New to the Hangar- Military CH-47 pilot
Hey everyone I am looking for some info on pre-retirement training.  I have my Commercial Rotory wing with instrment rating and looking for some ways to serve after  retire from the military.  I have heard of groups providing flights for families to see wounded soldiers, etc that simply need pilots to fly the missions.  I also want to get my fixed wing rating so I can volunteer and get my flying fix of course.  Currently I am looking for scholarships or programs that can help out with the financial side of getting the rating but everything I have found disqualifies anyone that already has a rating.  Lets face it, the helicopter license is useless with only 1,000hrs.  Any help or direction would be great.  BTW the GI BIll is not an option, sorry. 
8 Replies
Chris, et al.,
there are many positive opportunities for you.  1. The fact you already have your ratings, another option for you would be to have a helicopter tourism business.  If you stay in your current city or move to a larger city, you could take people on flights to see the sights of Illinois or where ever else you might be moving to later.  The issued of forced retirement from an airline would not impact you.  Even if you decided to stop flying later, then you can still run the business and help provide jobs for other retiring Veteran pilots who are asking the identical questions as you are to us today.

First, you want to determine where you will live after retirement.  Start researching the tourism companies in Illinois (or elsewhere) and by visiting these companies, you get an idea of their business model, their fees/rates/other costs of running the business/creative ideas, and you can see how they set up their webpages.  When you begin this review, start off by bookmarking all types of fixed/rotary wing competition.  For example, some flight schools also take passengers on flights over major cities for sightseeing, but not really for instructional purposes.

LIGHT SPORT HELICOPTER INSTRUCTOR: you might not realize it, but for Light Sport Aviation just for the fixed wing, a pilot with only 150-hours can become a Sport Certificate Instructor and never have to earn the MEI, Instrument, Commercial, or CFI ratings.  You need to start researching the options to become an instructor (not a CFI) and have the ability to share your passion for helicopters, but on the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) side.  See:

As you are near three different states, then this means you can draw possible students from those areas if you stayed in the same place.

The national pilot shortage can be something you can help to resolve by assisting new pilots to get their very first ratings.  As your LSA HELICOPTER SCHOOL gets more and more successful, then you could have larger helicopters beyond the LSA requirements.  As those helicopters are far more expensive to operate, your unique business gets students flying for far less than other flight schools.  Once a student earns that first rating, their skills, and their confidence, they are far more likely to advance.  You can create positive opportunities and educate people about the benefits of LSA compared to traditional flight schools.


3. Become a Basic Ground School Instructor or Advanced Ground School Instructor.  You can buy the book from or other similar companies.  It is the same "instructor" book/DVD/videos.  This does not have you flying, but it is another option for earning money WITHOUT BECOMING A CFI.  You already have these skills, therefore, you need to buy the training materials and then take the exam.  From your profile, I would say you already know mots of this information and you can breeze through the exam!


4. Agape: this group does mission flights you can help on:


5. You can start a flight club for retiring Veterans to help these others find their new goals just as you are seeking to do today.  Your group needs to be professional, helpful, encouraging, and once you start planning it out, then determine other "stakeholders" (interested groups/persons/parties/companies/organizations) who have overlapping pursuits.  You can and should include working with the DEPT OF ECON DEVELOPMENT from your particular state because they will have specific ideas to help you to help others.


6. Learn if there are any nearby aviation museums and help them with their military aviation collection as that would be good fun.  You are not likely to earn money doing this work, but as long as you like to volunteer, it can be rewarding.  Here in Kentucky, we have the Aviation Museum of KY in Lexington, KY (Blue Grass Airport, KLEX) and they have a wonderful collection.


7. There is a dunker training facility that teaches the skills you learned for being a helicopter pilot.  One of their locations is at Fort Campbell, KY and another is in the northeast.  They teach other survival skills.  They have a third location by Fort Rucker.

Groton Training Center, 144 Tower Avenue, Groton, CT 06340

860-405-0002, 888-386-5371,

8.  Chris, if you have a business plan/concept, brainstorming it with others is important to resolving any issues.  The Small Business Administration has centers around the nation and their program is called SCORE (Senior Corps Of Retired Executives).  They specifically try to help in the creation of new/existing businesses.  It allows retirees to help answer questions because they strive to match you up with a mentor that already has experience in that field.


