12 Steps to Becoming a Pilot!

  • 1. Select your Flight Training School

    Gather the information together so you can make an informed choice.  Make contact with previous students.  Get confirmation of the schools integrity and success first hand from past students.  (Check out our References and Testimonials Pages).

    It helps to obtain a list of helicopter schools.  The most comprehensive and totally independent list is from Australian Aviation Magazine.  Phone: +61 2 6280 0111.  Also look at www.casa.gov.au for some more Australian schools.

  • 2. Have a Trial Instructional Flight (TIF)

    If you haven’t experienced a helicopter flight yet, take the opportunity to have a trial instruction flight before making the ultimate decision.  It is important that you are sure that the world of helicopters is for you.  Let’s face it, if you were going to spend AUD $50,000 on a new car you’d take it for a spin.  So make sure you meet the team and go for a flight.  A TIF is either a 60 minutes or 30 minutes flight with 45 minutes of ground time.

  • 3. Raising Finance

    Raising Finance

    How to raise finances - for pilots
    • How do I get the money together for my Helicopter Licence?–The most frequently asked question we receive

    Saving Tips – Each little bit helps

    • For birthdays and Christmas forget the socks and jocks, and make it known that you’d appreciate a pilot bag, log book, headset, textbook, equipment, DVD (the list goes on). We can advise you of the things you need to complete your licence.
    • Don’t rent “New Release” DVDs, the late fees hurt! Rent the $1-3 a week ones or read a helicopter book or novel instead!!
    • “Pay yourself first”. Commit a nominated amount out of your pay cheque every  pay.  Pick an amount for more than what you think you can save. It is amazing just how you make ends meet when you have to.  Have an automatic bank payment set up to your savings account, or have your boss keep this amount out of your pay packet, to pay separately in to your savings account.  It is amazing that if you don’t “SEE” the $$$ you won’t even miss them and you’ll be amazed how quickly the balance grows.
    • If you have any loans pay them weekly or fortnightly. You’ll save a bucket in interest and you’ll pay the loan back well before its time.
    • Save those coins. Put them in a jar and don’t take any sneak loans, they add up, when you have enough to buy a text book, DVD, or flying equipment it will save you in the long run, or bank it.

    Speaking of Loans

    Tips on Bank Finance. Generally a Borrower must:

    • Be over 18 years old and have a good clean credit rating.
    • Be able to reflect the ability to repay the loan ie you MUST have an income sufficient to service loan repayments, current commitments, and a normal lifestyle.   If you don’t have these abilities at present, you will need to borrow the money jointly with a Guarantor, usually a family member.

    Borrowing Amount

    • In many cases banks may offer “unsecured” (no collateral just a contract and signature) personal loans for small amounts (say up to $10-20,000.00).  Anything over that amount requires “security” or “collateral”.
    • Requested security will usually be in the form of a mortgage over real estate.  In some cases Banks can ask for a “Guarantor”  as the security where, say a parent (or both), signs for responsibility should the loan not be repaid.  In doing so they are mortgaging their assets for your loan.

    What happens at a Bank Loan Interview?

    Complete an application for finance and take it to the interview.  The information the Banks will want to see include:

    • Confirmation of your income pay-slips or a letter from your employer
    • Confirmation of your personal details, address, and age. Take your licence
    • Your assets – Make sure you list everything.  Assets include furniture and house contents, bikes, cars, real estate, superannuation, shares, bank accounts, etc Banks usually take 20% off your estimated value of goods….just in case you think that snappy jacket is better than they can sell it for!!
    • Your current liabilities ie loans, credit cards, tax, rent etc

    The National Australia Bank do “Student Loans” Ph: 13 22 65

    Other tips

    Loans can be tailored in some cases to meet your needs. If possible get your loan, Interest Only for 1-2 years and then Interest Plus Principle. This gives you some breathing space in the early days. Some personal loans can be taken over 7 years. Interest rates are the lowest they have been for decades and are an attractive option to beat rising prices and inflation, (and the GST!) BUT ARE ONLY VIABLE if you foresee that you have the ability to repay the loan.

    GST and Your Training

    GST Rate

    As of the 1st July 2000 the Australian Federal Government introduced a goods and services tax of 10% on all goods and services.

    GST Free Training

    Becker Helicopters is an accredited Registered Training Organisation, which means our commercial training (CPL) course is GST free. This includes our theory and any endorsements or ratings done within the scope of a commercial course.

    Not GST Free

    Training which is not completed as part of the commercial CPL course, are NOT GST free.

    • Private pilots licence only, including theory.
    • Other advanced training conducted post licence.

    Quick Tip

    The bottom line is this, do a commercial licence and do as much within the course as you can afford (for example, Night VFR, Turbine, Sling, Low Flying) and you will minimise the amount of GST you will have to pay.

  • 4. Pass your Aviation Medical

    For a Private Pilots Licence (PPL) you need a Class 2 Medical certificate.
    For a Commercial Helicopter Licence (CPL) you need a Class 1 (One) Medical certificate. If you are an international student please try to get your medical done in your home country prior to arriving in Australia. The CASA web site has a list of all the Designated Medical Examiners available both here in Australia and Overseas. A Class One is renewed annually and a Class Two is renewed every 4 years.

