Once I made my decision to fly helicopters my biggest question was the best way to achieve my education. My major concerns where to receive a good education, cost of school/funding, scheduling for lessons so I could maintain a job, and employment in the field after I achieved my CFII.
In my search or a reputable school I searched in and out of state and country. Here in seattle I found two schools, both of which are private schools and strictly helicopter schools. Classic helicopters and Helicopters Northwest. When calling and talking with schools out of the seattle area I learned that you would want to be stationed close to your school so that you can put as much air time in as possible with as little breaks as possible. The reason for this being that the more time between flights the more time you spend reviewing so ultimately the more money you spend to learn the same thing in the end. When I would ask for a recommendation on which school was reputable out of my area I kept hearing Helicopters Northwest's name. I turned my attention to the local seattle based schools. Throughout my research I found that there are two different levels of schools Part 141 and Part 61. Part 141 schools have been reviewed and approved by the FAA and there for can charge more for their training. Part 61 schools are recognized but not have applied or been approved on their training material or class room set up by the FAA. Wether you attend a part 141 or 61 school to to get an FAA license and be able to fly you HAVE to take an FAA test and pass, there for so long as you receive all the training and knowledge necessary to pass your FAA administered written, oral and physical exams the choice of which school you attend is totally personal.
Both schools, Classic Helicopters and Helicopters Northwest, run about the same cost to receive your CFII and get to 300 hours $75K-$80K. Being that $80k is an expensive education the question is how to afford it. Before the economy started to take a dive private lenders such as Sally Mae would lend to students who where attending private schools but not any more. Government grants are available only to those attending schools that are part of the government grant system, which neither of these school are. Through further research though I found a light at the end of the tunnel, Helicopters Northwest offers in house funding up to the amount of $50K. Although $50K would not get me all the way to CFII its a really good start. My next course of action was to schedule demo flights at both schools to get a hands on experience that could help further educate me to make my final decision.
After finishing both demo flights there was no doubt in my mind which school I would be attending, the fact that Helicopters Northwest offered in house financing was just a bonus. Being that they are a private helicopter flight school scheduling happens on a personal basis with your training pilot. All the pilots I have met so far are very friendly, easy going and flex able. They teach you at your own speed and make sure that you are totally comfortable. No large classes and fear of being left behind because you don't understand something.
Helicopters Northwest is also 1 of 4 school that the owner owns in the seattle area and they are a Robinson certified dealer and maintenance facility. The Nice thing about that is that every 2500 hours of flight time the helicopters have to be transported back to Robinson for overhaul and when work is complete the helicopters need to be test flown. All in all the opportunity for flight hours and for job placement due to size of Helicopters Northwest's operation is much much greater than all other schools in the seattle area.
Due to the reputation, friendly environment, available financial aid, flexible scheduling, personalized training, and job placement possibilities once I reach my 300 hour mark I have chosen to execute my training at Helicopters Northwest.