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20 Year Old Kristen Stonecipher Doubles Down on Studies and Simulation to Land Job Flying Helicopters

With double majors and double minors at a leading university, Kristen Stonecipher maintained a 4.0 GPA while pursuing her helicopter Ratings and Certificates. After earning her Private Pilot Certificate, helicopters, and knowing she would have to move up to the Robinson R44 from the R22, Kristen was feeling financially overwhelmed. Seeking ways to save money, she heard that Guidance Aviation had integrated a helicopter simulation program into its curriculum.

Helicopter Flight Simulators in Training Played A Big Factor in Switching to Guidance Aviation

HD helicopter simulation X-Copter
Guidance Aviation operates over 15 FAA approved training devices throughout its operations, using X-Copter Helicopter Flight Simulators.

“After earning my Private Pilot Certificate in helicopters, I knew I had to move up to the more expensive R44. I was feeling very financially overwhelmed. Also at this time I had been hearing rumors of Guidance Aviation using simulators in their instrument training (something my current school did not offer). During one of my meetings with CEO John Stonecipher (no relation that we could determine) I finally asked how I could receive more information about the school. John provided a lot of information about the flight school and sent me over to student services to find out more. Upon touring the facility and learning more about Guidance, I decided to make the switch. Being able to use helicopter flight simulators during instrument training to cut down on my costs played a big factor into making the switch,” said Kristen Stonecipher.

Born in Logan, Utah in 1994, Kristen didn’t become fascinated with aviation until she was a junior in high school. “As I looked into what I wanted to do with my life I came across helicopter pilots. This instantly caught my attention. I then began my research into the helicopter world. The more I researched, the more I wanted to fly helicopters. As I researched schools with aviation related subjects, I came across a leading aviation university. I immediately filled out an application and sent it in. Months later to my excitement, I had been accepted. During this excitement I figured I should probably tell my parents my plans. My father and his vast knowledge asked me how I was going to know if I even liked flying in helicopters. This was a very valid question because I had never even touched a helicopter let alone flew in one. Conveniently for me there was a flight school in my hometown, Mountain Ridge Helicopters. I set up an intro flight and instantly fell in love with flying. Being handed the controls and being able to fly, I knew from then that this is what I wanted to do. After my intro flight at Mountain Ridge in my hometown, I immediately began plans to move to Prescott, Arizona and begin my flight training.” continued Kristen.

At Guidance Aviation, Kristen Stonecipher acquired her commercial rating, instrument rating, and CFI, CFI-I, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA (Majors – (1) Air Traffic Management, (2) Aeronautics) (Minors (1) Business Administration, (2) Helicopter Operations and Safety) at her University. Impressive work load and impressive performance.

The Helicopter vs Airplane Question

In flight R44, IFR, helicopter training, PRC

“When analyzing this question I look at it from a futuristic approach. Airplanes are so quickly being placed with auto pilots, that all the pilot does is takeoff and land the airplane. I was not going to spend thousands of dollars to barely even be able to fly! One reason I chose helicopters is so I could spend my career flying the aircraft and not just sitting. Another reason I chose helicopters is to be able to assist and help people,” remarked Kristen Stonecipher.

Memories of a Cross Country Flight, Real World Experience

“One of my most memorable experiences I had while flying at Guidance Aviation was being able to fly an R22 from the school’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana flight ops to the Prescott, Arizona flight ops. This flight was conducted during my commercial flight training. This allowed me to have some real world experience in flying a long distance cross country and how things will kind of be in the commercial world. This is also not a common experience you can achieve at other flight schools to be able to transfer a helicopter across multiple states,” said Kristen.

Showing Initiative Earns Respect


“I was able to earn a dispatch position at Guidance Aviation by showing initiative through my helicopter training. This allowed the Chief Pilot and other instructors to see my motivation and willingness to work. As a dispatcher, I ensured in the morning that everything is unlocked, pulled out helicopters, and got everything ready for the day. When working the evening shift, I ensured that all the helicopters are put away, the fuel bowser had sufficient amount of fuel, and that everything was locked up. During the day I tracked of all the flights that we had out and made sure everyone came back safely. Additionally, the dispatcher is responsible for fueling aircraft, calling for fuel, printing off paperwork, coordinating with maintenance, answering phone calls, and anything else that needs to be done,” stated Kristen Stonecipher.

Unique Opportunity Leads to a Career Start

“The dispatch position was a great spot that typically leads to a flight instruction position, CFI-I. But I never had the opportunity to take an instructor’s post as I landed a job flying for a tour operator out of Florida! I was introduced to my new employer while at the HELI-EXPO 2015—a unique opportunity created by Guidance Aviation. Guidance provided the opportunity for me to go to the world’s largest helicopter convention in Orlando, Florida to be a representative of the school at the show. This opportunity developed into an even greater opportunity—a job flying helicopters. While at the show, we had the opportunity to network and meet potential employers. Through one of those meetings, I landed a job flying R44s,” states Kristen Stonecipher.

Besides her double majors, double minors, flight training, and dispatch, Kristen was a student representative for the Safety Board at Guidance Aviation.

Thanks Dad!

Kristen Stonecipher, CFI-I, professional pilot.

“My father is one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always motivated to do my best in everything I do. He has also been an example to me about how important obtaining a college education is. My father has helped me learn that I can always do better and can achieve anything I set my mind to. He has also taught me how I can do things on my own and how to use resources available to me to figure things out,” stated Kristen Stonecipher.

Simulation, Unique Opportunities, Careers

When you’re ready to double down and commit to demanding studies and challenging training like Kristen did, Contact Guidance Aviation.

“Guidance Aviation is a career school. We haven’t done our job until our graduates are placed into industry,”John Stonecipher
CEO, Guidance Aviation

kristen stonecipher r44
Kristen Stonecipher’s New Office. Picture courtesy of Panhandle Helicopters.
kristen stonecipher office view
Kristen Stonecipher’s Office View.
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