  • 5. Enrol

    You need to complete an enrolment form. This provides us with important information so that we can schedule your training and plan for your arrival.
    You can complete the enrolment form by either:

    • Filling in the online enrolment form
    • Filling in the enrolment form provided in the Information Pack and either mailing or faxing the completed form.

    Once you have received a letter of offer and have been accepted into one of our courses, you will need to pay your Enrolment Fee.

  • 6. Plan your Arrival

    We recommend that you arrive at the school at least 1 to 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the theory course start date. This will allow you to do a few hours of flying prior to the course. We will also give you some pre-reading course material to give you a kick-start. It also gives you time to arrange accommodation, buy a few supplies and get the paper work cleared away.

  • 7. Start your Flight Training - Obtain your ASIC

    Once you arrive, we start putting together all the paperwork you need to get started. It is essential to organise your ASIC (Aviation Security ID Card).  Flying prior to the theory course commencing will give you some invaluable practical knowledge to apply to your theory. You get valuable radio work, and have a working knowledge of how the collective relates to manifold pressure and RPM.
    This helps when answering and learning about these things.  The practical knowledge goes along way towards understanding your theory subjects.


    You need to have completed at least a Class 2 Aviation Medical before you can fly solo. This Licence allows you to fly SOLO in the local training area, under Supervision.

  • 8. Start your Theory and sit your Cyber Exams

    Your Theory training then begins and after 11-12 weeks you should have passed your CASA Theory Exams and be ready to move into full time flying training.

  • 9. Celebrate your first Solo!

    Its a special feeling that no pilot ever forgets – your first solo!
    This achievement is celebrated by all at a Bar-b-que, and you get a Certificate to commemorate the event. What a milestone!

  • 10. Sit and Pass your Pilot's Licence

    Private Pilots Licence
    This requires a minimum of 50 hours (if you do not hold a Fixed Wing PPL or CPL) and allows you to fly anywhere in Australia for pleasure, i.e. not for hire or reward.
    In other words, you can’t be paid for any flying that you do.  If you are going on to CPL, you will still sit this licence to prepare you for sitting the CPL – but we absorb your PPL flight test fees.

    Commercial Pilots Licence
    Australian CPL requires minimum 105 hours.  This is reduced to 70 hours if you hold an Australian PPL (A) or 60 hours if you hold an Australian CPL (A).

  • 11. Celebrate - Captain my Captain! Start your Career!

    Whew!  You’ve got your Commercial Helicopter Flight Licence! – Congratulations!  The paper work is sent into CASA and your licence is issued within 7-10 working days.  Captain your helicopter awaits!

    Time to approach the industry and find your first commercial pilot job.  There is no guaranteed career path with any helicopter training (word to the wise … be very cautious of any training school that promises you a job at the end of training).  Every pilot tells a different story about how they got their initial hours up.  For some practical advice for getting your career started, check out step 12!

  • 12. Employment!

    Foreword – Capt. Mike Becker (Chief Pilot/Chief Flight Instructor)

    Questions I am constantly asked (and understandably so) are:

    • What are the job prospects like if I do the training?
    • Can I get a job?

    These are good questions, and the answer is both simple and complicated. Yes you can get a job, but like any profession they need to be sought out and take a combination of the right qualifications, the right experience, being in the right place at the right time and having a good work ethic and good life attitudes.

    Historically there has never been a better time to be a civilian trained helicopter pilot. Back in the 1960’s there were over 60,000 helicopter pilots trained for the Vietnam conflict and most of the SAR/EMS corporate and other ‘good’ helicopter jobs were taken by these pilots. Today these pilots are approaching 60 years old, with retirement looming.  Since then there has not been a mass training of pilots. Pilots leaving the military today generally take a job with one of the airlines – opting for the bigger pay cheque, easier flying and more consistent work environment. This ultimately means more job prospects for you.

    Once you have completed your training (which normally takes about 6 months) you have a licence to practice. Be prepared for another 2-5 years of building experience, making contacts, and making yourself known.  Anything worthwhile takes time and effort and this is no different. Your first job may be as an ‘apprentice’ hanger sweeper, or bottle washer, but if it is in the aviation industry take it and only move on when you have another job in the industry to go to.

    Employers look for pilots that have a good attitude, are willing to work long hours and do the extra little things, rather than someone who thinks he/she is a hot shot pilot – that will come.

    So what do I say to someone who asks, ‘What are the job prospects once I get my CPL?’  I say – Short term getting a job is hard, you will have to be proactive and go looking.  Be willing to work for very little money, in remote locations doing menial tasks in support of someone else’s flying.  Remember though that throughout this time you will be gaining valuable aviation experience and contacts, and you are now learning (from the bottom up) what being a helicopter pilot is all about.  Long term (1000hrs flight time plus) the job scene is strong.  Set some goals, decide what type of flying you want to do and chase it.


    Helicopter Job Sites

    We are providing links to Helicopter Job Sites as a service to you.

    Please contact us if you discover a great source that we do not yet list, or a broken link.