of work is there for a commercial pilot?
  20. Can a helicopter fly when it is windy?
I’m thinking of learning to fly helicopters. How do I start?

Call Florida Suncoast Helicopters, and we will set you up with one of our experienced flight instructors. When you come in for your first lesson, you and your instructor will be able to plan a course of action that will help you meet your goals.

I’m not sure I want to fly. Can I take an introductory flight?

Yes you can. We do offer an introduction flight. Time will be spent with your instructor before the flight learning the very basics of the flight controls. Then you will begin the flight portion of your lesson where YOU will get to fly the helicopter with the help of your instructor.

Do I have to have my airplane pilot’s license before I start helicopter training?

No you do not. Helicopters (rotorcraft) and Airplanes (fixed-wing) are considered two different categories by the FAA. Therefore, you do not need any fixed-wing experience to start training.

I think I want to get both my fixed-wing and rotorcraft rating. Which should I start first?

Start with the helicopter. The ingrained reactions of an airplane pilot can compromise your safety when flying a helicopter. Basically, people tend to revert back to their initial training in an emergency. These emergency “airplane” reactions can compromise your helicopter safety.

Hey! I fly airplanes. Does this mean I shouldn’t learn to fly a helicopter?

Not in the least bit. You can learn to fly a helicopter. It will just take a little extra effort from you and your instructor to break your airplane habits, but before you know it you will be a safe helicopter pilot.

How old do I have to be to start training?

You can start at any age. You just will not be able to fly the helicopter alone, or “solo” as they say until 16 years of age. You may not be old enough to get your license, but you and an instructor can still do all the dual flight instruction you want.

Well then, how old do I have to be to get my pilot’s certificate (license)?

A student pilot’s certificate can be issued to you at 16 allowing you to solo the aircraft and train towards all the requirements for a private pilot certificate. Then at 17 you can be eligible for a private pilot certificate.

What is a “private” pilot certificate, and what can I do with that?

A private pilot is someone who became a pilot for personal reasons such as fun or travel. You will not be able to fly for compensation (i.e. money, cows, goats or pigs), but you will be able to take up family and friends. Depending how often you fly you should be able to achieve a private rating in four to six months.

I’m thinking of a career as a helicopter pilot. What do I have to do now?

First you will have to achieve your private pilot rating. Then you will need to do additional instruction for your “commercial” certificate. Your commercial rating will allow you to fly for compensation. This will require more flight training along with more in depth ground school. Starting from zero pilot experience to your earning your commercial rating should take approximately a calendar year.

What next? I’m a low-time commercial pilot what can I do?

The most probable step is to become a CFI (certified flight instructor). Almost all non-military trained pilots were instructors at one point. CFI jobs are abundant all over the country, and they allow you to build time and experience while getting paid.

What if I have some sort of medical issue?

It depends on the medical issue and your goal (private, commercial, etc.), but it probably won’t be a problem. Talk to your instructor; be up front. They will know where to find the answer.

Also, you will be required to get a medical checkout from an FAA certified aviation doctor. A current medical is required for solo flight during training. We encourage you to schedule a medical early on in your flight instruction. Your instructor will help set you up with a flight doctor for a medical checkout.

I’m a citizen of another country. Can I take instruction in the United States?

Yes you can. You will just have to register with homeland security. Go to https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov/index.html and fill out the required paperwork.

I’m all ready to go. What should I bring for my first flight?

You will need to bring a passport or U.S birth certificate along with a photo ID. Everything else will be provided for you.

I’m a big guy and those helicopters look tiny. Will I be able fly?

The R22 has a maximum seat weight of 240lbs. If you are under that weight you are okay to start training.

Can I land my helicopter anywhere?

Yes and no. The FAA does not prohibit landings anywhere, but many cities may have an ordinance prohibiting landing your helicopter except in designated airports and heliports.

Other considerations also come into account such as the suitability of the area for take off and landing as well as the possibility of disturbing others with noise. During your training you will learn more about what you can and cannot do.

Which is easier to fly an airplane or a helicopter?

An airplane is usually easier to fly. An airplane almost “flies itself” while the helicopter requires constant pilot input.

Is there a lot of ground study required?

Yes, you will have to use books. Becoming a pilot involves more than just flying. You will learn about weather, aerodynamics, FAA regulations, airspace, and so on. In addition to studying on your own, you will receive one-on-one instruction with a qualified instructor.

What type of work is there for a commercial pilot?

There are many jobs for helicopter pilots. There are the jobs we all are familiar with such as air ambulance/EMS, tours, electronic news gathering (TV helicopters), flight instruction, and corporate pilots. There are also many jobs you may never have thought off such as; flying off shore to oil rigs, logging, pipeline patrol, aerial photography, and more.

Can a helicopter fly when it is windy?

Yes! Helicopters tend to fly noticeably smoother than an airplane in turbulent windy conditions.

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