21-Jan-2011 Source: Mauna Loa Helicopters
Mauna Loa Helicopters, one of the countryâ€™s oldest and largest helicopter training programs, has received authorization from the Department of Homeland Security to issue I-20 applications for F-1 visas to international students enrolling in the Professional Pilot Program.
â€œThe ability to sponsor students on the F-1 visa program is a huge advantage for our international students,â€ says Ben Fouts, Mauna Loa president.Â â€œParticipants in the F-1 visa program have the opportunity to gain practical experience as flight instructors in the United States upon completion of their training.â€
The F-1 visa is critically important to career-oriented overseas students in that it will make it far easier for them to convert their pilot certificates when they return to their home country. Thatâ€™s because they will be able to accumulate significant flight experience prior to returning home. In most cases, overseas students will want to earn their Airline Transport pilot (ATP) rating, with a minimum of 1,200 hoursâ€™ flight experience, before converting their pilot certificate.
â€œOver the years we have worked hard to accommodate international students wishing to train in the U.S.,â€ Fouts added.Â â€œOur training costs here are generally less than in many countries around the world, so obtaining the authority to issue F-1 visas is the answer to the dreams of many, many potential students.â€
Mauna Loa Helicopters is approved to bring students to the United States on both the F-1 and M-1 visas. Pilots who already possess a helicopter license are eligible for the M-1 visa.Â It is widely understood that many countries are protective of their own flight training industry and therefore make it difficult to obtain a local certificate solely on the basis of overseas training. Being able to offer international students the opportunity to gain additional experience by becoming flight instructors in the U.S. is the single best way to overcome this obstacle.
Mauna Loa Helicopters, established in 1995, operates on three Hawaiian Islands: Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu.Â The school focuses on career-minded pilots and provides all rotorcraft ratings from Private through ATP (Airline Transport Pilot).Â The school also offers night vision Goggle (NVG), high-altitude and mountain flying courses.Â Mauna Loa Helicopters is approved by the Veteranâ€™s Administration and is one of just three helicopter flight training schools in the country authorized to issue F-1 and M-1 visas for international students.Â In addition to 14 R-22s and four R-44 helicopters, the school has a Cessna 172, two flight simulators, and two FAA designated examiners on staff.