I'm looking at being my HCPL training and was hoping for some personal recommendations on schools in BC. I'm not tired to any specific city so would be willing to move if there is a better opportunity.
Does anyone have any experience with either of these schools?
Is it worth spending the extra 10k to get 100 hours in the R44?
How is the market these days for low hour pilots?
There is a sticky above your post: viewtopic.php?f=76&t=21146 that has a lot of good information.
I did my Commercial conversion and a mountain course with Chinook Helicopters, and I felt I received good training and good service, although they tend to over book the machines so you have to be assertive to get your flying time. Since I was there last they've moved to a different hangar, which is supposed to be nice.
Recently I did my Group IV (heli) IFR with Heli-College in Langley - mostly for a change of pace, change of perspective and because it was highly recommended: http://www.heli-college.com/tocmain.htm I was thoroughly impressed with the facility, the staff, the machines and the training I received. The facility isn't fancy, but everything about the school is very professional, and the commercial students get a lot of added value in additional ground school/learning that is not part of the TC curriculum but will prepare you for the real world and job search.
I wasn't thrilled about flying an R-22, however after learning more about the machine, and actually flying it, I have changed my opinion entirely and am very impressed with its handling and capabilities.
Don't waste your money on endorsements and "big" helicopters. The only thing that matters when you're low time is number of hours so get the most bang for your buck. R-22 time is probably a good way to go over other trainers as they are a challenge to fly, and will set you up for an easy transition to the R-44.
Lyle Watts is the CFI, and will give you straight goods and patiently answer as many questions as you can possibly dream up. I suggest an in person visit and an introductory flight at each of the schools on your short list before making a final decision on any school. Any flights count towards your license so it's money well spent to "try before you buy".
A good point to remember is that a big flashy school does not mean it's the best school - sometimes it simply means the school is successful at making money (ie separating you from yours).
Job market? If you really want to fly more than anything else in the world, you can do it, but it's going to be more difficult than you can ever imagine. Perseverance, patience, initiative, positive attitude, resourcefulness and a bit of horseshoe factor will dictate your survival and success as a helicopter pilot. Unless you have gobs of money to waste, do your research before going this route - it is not for the faint of heart or those with a high sense of entitlement. It IS a heck of a lot of fun, personally challenging and uniquely interesting though - but you have to go through a lot of shit to get to the brass ring.