ROTOR Magazine2019 Fall

Mil2Civ Transition: Start NOW

By December 1, 2019March 26th, 2021No Comments

Mil2Civ workshop at Expo a must for military aviators.

In an effort to assist military pilots and maintenance technicians who may be thinking about transitioning into a civil aviation career, I offer a bit of guidance. Attend helicopter industry meetings starting now, even if your retirement or ETS is years away. Learn about the important ways in which civil aviation regulations and culture differ from the military’s. Most important, network, network, network.

You can knock all of these items off of your to-do list by attending the Mil2Civ workshop at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim. Admission is free, but registration is required (learn more and register at

When I was planning my military transition, I had many things going for me but a civilian job wasn’t one of them. I had studied the helicopter industry via the Internet and sent out more than 100 resumes, with not much to show for it. It never occurred to me to attend a helicopter convention, meet people in the industry face-to-face, and get career advice from them.

As luck would have it, I was in Las Vegas at the same time as Expo that year. Curious about what I’d find inside, I paid the entry fee and stepped into my first HAI HELI-EXPO®. Wow, my eyes were finally opened. Attending Expo instantly increased my industry knowledge, and more importantly, folks in the industry got to know me. I met passionate, interesting people who readily shared their knowledge and advice, and the education opportunities were endless. Afterward, job offers began to arrive. I thought, “This is so very different from how the military works—people need to know about this!”

Several years later, HAI’s free Mil2Civ workshop was born. It’s an intense day of personal transition stories. We review resumes, offer interview advice, and educate our attendees on topics such as obtaining civil licenses and ratings, logging flight time, and how to speak “civilian.”

More than 50 helicopter industry professionals—many of whom have made the military-to-civilian transition themselves—volunteer their time to mentor Mil2Civ attendees. Many of these mentors transitioned into the industry completely unprepared; now they want to ensure that others have a smoother path. Their personal guidance makes all the difference for our attendees.

By attending the Mil2Civ workshop, the military service member takes the first step to becoming a known entity in the helicopter industry. Yes, your experience is important, but your success in the civilian world is also tied to the quality relationships you build along the way. Treat each interaction with someone in the helicopter industry as a job interview.

Of course, you should register for the Mil2Civ workshop (did I mention that it’s free?). But I recommend taking in the entire Expo. HAI offers active-duty military attendees discount rates on admission: $110 for a one-day pass; $220 for a three-day pass.

With HAI HELI-EXPO’s four days of classes, meetings, and networking events, it’s impossible NOT to meet people—and your next opportunity might be standing right next to you!

All the best,

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Stacy Sheard

Stacy Sheard

Stacy Sheard’s aviation career began as a US Army Huey and Black Hawk pilot. After leaving the military to pursue a commercial flying career, Stacy flew in the charter, tour, news-gathering, air ambulance, and corporate aviation sectors; she was also a production test pilot for Sikorsky. She is currently an AW139 corporate captain with Fanatics/EJM. Stacy was first elected to the VAI Board of Directors in 2016 and was the 2020–21 chair.