9. Find other organizations such as any Veteran Military Pilots Groups because you will have a strong bond/familiarization with these folks over just joining a group of civilians who don't understand the fraternal bond you feel with fellow soldiers/Veterans.  This helps you avoid the "culture shock" of returning to the civilian world.  You need friends who can relate to you and to the strong degree of professionalism you likely seek, need, and want.


10. MEDICAL FLIGHTS: there are some organizations that help transport donated organs and they must rapidly be flown from one hospital to another within a short period of time.  I don't have the names of these companies, but here in Louisville, KY; we have heart transplants, hand/leg transplants, and much more.  These flights are happening all of the time.  Start by contacting the American Red Cross.


Find employment with pipeline companies that must fly over their pipelines around the nation.  I don't have any names right now, but I have met a few of these types of pilots over the years.  This is something you already have the ratings and skills to do NOW.


Chris, I hope this list helps you realize that your military skills absolutely have a positive place in the future civilian life.  Already, there are opportunities for you without having to earn new ratings.  The Basic Ground Instructor/Advanced Ground Instructor materials are on and it is listed in their TEST PREP 2018 materials.  Get this rating and then also get the information about becoming a LSA Helicopter Instructor.  It is part of the same DVD from

Chris, you have valuable skills to share with others.  Be confident that others respect and appreciate your knowledge.

Best wishes,
Brennan Callan
Aeronautical Scientist / Certified Underwater Archaeologist
Astronautic Spaceflight Training and Research Organization (ASTRO), LLC.
Former member of KY Air National Guard.

Ronald Levy
945 Posts
There are a number of regional airlines now funding RW->FW conversion programs to populate the right seats of their RJ's.  Here's one:
Sorry if I was misleading but I am looking to get the fixed wing rating mostly for personal use.  I have been approached about organizations that simply need pilots to fly their planes and get family members to wounded soldiers at various medical facilities.  The plane and fuel are provided but the plane owners simply don't have the time to fly the missions.  Thanks for any help.
I have found Pilots for Christ International to be a great outlet for my charitable flying. They have local chapters around the country. If you are thinking of retiring to Florida, the Servant Air Ministries International Chapter flying out of Merritt Island would be a great one to consider. We have a 172, a Beech Sierra and an Aztec that we use for instruction and mercy/mission flights. Our 172 has flown all over the Caribbean serving many humanitarian needs. Of course, you need to be a Christian believer but the cost of the 172 and the cost of our instruction is way below market price. Sam Parsons
Mark Masse
4 Posts
Can’t help you on transition training funding, but I’m not sure having only 1000 helo hours is useless...Metro Aviation (medevac helos) only require 1000 hours for SIC (co-pilot) duties:
Bill Ervin
29 Posts
Have you looked into a flying job after retirement.   Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Branch is looking for pilots big time.  They've dropped the 37 age requirement in some cases as well.  I know you think that 1000 hours isn't worth anything, but there is a pilot shortage.... its real,   I talked to the guys at Oshkosh this year (I'm former Legacy Border Patrol) and the A&M side said they are hurting just like everyone else.
Chris;  If you are near any GA airport with an instructor, you should be able to get you fix wing rating with little effort.  You have most requirements and only need to become familiar
with the FW type of flying and take a Flight test from a DIA.  Since we are near Ft Riley, over the years we have been able to get many the fix wing, and in fact one of about 6 years
ago is flying right seat in a 337 for a major airline.  One that appears to be misleading was with reference to a Light Sport Helicopter which is not possible since helicopters are not
covered under the Light Sport umbrella.  Check with a local Flight Examiner to see just what each wants, because many do not see the need for such requirements as FAR 61.107
requires.  Normally about 15 hours and oral preparation is all it takes and then the flight check.

In our area there always seems to be a need for medevac pilots so there should be a valid consideration there.  Best of luck to you, and thank you for your service.  Jim Price
You can fly offshore rigs out of Houston with 1000 hrs.

BTW, there is no such thing as a Light Sport Helicopter.  It's either a legitimate ultralight, or a fully certificated helo requiring a regular rotorcraft rating.