Becoming a Helicopter Pilot

How to Become a MEDEVAC pilot?

Flying an air ambulance can make for a rewarding career.Flying an air ambulance can make for a rewarding career.

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With 400, 000 helicopter rescues and 150, 000 patient transports by plane each year, air ambulances provide a valuable emergency medical service. Whether you're flying a helicopter or a plane, piloting one of these ambulances can be a rewarding career. Air ambulance piloting is a tough field to get into and requires you to first qualify as a commercial pilot. Each air ambulance company will have a minimum set of requirements involving education, flight hours and certification.

1. Enroll in a college and earn a degree. Air ambulance companies won’t employ you as a pilot unless you have at least two years, and a four-year degree is preferable. Choose a major such as math, physics, aeronautical engineering or English.

2. Go to the Find an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) page of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website and find an FAA-authorized AME to give you a physical examination. If you pass the examination, the AME will give you a medical certificate that will allow you start flight training. People planning to become air ambulance pilots should ask for at least a second-class certificate, as this is the certificate required by commercial pilots.

3. Attend a civilian flight school certified by the FAA and earn a pilot certificate. Any college or university that is FAA-certified and that offers pilot training as part of an aviation degree counts as a flight school. An alternative to flight school is to take lessons from a FAA certified instructor. If you've served in the military and have already received extensive flight training and amassed sufficient flight hours, you have the advantage of not having to undergo civilian training.

4. Get an instrument rating. As air ambulances respond to medical emergencies in all weather conditions, you must be rated to fly by instruments, as this will demonstrate your ability to fly when there is low visibility. You’ll need 40 hours of instrument flight experience and will also be required to pass a written exam and to demonstrate your ability to fly by instruments to an examiner.

5. Apply for a flight instructor job at a flight school. An air ambulance company may require its pilots to have a minimum of 1000 hours flight time. Teaching people how to fly is a legitimate way of building up your flight hours.

6. Apply to the air ambulance company of your choice. The operator may require you to submit your resume online. If you get past the interview stage of the hiring process, be prepared to undergo a drug screen and background check before being offered a job.