Helicopter Pilot Training: Theory and Practical Requirements

Learning to fly a helicopter is a rush!

Whether you’re someone who has never flown before, or already have your private helicopter pilot licence but want to work as a commercial helicopter pilot, the journey to achieving your licence is an exhilarating and rewarding one!

For most of our students – the idea of flying helicopters  started with is a curiosity, which developed into a fascination, and then into a yearning desire to go do it!

That’s how we got into flying helicopters, and even though our instructors might have tens of thousands of commercial hours under their belt, their passion and love for flying as a “rotor-head” has remained strong!

Almost everyone who starts their helicopter pilots training with Adventure Helicopters started off dreaming about what it would be like to learn to fly and manoeuvre a helicopter into spaces that no fixed wing aircraft pilot can go.

The excitement at the thought of flying for a living is a very achievable dream for our students. There is a worldwide shortage of airline pilots, and there are also some pretty exciting but little publicised jobs for helicopter pilots around the world, including New Zealand.

The thing we get asked the most though by prospective students, is not about what it’s like flying a helicopter, but rather what’s involved in terms of hours and budget.

If you have arrived here with the same thoughts and questions, we have some answers for you below.

We also suggest you download the brochure below which gives you a brief summary of what is involved in helicopter pilot training.

Better still call Ross on 027 957 3860 and ask as many questions as you like 🙂 (you can also email us below

Flight Info Pack
Download Brochure

Helicopter Training Exam Study:


To pass your private PPL helicopter licence you will need to complete 6 basic exams.

  1. Air Law
  2. Radio Telephony
  3. Meteorology
  4. Human Factors
  5. Aircraft Technical Knowledge
  6. Navigation and Flight Planning

Many of our PPL students feel a little intimidated by exams initially. Thankfully the exams are multi choice. We have many tips and practical advice for how to navigate the exam process in a more enjoyable and comfortable way.

We also suggest purchasing (for a minimal cost) practice exams on waypoints.co.nz to get a “taste” of what you can expect. Exams are generally 25 to 40 questions long, and do not require you to be a calculus master to pass!

Helicopter ground school and briefings:

You will also learn a lot of the application of principles you’ll read about in your books with our experienced instructors in the pre-flight ground briefings we include with your training. This means that when you actually sit down to read your textbooks, you’ll already have (with the aid of a whiteboard, some props and toy helicopters) a mental picture of what the text is referring to.

As you can imagine, this makes learning the curriculum more enjoyable, some would even call it fun!

Books our students buy for helicopter pilot licence study are in the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Kit:

Private Pilots Licence Helicopter Books

You will also need the Principles Of Helicopter Flight book

Time to complete exams before exam credit expiry:

You will have 2 years from the time you pass your first exam to complete all your exams (before the exam credits expire) to start your practical training.

After that, you have three years from the date you pass your last exam, to complete all your helicopter pilot training and sit your practical flight tests.

Age you can become a helicopter pilot:

You need to be 17 years or older to have a pilots licence. You can however go solo at the age of 16.

Flight training hours required to get your private pilot helicopter licence:

CAA New Zealand require you to complete a minimum of 50 hours combination of dual and solo flight hours.

Eligibility and CAA curriculum requirements are as follows:

  • Obtain a class 2 Medical
  • Written Examination Credits (pass all of your exams within the timeframe allowed)
  •  English proficiency test (repeating words over the telephone)
  • 50 hours PPL Flight Time Experience (you can cross credit a portion of fixed wing pilot hours to helicopter) as follows..
  • Confined landing areas
  • Cross country – dual and solo syllabus
  • Effects of controls
  • Mountain flying – dual and solo syllabus
  • Flight planning and navigation
  • Autorotations
  • Accuracy of maintaining height and turn co-ordination
  • Many other hovering and control training

After you have completed these steps successfully you will be issued with a private pilots helicopter licence.

Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence:

To learn more about CPL for commercial pilots and career options, give us a call as there are many options available. Finding a job at the end of your training has about as much to do with who you know and very much dependant on the standard of training you have received.

Essentially – who trained you is what gets you a helicopter pilot job – and it’s matters to potential employers.

Our instructors and helicopter pilot training services:

We have some if not THE most experienced and top rated instructors on our team. Shamus is an “A” category instructor – which means he teaches B and C category instructors. A-cat instructors with as much experience and knowledge as Shamus are rare. He’s also got a great sense of humour and no nonsense way of putting you at ease, accelerating your learning experience! Anything you can do in a helicopter, Shamus has done it, ALOT of it, and enjoys passing on those extra skills to his students.

Scotty is an ex military pilot, so he teaches you all kinds of “little” things that give military pilots that next level of skill when flying. So without any extra brain strain, you’ll be learning skills at a much higher standard than you would get with an instructor with a civilian pilot background.

We have a Part 141 certificate – which means we are CAA flight training approved (not all flight training offered is CAA approved). No cowboys!

What you get with us is the highest level of PPL helicopter training, with lots of extras you learn as you go.

Not only will you be competent pilot when you get your helicopter licence, you’ll be well ahead of the game with your skills and competency.

Instrument rating with our CAA certified simulator:

We also have a Frasca dual flight simulator for pilots wishing to do instrument ratings. You can log flight hours with our fully certified machine.

To learn more, call Ross on 027 957 3860 or email us

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