Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Helicopter - Private Pilot Certificate

Helicopter Navigation:  Why Learn Helicopters | Costs | Private Pilot Helicopter | Commercial Pilot Helicopter | Glossary | Helicopter Ground School SFAR73 | Accelerated IFR Rating | Flight Training for Veterans

How do I get a helicopter pilots license? 

To become a pilot, you'll establish a relationship with a helicopter instructor.  You will do some flight training, and some ground training.  Flight training consists of actual flying, such as practicing takeoffs, landings, autorotations, steep turns, and ground reference maneuvers.  Ground training consists of learning things while on the ground, like aerodynamics, airplane performance, weather, and aviation physiology.  After training some with an instructor, you will be able to 'solo' which is flying by yourself.  You can't carry passengers when you solo, but you can go up and practice without an instructor in the airplane with you. 

Get started with your training with a  Helicopter Pilot Ground School.   Students seeking a rating are required to prove US Citizenship and Flight Instructors must examine and keep a copy of a US Birth Certificate, US Passport, or Naturalization papers.   Citizens of other countries are required to register with the Transportation Security Administration prior to beginning training.  Information for foreign students.Schweizer 300CBi

What are the requirements for the Helicopter Private Pilot certificate?

Private Pilot - Helicopter FAA Rating Requirements
  • Minimum 17 Years Old to Take Flight Test (age 16 for Student Pilot & Solo) 
  • Must Read, Write, Understand, and Speak English 
  • Obtain a FAA Medical Certificate (Prior to first Solo Flight) 
  • Complete 40 hours Minimum Flight Time Including 10 hrs of Solo Flight
  • Tests:
    • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test 
    • Pass an FAA Written Knowledge Test
40 Hours (Minimum) Total Pilot Time in Helicopters Must Include
  • 30 hours of "dual" flight instruction and 10 hours of "solo" flight 
  • 3 hours of dual cross-country flight training 
  • 3 hours dual instruction at night
  • 10 hours of Required "Solo" Flight Must Include: 
    • One (1) 75NM cross-country Solo flight with one (1) 25NM leg
    • At least 3 hours of Cross-Country Solo flight 
    • 3 Solo Take-offs & Landings at an Airport with an Operating Control Tower 

What is the average length of time it takes to get the Helicopter Private Pilot certificate?

40-60 hours

What if I already have an Airplane Pilot Certificate (Private, Commercial, ATP)?

You'll take the helicopter instruction as an add-on rating.  You are not required to take the FAA Private Helicopter written exam and the minimum number of total required dual training hours is reduced. 

Requirements for Pilots WITH airplane pilot certificates

  • Already hold a Private (or higher) Pilot Certificate 
  • Hold a Current 3rd. Class (or higher) FAA Medical Certificate 
  • Complete 30 hours Minimum Flight Time Including 10 hrs of Solo Flight 
  • NO FAA WRITTEN Exam
  • Pass an FAA Oral and Practical Flight Test

What is the average length of time it takes to get the add-on Helicopter Private Pilot certificate?

30-50 hours



New Students

     How to Save Money on your Flight Training
     My Teaching Beliefs
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     Pledge to Flight Students
     FAA Aviation Safety Program - additional aviation education opportunities

Becoming a Private Pilot Articles:

Why become a pilot?    Maybe you've been dreaming about it since you were little.  Maybe it's the ultimate challenge.  Maybe it's the confidence booster that can define your life… more

What it means to be a pilot   As a pilot, you'll join the ranks of those less bound by conventional limits on time, distance and personal freedom.   more

Why Pilots are Amazing People  After training hundreds of students, I discovered a key in life.  A background in Counseling Psychology makes an interesting combination with being a flight instructor.  The result is a different approach to flight training.  more

Frequently asked questions about getting started    If you're like millions of Americans, at some point in your life, perhaps when you were stuck in traffic and saw an airplane buzz overhead, you've thought, "I wonder what it takes to BE A PILOT?"  more

FAQS:  Becoming a private pilot   How much will it cost to get my Private Pilot Certificate?  How long will it take to get my certificate? Is it safe? Do I have to be in excellent physical condition?  What about my eye sight? What can I do with a pilot certificate? What can't I do with a private pilot certificate? Does my private pilot certificate expire? Will I have the same instructor all the way through?  more

FAA's Student Pilot Guide  The FAA's Advisory Circular for Student Pilots, includes topics on QUESTIONS MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED,  STUDENT PILOT REQUIREMENTS MEDICAL AND STUDENT PILOT CERTIFICATES, STUDENT PILOT TRAINING, PREPARING TO STUDY FOR THE KNOWLEDGE TEST more

Getting Started & Training Sequence  Getting Started as a Private Pilot:  If you're serious... Make a commitment.  more        

How to select a flight instructor    How you choose your instructor is a very personal decision.  While no instructor can meet your every criterion, here are some general tips to help you choose. more

Advice to new student pilots    If you've made the decision to learn how to fly, your next consideration should be how/where to get training.  The following is a set of tips derived from my research into flight training... more

How to save money on your flight training    If you're like me, I spent too much on flight training.  I wish I knew some tips to reduce my overall cost.  Here's what I learned...  more

Thinking of an Airline Career?  A lot of people think that you can apply for a pilot job at JetBlue, and they will train you to be a pilot.  Unfortunately that's not true. more

Pilots are very special people by John King  Pilots are very special people. Here's why.  First, pilots aren't quitters.  In spite of what the ads used to say  in the 1950's, it is difficult to learn to fly.  more

About Checkrides - When the topic of "the checkride" comes up with my students, it is usually met with some fear.  This is one of those topics that .... more

Information for Foreign Students  Students seeking a rating are required to prove US Citizenship and Flight Instructors must examine and keep a copy of a US Birth Certificate, US Passport, or Naturalization papers.   Citizens of other countries are required to register with the Transportation Security Administration prior to beginning training.  more





"Science, freedom, beauty, adventure... aviation offers it all." --Charles A. Lindbergh

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All content is Copyright 2002-2010 by Darren Smith. All rights reserved. Subject to change without notice. This website is not a substitute for competent flight instruction. There are no representations or warranties of any kind made pertaining to this service/information and any warranty, express or implied, is excluded and disclaimed including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Under no circumstances or theories of liability, including without limitation the negligence of any party, contract, warranty or strict liability in tort, shall the website creator/author or any of its affiliated or related organizations be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages as a result of the use of, or the inability to use, any information provided through this service even if advised of the possibility of such damages. For more information about this website, including the privacy policy, see about this website.