Job Family: Aviation Helicopter Pilots
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard  | National Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile 1 |  Profile 2 | 
Photo 1:
Pilot gets ready for takeoff. Photo 2: Pilots check helicopter tail rotor.

Mark Vanous
Occupation: Helicopter Pilot

I always knew that I wanted to become a Marine. My father was a career Marine who served as both a jet and helicopter pilot. I admired my father an…

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Jessica Wright
Occupation: Pilot

Joining the military wasn’t really a part of my plan or a long range goal. I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in social…

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Short Description
Helicopters can take off from and land on small areas. They can also hover in one spot in the air. The military uses these versatile aircraft to transport troops and cargo, perform search and rescue missions, and provide close combat support for ground troops. Helicopter pilots fly the many helicopters operated by the services.


What They Do
Helicopter pilots in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Prepare flight plans showing air routes and schedules
  • Fly helicopters by controlling engines, flight controls, and other systems
  • Monitor gauges and dials located on cockpit control panels
  • Perform combat maneuvers, spot and observe enemy positions, transport troops and equipment, and evacuate wounded troops
  • Check weather reports to learn about flying conditions
  • Transport troops and equipment
  • Perform spotting for gunfire and field artillery

Helpful Attributes
Helpful fields of study include physics and aerospace, electrical, or mechanical engineering. Helpful attributes include:
  • Determination to complete a very demanding training program
  • Self-confidence and ability to remain calm under stress
  • Strong desire to fly aircraft

Training Provided
Job training consists of academic and flight instruction. Flight training consists of at least 80 hours of flying time. Training length varies depending on specialty. Course content typically includes:
  • Principles of helicopter operation
  • Principles of helicopter inspection
  • Flying techniques and emergency procedures
  • Combat skills and tactics

Work Environment
Helicopter pilots are stationed at military bases or aboard aircraft carriers around the world. They fly in all types of weather conditions. Helicopter pilots take off and land from airports, forward landing areas, and ship landing decks.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian helicopter pilots work for police forces, local commuter services, and private businesses. They also work as crop dusters, fire fighters, traffic spotters, and helicopter flight instructors.

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