The first thing you should do is take an introductory lesson from a flight school near you to make sure you like it, and to get familiar with the school and its instructors. Your first lesson will last about 30 minutes and you will actually get to be on the controls during that time. You can find flight schools near you on the following sites:
Prior to beginning your training in earnest, you should obtain at least a third class medical certificate. You can view the medical requirements here:
You can find an Aviation Medical Examiner here:
For a private pilot certificate, you will need to have a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including at least 10 hours solo. You will also take a written test, and a practical test (checkride). To prepare for these, you will also do ground school with your instructor in addition to the flight training.
Most people go beyond the minimum flight time requirement. An average student may expect to take from 60-80 hours depending on how frequently and consistently you train. Try to plan ahead so you can fly consistently, and minimize your costs.
How long it will take depends on how frequently you fly. I've seen some people complete all of their ratings (private, instrument, commercial, CFI, CFII) in as little as 8 months. I have also seen others take several years just to get their private. 3-4 months would not be unreasonable for a private certificate if you train at a modest pace.
How often you fly will depend on three things: your schedule, the flight school's schedule, and the availability of funds. Any one of those may cause you to get stuck, and to take longer. Do some research, and plan ahead carefully to minimize delays created by any of these.
Flight time is the bulk of the expense. The average price in my area is currently about $275/hr. If that is your rate, then 60 hours will cost $16,500. Your ground lessons, medical exam, books, supplies, written tests, examiner fee, etc. will be in addition to that. You might spend another $1000 or so on these.
Choosing a Flight School
There are many great schools out there, and there are a few poor ones. Find a school that has enough instructor and aircraft availability for you to train as often as you like. They should allow you to pay as you go. You should also find an instructor that you are comfortable with, and you should feel comfortable with the school and their safety practices. Finally, you may want to consider the type of aircraft they fly.
On Training Aircraft:
The two main civilian training aircraft are the Robinson 22 and the Schweizer 300. Investigate the differences between the two, as there are pros and cons to each. Some people prefer one or the other. I personally prefer the Schweizer.
Some people make the argument that you should fly airplanes first to save money. They assume this to be true rather than actually tallying the costs to see if it holds true. They are basing this on the assumption that you will finish your helicopter add-ons in the minimum time, and this is very difficult and rare. 60 hours in helicopters alone will be less that 40-60 hours in airplanes, and then another 40-60 in helicopters.
Spend some time on the following helicopter websites. They have a lot of information, as well as discussion forums and flight school listings:
Do your homework and plan for the time and expense of training so you can get the most out of it without delays. Also, do investigate the reputation of any flight school before starting.
BLUE SKIES-HOPE THIS HELPS!