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pilot for Wildland Fire or EMS pilot

I'm not sure if this question would relate to this forum, but I'm really desparate and I'm hoping that someone can!!!

I'm really interested in becoming a pilot (fixed wing or helicopter) for WILDLAND FIRE, or an EMS pilot (Medevac, or other, etc.), but the problem is that I can't find information on those programs to pursue my career in question. I know I have to get my wings first and rack up all of those flight hours, which isn't a problem, but finding the certain specific programs that I'm supposed to take is a pain...simply because I've had no luck!

Please! Does anybody have any info on this or know where I can go to find out???!!! Thanks.

While awaiting a reply from the FireCareers staff, please allow me to offer my US $0.02

There are precious few fields that require as much focus and attention as aviation. To that end, let me suggest that you need to have a razor sharp focus on one accomplishment at a time. Getting the cart before the horse is not only an obstacle, it may prove to be dangerous. I say focus on getting your wings. Your certifications and flight hours are the foundation upon which your vocation will be built.

While that thought is germinating, here are some websites you might find useful:

I hope this information is helpful.


Please no e-mail. Public replies only. Thank you!

Fire aviation as well as EMS aviation are a tough nut to crack. I can only speak for the helicopter side of the house but it is very difficult to get on with a private fire or EMS company or fire dept. that fights fires. Most wildland firefighting is done through private contractors with the excepetion of LA City, LA County, and CDF. San Diego City fire has two birds but are flown by civilian contract pilots. SacMetro I think has a bird but im not sure.

As far specific programs training you for this, I know of none. I hold a commercial and flight instructors license for rotorcraft and currently teach people how to fly. The biggest thing for you starting out is to go to flight school, get ALL your licenses and get a job as an instructor. That will be the easiest way to build your hours. Keep in mind that most EMS companies such as MERCY AIR and the like require thier pilots to have around 4,000 flight hours, most of them in turbine powered aircraft. Most EMS and fire pilots are high-time military pilots with a alot of them being from the Vietnam era. In flight school and as a flight instructor you will be flying piston powered aircraft. The average cost for a piston powered helicopter such as the Robinson R-22 runs about $250 an hour, you need a minimum of 150 hours just to get you commercial license. A typical price for a turbine powered helicopter like a Bell Jet Ranger runs around $700 an hour, you do the math. My advice, if your really serious, is to fly for the military. The Army has a great great program called the AVIATION WARRANT OFFICER. Basically you dont need any college to be an officer and fly, whereas all the other services you need to have a 4-year degree. I was a Coast Guard crew chief on Jayhawks and if I could do it all over again I would have joined the Army right out of high school but I was having to much fun running around being an LA City Fire explorer(good times!). Well I probably have taken up to much of your time already. If you have any more questions about flight school or helicopters in general feel free to ask, I will be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge.

P.S. Check out a website called , that should give you a basic idea of what type of jobs are out there for helicopter pilots.