Can a Felon Become a Helicopter Pilot?

If you have great mechanical skills and you enjoy flying, you may want to be a helicopter pilot. Although you have a felony there are still plenty of interesting careers that you can do.

If you’d like to fly around your city you can be a helicopter pilot. You can get a job watching traffic or getting injured people to the hospital.

Flying a few friends around for fun or offering sight-seeing tours for money will mean you need a license. Becoming a helicopter pilot is going to take a lot of training, time, and money.

Helicopter Pilot Career Overview

To become a pilot, you will have to get licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This administration monitors and regulates safe air travel in the United States.

You will also need certifications from the Civil Aviation Authority. If you are at least 16 years old, you can fly a helicopter by yourself. If you are 17 you can have a Private License, and 18 for your Commercial License.

Helicopter Pilots are responsible for many things in their work. Flying a rotorcraft (this is a helicopter) means you’ll have to keep everyone safe and follow the rules. You will have to understand how weather patterns can affect your vehicle.

Checking all your equipment and instruments before taking off is a part of your job. Flying can be a dangerous sport for you and the people on the ground below you.

Pilots must know how to communicate with Air Traffic Controllers. These are people employed by the FAA to govern flight plans and other conditions you’ll need to follow.

You will have to follow specific routes and landing times to prevent disasters. As you see with the roads, there are laws and regulations keep everyone safe.

What Does it Take to Be a Helicopter Pilot?

To be a great Pilot means you have to have formal training. If you want to be a Private Pilot, you’ll need several hours of training to get your licenses.

There are different types of licenses required by the FAA for you to achieve your goals. The two most common ones are:

  • Private Pilot – If you’d like to operate a helicopter and fly yourself around this is the one for you. This is also the one you’ll need to start with for training.
  • Commercial Pilot – This is the one where you can make money. Flying people around for tours of your city or being someone’s private pilot will mean you’ll need this one.

If you’d like to do a job, you will need education. This is dependent on the job you’d like to do. For example, if you want to fly people to the hospital, you may need medical training.

Once you’ve had your private license you can begin to work towards your commercial license. The Commercial License has several requirements.

To become a commercial pilot, you will have to train with someone who has the authority to train you. You must have at least 150 hours of flight time.

You will also have to understand the English language and pass the exams. Once you’ve done this you may want to seek specialized education that lets you do other jobs.

Becoming a pilot will take a lot of money and time. There aren’t a lot of options for aspiring pilots to get financial aid.

Using another person’s aircraft and their fuel while paying a trainer is going to be expensive. This may not be the best option for someone who spent time in prison. Like everything else, it is possible if you set yourself to it.

Will Your Felony Keep You from Getting your Licenses?

It may be expensive and time-consuming. This may not be a great career path for someone who has prior criminal convictions.

The FAA does background checks when you apply for your license. Not all felonies will disqualify you.

The FAA has to keep people safe. If you had a DUI at some point, you may only have to wait a year to get your license.

Many employers are becoming more accepting of hiring felons. Regardless of changing social conditions, you may not get your license at all.

In certain jobs, felons may not get their licenses for the safety of the public. These jobs usually need the candidate to be honorable.

A review of your circumstances will take place before you are denied. If you had a petty theft charge at the age of 17 you will do far better than someone with domestic violence charges.

If you get your license, it may be difficult for you to get a job. The issue here is that many airports need you to have security clearance. Someone with a criminal background will have difficulty getting this clearance.

Once you get your security clearance any company that will hire you is taking a risk. Having a previous felon flying their expensive aircraft may cost you the job. Someone who’s never been in trouble is a safer hire for a company.

How Much Can a Helicopter Pilot Make?

A new helicopter pilot without a lot of experience will start out making about $30,000 per year. This isn’t a lot of money considering the cost of flight school.

If this is something you want to do, and you enjoy flying you can earn more money. Executive Pilots get wealthy people from place to place. This job can make you more than $100,000 per year.

When flying becomes something you are truly passionate about the low pay at first may be worth it. If you can get enough hours in the air you may get a better job making more money later on.


When flying a helicopter, the safety of your passengers and people on the ground is a top priority. There are several reasons that pilots are so heavily regulated.

The FAA and the CAA ensure that pilots are well trained. If you want to make a living as a pilot, you will have to pay for flight school.

To make money as a helicopter license with a felony you will have a long road ahead of you. Explaining your convictions and getting hired will all depend on your circumstances.


Leave a Comment