How to become an army helicopter pilot (With skills)

Updated 7 May 2023

If you have an interest in aviation and want to pursue a military career, you may want to consider becoming an army pilot. As an army pilot, you can have the opportunity to participate in various missions, earn a competitive wage and occasionally relocate. Knowing what this job entails and how to apply for it can make it easier for you to meet the requirements. In this article, we describe what an army helicopter pilot does, explain how to become one, list the necessary skills and answer some frequently asked questions about pilots.

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What is an army helicopter pilot?

In the army, pilots are highly qualified aviation experts who operate cutting-edge aircraft and oversee a wide range of aviation missions. Army pilots also provide field and technical assistance to their fellow military personnel. Army pilots are responsible for various tasks, including directing aviation missions and assisting their fellow soldiers. They also assist in day-to-day activities and other military tasks. If you're interested in learning how to become an army helicopter pilot, here are some duties you might expect as an aviation officer or a warrant aviation officer in the army:

  • controlling flight platoons

  • operating army helicopters

  • carrying troops or engaging in strikes as part of various tasks

  • educating recruits on proper aviation procedures

  • transporting important persons and fellow soldiers

  • distributing supplies and equipment to appropriate locations

  • organising and leading army search and rescue activities

  • assisting fellow troops or military branches in combat

  • gathering intelligence using helicopters

  • performing special operations missions in aviation

Related: 13 types of jobs in the British armed forces (and salaries)

How to become an army helicopter pilot

To discover how to become an army helicopter pilot, first join the army and complete the numerous qualifications for this aviation profession. Due to the nature of the profession, you can finish education and training programmes to ensure that you may successfully accomplish your responsibilities. To become an army helicopter pilot, you can use the following steps to help guide you:

1. Join the army

To join the army, consult a recruiter. As a future army pilot, you have two options: completing your schooling and becoming a commissioned officer or enlisting in the army and meeting the requirements to become a warrant officer. Typically, enlistees are under the age of 35 and have a high school diploma.

Related: How long does it take to become a pilot? (With requirements)

2. Meet the requirements

To become an officer pilot, first apply to join the army as a soldier. After completing formal army officer training, pass the aviation aptitude, medical and flying tests. To become an army pilot, you may also want to meet the following extra requirements:

  • have the necessary citizenship

  • pass a fingerprint-based background check

  • be between the ages of 16 and 49

  • obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent

  • pass physical and written tests after completing basic and flying training

3. Complete basic combat training

Next, you may want to complete a basic training programme to learn fundamental combat skills. The Army Training Centre Pirbright provides the 14-week Common Military Syllabus training course. This course gradually improves individual and team skills that prepare recruits for Initial Trade Training, where they can master the specialised skills for their chosen army trade. The first phase of this training consists of sessions that teach about army values, weapons basics and terrain navigation. You may work with advanced weapon systems during the later phases of training.

Related: How much does it cost to become a pilot? (Skills and salary)

4. Attend Officer Candidate School

Before beginning pilot training, first complete Officer Candidate School and the Officer Candidate Course. As an enlisted member of the army who wants to be a pilot, you may first qualify as a warrant officer and attend Warrant Officer Candidate School. You may also pass flying physicals and score 90 or above on the Alternative Flight Aptitude Selection Test.

5. Enrol in aviation school

As a commissioned or warrant officer, it's necessary to go to flight school. Aviation school teaches you the necessary skills for flying with the army. As part of your training, you can learn how to control helicopters as you learn various flight manoeuvres. You may also learn how to handle aircraft instruments in numerous weather conditions by using flight simulators. Your final 14 weeks of training prepare you for combat missions. After training, a commissioned officer becomes an aviation officer, and a warrant officer becomes a warrant aviation officer.

Related: How to become a pilot in 4 steps (plus how much it costs)

Skills for an army pilot

To fulfil their tasks effectively, army pilots require a wide range of skills. Whether you gain them before pursuing this career or during training, these skills can help you achieve greater success in this field. The following are some of the talents that army pilots typically require:

  • Time management: Helicopter pilots have excellent time management skills to plan their schedules and itineraries efficiently.

  • Survival skills: Army pilots have good survival skills to survive missions and combat circumstances that are extremely risky. They rely on their survival skills to keep themselves and their comrades safe.

  • Tactical skills: Army pilots achieve their missions by employing various tactical skills. Some of these skills include weapons handling, rappelling and marching in formation.

  • Mathematics: Helicopter pilots use maths skills to calculate the length of their trips and make efficient and correct use of their varied equipment.

  • Communication: Helicopter pilots rely on their communication skills so they can speak with numerous professionals. They also communicate with employees at the main office.

  • Physical fitness and stamina: Due to the nature of the work, army pilots maintain a high level of physical fitness and endurance to carry out military operations and offer combat support.

  • Good vision: Pilots have uncorrected distance eyesight of no less than 20/70 in each eye to fly. Pilots can wear glasses, so it's a popular myth that you require perfect vision.

  • Excellent hearing: Excellent hearing is especially important for pilots, which is understandable considering the importance of being able to hear instructions and directives for your personal safety and the safety of others on board. Pilots, for example, cannot have a hearing loss of more than 35 decibels at 500, 1000 or 2000 Hz.

Related: How to become a helicopter pilot (with skills and salary)

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Frequently asked questions about helicopter pilots

The following are some frequently asked questions about helicopter pilots:

What are the maths skills for flying helicopters?

When piloting a helicopter, pilots apply a variety of maths skills. Common disciplines include algebra, trigonometry, geometry and calculus. Students can enrol in college maths classes or study independently utilising pilot-tailored books or study materials.

Can I go to university or flight school?

This depends on your personal choices and requirements. Pilot candidates might attend flying school instead of university. Flight schools may offer scholarships or opportunities to work as flight instructors. Flight schools may provide a chance to get a degree while also obtaining a pilot's licence. University may be the best option for those seeking a more generalist degree.

Related: FAQ: Qualifications to be a pilot (plus career paths)

How long does it take to get your licence?

Your helicopter licence is contingent on how frequently you attend classes and how often you practise. Students who fly part-time and put in 3 to 5 hours of practise per week can get their licence in less than a year. If you practise frequently, you can complete your licence in under eight months.

What is an instrument rating?

Instrument-rated pilots can fly in low visibility. Instrument meteorological conditions is another name for this. Pilots have a minimum of 40 hours of instrument flight time and 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilots in command to qualify.

What can I expect from a helicopter pilot course?

Prepare to finish your degree and meet all training requirements once you begin. Pilots continue to fly to perfect their skills, as their abilities can deteriorate without regular training. Pilots keep up to date on flight procedures and regulations and undergo regular evaluations. Depending on how frequently you can complete flying training, you can acquire a private licence in roughly three months. Pilots typically fly 2 to 3 times a week, in addition to classroom preparation. Pilots maintain their skill competency and build on previous lessons with classroom and flying instruction.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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