Helicopter Pilot

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Helicopter Pilots

Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Service Branches

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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.

  • Military Status


  • Median Military Salary This is the median, or the midpoint, of the salary range for this career.


    Military Salary Range Salary varies based on years of service, degree level, special pays, family status and location.

    $29,376 - $242,609


Helicopter pilots are responsible and skilled officers who control and fly the many helicopters operated by the Services. They also perform combat maneuvers, spot and observe enemy positions, transport troops and equipment, and evacuate wounded troops. They are stationed at military bases or aboard aircraft carriers around the world.

Military Training

Officers typically enter the Military after they have completed a four-year college degree; enlisted service members can transition to officer positions through a variety of pathways and earn a degree while serving. Like other officers helicopter pilots complete a comprehensive training program covering responsibilities military structure and etiquette traditions and leadership development. Job-specific training for helicopter pilots consists of academic and on-the-job instruction. Flight training consists of time spent in flight simulators classroom training computer based training and actual time spent flying. Training content may include:

  • Principles of helicopter operation
  • Helicopter inspection techniques
  • Flying techniques and emergency procedures
  • Combat skills and tactics
  • Flight map drawing and reading

Helpful Attributes

  • Determination to complete a very demanding training program
  • Self-confidence and ability to remain calm under stress
  • Strong desire to fly aircraft

Related Civilian Careers

  • Commercial Pilots
  • Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers

Navy Helicopter Pilot

As a Helicopter Pilot, the sky is your domain. Hover over the sea for search and rescue, land in the center of the action to extract soldiers and Sailors or track and neutralize enemy submarines in defense of your ship. Aerial maneuvers in a helicopter require hours of training, versatile skills and a little bit of creativity to get the job done.

Length 2:03 View Transcript


I've been flying helicopters for the last 22 years. They keep giving me cool jobs where I wear a fire retardant pajamas to work and get to go fly $42 million birds.

I always knew I wanted to fly helicopters. We can hover 10 feet over the water to drop off our rescue swimmers and pick up ejected aviators - something that we just can't do with other airframes.

The squadrons are usually based in Norfolk or San Diego, orJacksonville. Those fleet squadrons are all also deployable on surface ships.

So, normally we fly reconnaissance for the Carrier Strike Group that we're in or in the Surface Action Group that we're in. Basically we'll take off on the ship and we have a surface search radar we'll fly anywhere from 80 to 150 miles out and we'll go look and see what's out there and if there's a submarine in the area and we'll chase that too.

The Navy has the MH-60 Romeo and the MH-60 Sierra Sierra. Sierra pilots strong suits are surface search and reconnaissance missions - anti-submarine missions. Romeo's have a lot more sensors; radars, sonar buoys, any type of small ships that are coming towards the aircraft carrier work - we're here as the first line of defense.

We're currently doing ammo offload, so helicopters will fly from the carrier to the supply ship and they're moving the ammo from one ship to the other. One of the heaviest loads that we lifted yesterday was 4,200 pounds.

You wake up. You work out. You go eat. You go fly for six hours. You get back and go take care of all your paperwork and the collateral duties. You eat dinner. You go to bed. Start over, and you do it for six to nine months.

A lot of people will try to tell you that you can't do it or put up a wall. Just keep shooting for whatever it is that you want - it's definitely achievable.