How many hours should I figure on?
Hello, to all of you helicopter enthusiasts out there! Whether you are looking to fly helicopters as a career, or are just looking to fly for fun, we can help. Below is a list of costs, as well as some things that we feel are important reasons to give us a try.
On a personal note I started back in 2011 when I was 20 years old. I went to lessons every Monday and Friday (8:00-10:00 A.M.), and worked landscaping the rest of the week. Helicopter training is not cheap; I understand! I spent a little over $75,000 to get to CFI. It is rewarding, but it is also a large responsibility. Think of it this way: you just got your drivers license and you want to take the car for a spin. Would dad hand you the keys to the $300,000+ Ferrari? Side note: a Ferrari only moves in 2 dimensional spaces, and the insurance premium is likely a lot lower, but I digress. You also don't have to talk on the radio, worry about multiple gauges, comply with orders from a controller, and so on. There is a lot to learn and it will take longer than 40 hours to do it, but the question then becomes how bad do you want the license? If you want it bad enough to study hard, practice, memorize, and work to get the cash to pay for it you can make it. If you don't want to...well maybe as instructors (or parents in my above scenario) we should not be so eager to hand over the keys to that expensive exotic vehicle then!
While many schools advertise the FAA minimum hour requirement in their pricing (40 hours), I will tell you that most student pilots are not ready in this time period. If it was me I would figure on double, and then be pleasantly surprised if it's less. This is for the private pilot test of course, as you are starting from scratch. The commercial will be a lot closer to the FAA minimum.
We are happy you considered us. We know that you are bound to have questions that you would like to have answered; please email us and we will be more than happy to discuss them with you.
What are your rates?
Our rate is probably one of the best in the country, and definitely one of the least expensive in the Midwest.
R22 Helicopter: $185 per hour
Fuel: 9 gallons per hour at the current rate ( at the time of this writing it was $4.65 per gallon) $41.85
Instructor: $50 per hour
Total $276.85 **Always call for the most current pricing
Many other schools advertise "low rates", and then tack on extras like credit card processing fees. A rate of $265 with just a 3% processing fee just became nearly $273.00!
Our rate includes all of those "hidden fees".
How are your instructor's paid?
Our instructors are paid by the hour. Some schools give you a price with an instructor included, but one of the dirty little secrets of flight schools is that many times the CFI is getting hosed. What do I mean? One way is that the CFI is only paid for the time he/she is in the helicopter with you, but the school still charges you for the full time they were with you. Let me give you an example. Pretend you are a sales rep and you drive to meet some clients. You have a 45 minute drive to get there, and you have 2 separate meetings, each of which is blocked out for 2 hours. You pull up and see the first guy in the parking lot so you start discussing the business and answering questions. This takes about 45 minutes as well. Then, you both take the elevator up to a conference room, and spend an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes with him. This is repeated in the second meeting. Between the travel and the meetings you just spent 5 and a half hours of your day. However, when you get back your boss will only pay you for the time you were in the conference room with clients (two and a half hours). Oh sure, he is still charging the clients for the full time, but you are not being paid. Now, what happens if the elevator broke and you had to take the stairs, or the client wanted to ask a bunch of questions in the lobby instead of the conference room? Needless to say at the end of the week your pay check would be slim, also that they can try and keep their rates low? Sounds like they may need a new business model.
We feel that if you worked for this company you would probably not be very happy, and if you are not happy then you would probably not offer the best customer support and service.
That's why we find different ways to keep the costs low: technology, maintaining low overhead, and no top heavy management.
This allows us to still remain one of the lowest rates in the country, while still paying our instructors for the time that they put in to your success.
Do I still have to pay for the instructor when I am soloing?
With some of schools in the area the answer to this question is "yes". HOWEVER, here at Rent A Copter the answer is "NO". You only pay for the first hour or so of your solo flights when the instructor is standing there watching to make sure nothing happens. After that, when the instructor is not there, you don't pay for them! Think about that; that drops your solo rental rate to around $225 an hr!!!! Not many (if any) places can say that!
Do you offer block time?
This is a question we get a lot. Many schools offer substantial discounts if you pay up front. But did you ever stop to ask yourself why? The main reason is that they are guaranteed that their school is the only school you will be using so they start you out with (in our opinion) a ridiculously high rate, and then say "if you buy 40 hours up front we will give you a good rate". Here at Rent A Copter we would rather offer you that low rate first, and then earn your repeat business every time you come in; but hey maybe it's just us.
For renters from time to time we will offer ways to get additional discounts (for example fly 25 hours in 6 months and get 8% off). This is because we know that you like aviation as much as we do, but we also know it can get expensive so it's our way of helping.
Who asks about insurance when you want to lean how to fly? Well, it turns out that maybe we should. Helicopter insurance is very different from airplane insurance so even if you're not completely new to aviation you will most likely still find this section useful. To start with, as a general rule the industry standard deductible for helicopters is 10% of the helicopter price. For example, a $310,000 helicopter would have a $31,000 deductible, and if you just go to a school and start signing papers, one of the papers you just signed said something along the lines of "the deductible may change without notice", and the "renter/trainee is responsible for all of the deductible".
Now lets say, heaven forbid, something happens; you are on the hook legally for that deductible of somewhere around $31,000!!!
When we found out about this we found the most economical way to lower the deductible (a group renters policy) that reduces the deductible to $2000. Ask us about this when you come in. We offer this coverage to our customers for around $2 a day. An individual policy (if you were to try to obtain this from some where else) would cost in the neighborhood of $32 per day.
If you are already going somewhere else, or you are out of state, you may want to inquire about what your deductible liability actually is!!!!!!!!!!!!
Most aircraft rental places don't care (or they don't even know what their policy says), because after all you are on the hook not them.
What else might be different between you and your competitors?
Here is a short list:
Our primary instructional aircraft is a well maintained 2013 Robinson R22. It has NO CORROSION, THE ENGINE IS CLEAN; and THERE IS NOT EXCESSIVE OIL, GREASE, OR FOREIGN DEBRIS. We have pride of ownership which we demonstrate through the care and cleaning of our equipment. Not everyone does that.
Our hanger is heated. While this might sound a little silly to anyone new to aviation, trust us it's a huge benefit. Up here in the northern United States it can be very cold in the winter which can make pre-flight of the helicopter quite unpleasant.
We offer flexible instructor scheduling. We almost always have an instructor available to you. We fly 7 days a week year round. The obvious exceptions to this are weather permitting and federal holidays. You are NOT forced into taking one day and sticking to it. As your schedule changes you are free to rotate so you can fit in the flight training where it is most convenient for you. We only ask that if someone has already scheduled that day that you do your best to pick a slot on either side to minimize the instructors down time. For example, someone is on 10-12 on a Thursday we ask that you try to either take 8-10 or 12-2 (the slot on either side).
We offer online bill pay and scheduling. Once you start we will set you up an account and you will have access to online scheduling, bill pay, and invoices past and present. It's as easy as ordering something off of eBay or Amazon, and best of all you are the only one who sees your credit card information.
Are you new to flying or you don't see your question listed?
We were all new to aviation at one time. If you don't see your question listed feel free to email us, and we will do our best to answer it as well as possibly list it here so that others can have the answer too.
Remember this is questions you may have about choosing a school.