How can you get a permit for flying a helicopter?

You need to get a flight physical, attend ground school, pass a ground-school test, attend flight school, then pass the FAA oral and practical exams. Flight instructors from the school close to my office (I work on the perimeter of a small airport) tell me it's about $10,000 LESS expensive to learn to fly an airplane before you start learning to fly the helicopter than it is to learn to fly a helicopter first. Check philip.greenspun.com 's section on learning to fly a helicopter; he goes into it very well.