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Becoming an Army Helicopter Pilot


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If accepted, first you’ll have to attend nine weeks of basic combat training and six weeks of warrant officer candidate school. A warrant officer is a technical expert who specializes in a particular battlefield skill, such as flying choppers. Unlike commissioned officers, they continue working in their specialty, rather than moving up the chain of command.
  • Classroom Instruction: Once through with warrant officer candidate school, you’ll proceed to the flight training program at Fort Rucker. The program begins with classroom instruction on the intricacies of rotary-winged aircraft. You will learn basic flight physics, flight systems, emergency procedures, and you will learn how to draw and read flight maps.

  • Flying: The training advances quickly to Warrior Hall, where new pilots learn to fly helicopters in simulators with spider-like metal legs. Once you have 7 ½ hours of simulator time under your belt, you’ll learn combat maneuvers used by Army pilots in trainer TH-67 helicopters. Then you’ll become an expert in one of four helicopters: the OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance aircraft; the UH-60 Black Hawk, built for medical evacuations and search and rescue missions; the AH-64 Apache, the Army’s primary attack helicopter; or the CH-47 Chinook, a transport chopper. Depending on the type of aircraft you specialize in, you’ll log between 70 and 150 hours of actual flight time before becoming a helicopter pilot.
You will also be taught how to fly with night vision goggles mounted on the front of the flight helmet, which limits your field of vision to 40 degrees.

The entire program typically takes a year, but a new initiative called Flight School XXI began churning out combat-ready chopper pilots in only nine months in October 2005 to meet demands in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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