To become a helicopter pilot, you'll need civilian or military flight training, flying time and passing scores on Federal Aviation Administration licensing exams. The FAA licensing levels include student, private, commercial, flight instructor and instrument. However, the minimum for a professional helicopter pilot is a commercial license with a helicopter rating, reports the Science Buddies website. Flight training and exams are difficult, but you can prepare for the challenge with the right high school classes.
Ready to Read
The minimum requirements for pilot licensing include the ability to read, write, speak and understand English, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Even if English is your native language, you'll still need to study hard in high school English classes to prepare for helicopter licensing. As a student pilot, you'll need to read and understand highly technical material to master topics such as aeronautics. In addition, passing FAA exams requires reading difficult problems and solving them through critical thinking. Take advanced placement English if possible to develop the high level of proficiency you'll need.
Ready to Calculate
High school math classes help you understand the science of flight and perform the calculations necessary to fly a helicopter. For example, pilots use math to compute fuel consumption in relation to speed, distance traveled or total weight with passengers and baggage. Take basic math if you need a review of arithmetic calculations, including multiplication and division. Classes in trigonometry, first year algebra, geometry and second year algebra will give you the skills you'll need to calculate flight paths, for example. If available at your school, take more advanced classes, such as analytic geometry, calculus or statistics.
Ready to Fly
The science of flying, called aeronautics, has its basis in physics. Take high school physics classes so you're prepared for pilot training on how a solid moves through air. For example, you'll learn the forces that affect helicopter flight, such as lift, drag and thrust. In addition, physics forms the basis for mechanics, essential to understanding the operation of the helicopter, and aviation meteorology. Meteorology, the science of weather, is also part of pilot training programs and figures on FAA certification exams.
Fit for Training
You'll be required to pass a medical exam from an FAA-approved physician to get your student license, so maintain a healthy body through physical education classes or high school sports. Physical activity in high school will also give you the stamina to complete your training and work as a pilot. Take computer classes and applied technology classes, if available at your high school, to get ready to master modern helicopter instrument panels. In addition, participate in group extracurricular activities to develop the team spirit you'll need in your future job as helicopter pilot.
- Professional Helicopter Pilot's Association: Becoming a Helicopter Pilot
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association: How Do I Become a Pilot
- Federal Aviation Association: Helicopter Pilot Sample Questions
- Science Buddies: Pilot -- Key Facts & Information
- Flight Sim Pilot Program: Aviation Math Questions
- Swinburne University of Technology: Aviation Mathematics
- Mt. San Antonio College; Commercial Flight Major
- Aims Community College: Helicopter Pilot Option -- Associate of Applied Science Degree
- University of California, Berkeley: The Physics of Flight
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Airline and Commercial Pilots
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