Enter your search term

Search by title or post keyword

Can a Felon Become a Helicopter Pilot?

Table of Contents

Our website is supported by our users. We sometimes earn affiliate links when you click through the affiliate links on our website

Contact us for Questions

When it comes to getting a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging. Previous careers often are gone.

Felons often believe nobody will hire them, but there are resources available as many employers have found that felons make good employees. However, they may have to be willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a helicopter pilot.

  • What is a Helicopter Pilot?
  • What Education/Training Does a Helicopter Pilot Need?
  • How Much Does a Helicopter Pilot Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Pilot


What is a Helicopter Pilot?

A helicopter pilot is a person trained to fly a helicopter which is a type of aircraft that uses rotating blades to fly.

A helicopter has a variety of purposes, including flying patients for critical medical care, carrying water to fight large fires, moving large objects, rescuing people in hard-to-reach areas, and reporting news and traffic.

There are different types, or privilege levels, of pilots, depending on the kind or aircraft they are certified to fly. For example, while learning to become a pilot, a person is a student pilot under the instructions of a flight instructor.

The various levels of a pilot after receiving certification from most basic to most advanced are:

  • Sport pilot who is authorized to fly only light aircraft
  • Recreational pilot who may fly aircraft up to 180 horsepower with four seats for pleasure
  • Private pilot who may fly for pleasure or business
  • Commercial pilot who may fly for compensation
  • Airline transport pilot who is authorized to fly a scheduled airline flight with passengers and/or cargo

There are specific characteristics of a successful helicopter pilot:

  • Ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Self-disciplined to focus on critical factors during flight
  • Detail-oriented
  • Can learn from mistakes
  • Good evaluation skills
  • Good communications and interpersonal skills to interact with flight and ground crews
  • Adept spatial orientation
  • Educated and knowledgeable
  • Confident
  • Good perceptual motor skills

What Education/Training Does a Helicopter Pilot Need?

Requirements to become a helicopter pilot involve attaining at least a commercial pilot’s license. This means advancing through the usual levels of pilot training of student, private, and commercial credentials.

In order to become a student pilot, a person must be at least 16 years old. There are no educational requirements to be a student pilot.

Ground school and flight training are both parts of attaining a pilot’s license.

Ground school covers the basic information a pilot needs, including:

  • Flight and aircraft operations procedures
  • Aeronautical knowledge of weather and regional patterns

Ground schools are located around the U.S. Some are in-person programs while others are offered online. An application for ground school typically requires only basic information.

Flight training consists of in-air flight time with an FAA-licensed pilot. An applicant must accumulate at least 40 hours of flight time, including ten hours of solo flying.

In order to obtain a student pilot certificate, an applicant must pass an aviation medical exam administered by an approved physician. An individual must also have health insurance for most flight training programs.

Following ground school and flight training, an applicant must take and pass the FAA written and flight exams.

Qualifying as a helicopter pilot also requires at least 1500 hours as a Pilot in Command (PIC) of a helicopter. In order to acquire those 1500 hours in a helicopter, a pilot can work as a flight instructor for helicopters, training flight students.

If this is the case, an instructor is allowed to count the same hours as an instructor that their student accumulates.

How Much Does a Helicopter Pilot Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that there are approximately 15,000 licensed helicopter pilots in the U.S. This occupation is expected to show a 3% growth by 2020.

A pilot’s salary depends on what type of license he or she has. A helicopter pilot may earn a median salary of $73,000, with many others earning more or less than that.

Their level of earnings will also depend on factors like years of experience and region of the country. A helicopter pilot working on the East or West coast tends to have a higher income than in other regions.

An Opportunity for Felons?

As long as a person’s felony is not drug- or alcohol-related, they are qualified by the FAA to become a helicopter pilot.

In order to become a helicopter pilot, a person must be “of good moral standing.”

A felon would have to provide detailed information regarding their felony, including the type of offense, how long ago the conviction was, and their efforts at rehabilitation and living an honest life since their release.

Another challenge for felons after becoming a helicopter pilot is when they look for a job.

In order to get an airport identity badge for a helicopter pilot’s position, a detailed history is required.  This includes a work history and criminal history records.

The background check is conducted through the FBI and involves a fingerprint identification.  Any gap in employment for more than six months in the past ten years must be explained.

This is a potential trouble spot for felons who have been locked up for a number of years.

The FAA recognizes particular disqualifying crimes for airport certification: unlawful possession or use of explosives or a weapon, interference with aircraft navigation, terroristic acts, treason, aggravated assault, sexual offenses, armed robbery, distribution of a controlled substance, and felony arson.

In order to be successful in their pursuit of being a helicopter pilot, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background because they are already viewed with the negative perception of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures because of their conviction.

Having their felony expunged can give felons the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a helicopter pilot.

When a felon has their record expunged, they can honestly state on any job application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Pilot

It may be a difficult road for a felon to travel, but it could be worth it for a felon wanting to become a helicopter pilot.

They can give themselves the best chance for success by having their record expunged.

It would also be beneficial to document any other programs, education or training they have completed.

Having support from family and friends is essential. There may also be others like counselors and even previous employers that can help support a felon who wants to become a helicopter pilot.

A felon doesn’t have to be defined by their crime. They can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a helicopter pilot with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

Explore More within Felony Record Hub

Jobs for Felons
Get to work faster with jobs for felons curated for you.
post explore


How we help

This website was created by a few folks who have personally watched their loved ones struggle to get a job due to having a felony.

Your New Life Starts Here.

logo frh no text
Start Here
icon jobs

Jobs for Felons

Get to work faster with jobs for felons curated for you.

icon housing

Housing for Felons

Find housing for felons, listed by state.

icon legal

Legal Help

The legal help you need to put your past behind you

icon rights

Rights For Felons

Learn how you can get your rights back as a felon.

icon companies hiring

Companies Hiring Felons

Finding employment as a felon is tough. That’s why we have aggregated the best jobs for felons in one spot.

View Companies
icon programs

Reentry Programs

Resources to help ex-offenders gain essential life skills for making the right choices in life.

View Reentry Programs