The Alaska Army National Guard has launched a new recruitment program for aspiring helicopter pilots called “Street to Seat.” The pilot program gives high school graduates the chance to complete helicopter pilot training as part of their typical enlistment process.
Upon completing their basic training and officer candidacy school, which takes around 18 months, participants will attend flight school. Street to Seat requires an eight-year commitment to the National Guard, four years more than the standard commitment term associated with enlistment, according to the Peninsula Clarion.
According to data estimates from the Professional Helicopter Pilot’s Association, becoming a commercial helicopter pilot can cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
With the program, the Alaska National Guard offers training in how to pilot the UH-60 Black Hawk, the H-47 Chinook and the UH-72 Lakota model helicopters. Each helicopter is controlled by a pilot and copilot, and the Lakota and Chinook planes require additional crew members.
The Alaska National Guard still has positions open for crew chiefs and medics.
The helicopters are used for many types of missions, such as search and rescue and heavy equipment transportation.
The Alaska National Guard and the Chinook helicopter pilots also help the National Parks Service deliver supplies to the Denali base camp each year, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Russell, head of the recruiting and retention for the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and Unalaska, told the Peninsula Clarion.
The Alaska National Guard wants to help provide young professionals and students with the skills required to secure a future for themselves, and is why they have begun promoting the Street to Seat program and other programs of this sort across the state, Russell added.
The National Guard also offers a program that reimburses up to $50,000 of federal student loans of recent college graduates after enlistment. This would cover the entire balance for approximately 83 percent of debt holders.