The helicopter unit in most police departments is considered a speciality. As a specialised unit, you will be required to meet strict requirements that will vary by department. It is a long process to become a police helicopter pilot, but for those who are willing to endure the process it can be a fulfilling career. If you are seeking a fast-paced, action-filled career, becoming a police helicopter pilot may be for you. Every day as you go to work, you can be filled with pride in the work you are doing.
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Become a police officer. While you may be able to find a job as a police helicopter pilot as a civilian, the most common method is to rise from within the department.
Find out what qualifications are necessary for this position. These qualifications will vary by department and may be as simple as five years of patrol and no flying experience or as advanced as a pilot's license. Some departments will provide the training necessary, but some will expect you to be licensed on your own. You should also find out what is required to be competitive for the position. For example, the requirements may be five years of patrol, but no one gets in without pilot experience.
Become a tactical flight officer. A tactical flight officer is a member of the helicopter crew that observes from the air but does not do actual flying. Many police departments choose helicopter pilots from the tactical flight officers.
Earn a pilot's license. In order to become a pilot, you will need to become licensed. You may receive the training necessary from your department, or you may need to find a private school where you can learn to fly.
Tips and warnings
- Aviation units are very selective, so always work to improve your resume. This can be anything from applying for a special assignment to receiving your pilot's license.
- Police helicopter pilots face the same risks as other police officers, and it takes a certain personality to be successful.
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