Michael Crowley is a 2009 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach Campus. Michael has a great passion for aviation, and if you ever meet him, the passion is unmistakable.
Michael is living his dream, through dedication and tenacity. Currently he is flying a Boeing 737 for Sky King Airlines out of Florida. Recently, he was promoted to Captain, a goal he has achieved by dedicating many hours of flying and completing a degree from ERAU.
What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?
There are many traits that lead someone to become the model professional pilot that everyone tries to emulate or become. These traits are vast, and by all means I and all of the other career pilots out there are still learning, but there are a few in my opinion that are core values which allow someone to strive to be that professional, day in and day out.
Ability to continually learn from others. Being a “know it all” or “cocky” in an airplane has gotten people killed more than once in aviation. The ability to be confident and sure of your abilities and knowledge is definitely a trait that one must have, but more importantly the willingness to learn from others is key to a person’s success in this position. To say that I know everything or something to that matter just because I’m a captain at 24 years old would be arrogant and ignorant. If I am not learning from others until the last day I touch an airplane in my life, I’m definitely doing something wrong.
Crew Resource Management. The ability of a pilot to “use all available resources” is not just a phrase that we say over and over in aviation training with no real meaning. I cannot reiterate this phrase and how important it really is. When flying with my airline (or in any multi-crew environment), the prospective and knowledge of my fellow crew members (or possibly even passengers) is so important to my decision-making as a Captain. Their skills and abilities to think of a different solution to a problem or situation is critical to the successful outcome of any flight. Always be open and inviting to other peoples’ ideas and input. In a flying career, this process will probably save your life more than once. Also, remember that even in a single-pilot situation you do have people to help you, for instance Air Traffic Control and others on the ground to help you through a given issue.
Physical Skill of Flying the Airplane. As crazy as this may seem to say, it is so very important to keep your skill of flying the airplane up to par. We are all guilty of this, engaging the autopilot right after takeoff and disengaging it right before landing. Do not misconstrue this to say automation is bad; it is great in a varying amount of situations. However, flying the airplane with your hands and feet is still a physical skill. A human being will loose a physical skill over time if not continually practiced and refined. Too often people are not comfortable in the airplane because when the automation fails or doesn’t work the way it is supposed to, people are intimidated to take control and fly the airplane. Keep your physical flying skill up to a level that would allow you to be comfortable flying that airplane through one flight with absolutely no automation helping you.
What was the pivotal point in your experience which enabled you to become a 737 captain at the age of 24?
The first time that I actually sat in the 737 for my first flight, I honestly was so excited to be flying a Boeing that it clouded my thought process. But as the minutes went by, and I got into the process and did what I was trained to do, I realized that it really is just an airplane, all be it a fairly large one, that I can do this. It’s that attitude that I kept thinking about for a long time, because it is intimidating when you walk around something that is the largest plane you’ve ever flown before. The turning point for me was when I was asked by the training department at my airline to teach ground instruction to new hire and recurrent training classes. I then realized that all of my study and perseverance had paid off, and this was my final chance to prove myself. Teaching others allows you to learn a lot more than you thought you knew, and I still enjoy it tremendously. A few months after getting certified as an Air Transportation Ground Instructor (ATGI), I was given notice that I’d be upgrading to Captain.
Can you briefly describe your pilot career progression, leading up to your current position with Sky King Airlines?
I have been very fortunate with my career progression, but it has been associated with a lot of hard work and determination. I have wanted to fly ever since I can remember and knew what an airplane was. I received my Private Pilot certificate on my 17th birthday and received my Instrument rating and Single-Engine commercial certificate while in High School. During this time, I also starting working at a private jet charter company, Florida Jet Service, doing odd jobs not associated with a pilot job. Eventually and while attending Embry-Riddle, I was given the opportunity to fly as a First Officer in this company’s Learjet 55’s after I had received my Multi-Engine certification. I also received my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), and Flight Instructor, Instrument (CFII) while attending ERAU. During this time I was given the opportunity to fly for a private corporation which owned four different types of business jets. I had this part-time job for about 9 months after graduation from ERAU and then got hired as a First Officer at Sky King Airlines in June of 2010. I recently upgraded to Captain in January of 2012.
How has your Embry-Riddle education enhanced your pilot career?
The Aeronautical Science degree program at ERAU will, in short, give one all of the knowledge to become a professional aviator. I have absolutely no regrets and my degree is an integral part of how I have attained my position in my career. Working hard and paying attention to everything the professors tell you in class was critical in my development as a pilot. They have all “been there, done that” and know what it takes to actually do the job right. Also, my membership on the Embry-Riddle Eagles Flight Team and being an Instructor Pilot at ERAU have helped me to become the pilot that I am today.