Alumni Spotlight: E. Blair Johns II

E. Blair Johns IIE. Blair Johns II graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in December 1998 with a degree in Aeronautical Science.  Currently, he works at Envoy (formerly known as American Eagle Airlines) as a commercial pilot.

What are the highlights of your career so far?

The path I took to build my flight hours, experience and  qualifications opened some unexpected windows into an adventure I had not seen coming.

Flight instructing and getting to fly C402 at Ocean Wings in  Nantucket not only brought about an adventure as to where I was flying but also to where I was living. Had I anticipated where I would lay my head at night I believe I would have looked elsewhere. From a hostel to a hanger office and eventually a  bedroom in a small house, made for meeting great friends along the way, and certainly filled that adventure craving I so anticipated from a career in aviation.

Eastern Air Charter stepped it up a bit as far as the techniques of flying my first turboprop. The Cheyenne II was the perfect fit to not only fly passengers expeditiously to their destinations, but we flew the Cheyenne at all hours of the night as a transport for organ bank donor flying. We would get called out at night as a reserve crew might, and quickly get the aircraft prepped for the medical transport. We would fly to a city, pick up a team of surgeons, and fly to another city where a deceased organ donor was operated on by the surgeons. Once the surgeons were finished with the  operation, we would then take them to another city, where a patient in need was urgently waiting for the organ and surgeon team we flew back with us.

This type of flight operation helped me prepare for the airline world of sometimes complex yet rewarding commercial transport. Through my time at American Eagle, now Envoy, I have been challenged many times and have felt as though each is a valuable learning experience. Nothing can drive home a lesson better than being thrown into a situation with little warning and allowing your training to instinctively take over. From inflight emergencies to customer anomalies on the ground, at the airline, the training happens as much on the line as at the training academy. It is a true sense of satisfaction when you can look back at a safely completed flight and talk over the whole situation with your fellow crew members about what went well and what you all might want to improve on. It is surely a skill refining exercise to go through these unexpected situations.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you?

One of the first memories which come to mind about my time at Embry-Riddle are the friends and camaraderie a student is immersed in the moment they arrive on campus. The collective love of aviation was electrifying and settling into a new and unfamiliar life, from everyday living to studying, was immediately put at ease knowing I was now amongst many other enthusiasts. All of this fervor helped me leap into the courses with a hunger for all that Embry-Riddle could fill. The lifestyle of managing the class schedule with early morning flights was a challenge at first but prepared me for the sometimes demanding schedule of airline life. Juggling a schedule like this is part of the college program across our country at many schools, yet the structure I was given through Embry-Riddle’s aviation curriculum helped carry me through those demanding days.

What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?

Perseverance: Prioritizing my goals and envisioning the desired outcome, yet stopping every day and taking in the realization that my current place in my career was the goal at some earlier point in life. This helps me reflect on and appreciate where I am in my career.

Empathy: No person is isolated from the rest of world, we all have relations with others and putting this trait into action helps interpersonal relationships grow exponentially. In the customer relation business airlines are built upon, this trait is essential to nurturing and growing our airline’s business.

Teamwork: From departure gate to en route to the arrival gate, the amount of planning and work that goes into one flight is astonishing when realized. In the airline environment many people are involved in the process of getting a flight off the departure gate on time and much of this goes understandably unnoticed to the public eye. We operate every flight with a concept known as Cockpit Resource Management (CRM). This is essentially a communication loop built with teamwork where each inflight and ground crew member is involved in a feedback process whether the flight runs normal or encounters any degree of abnormality. Put simply, CRM is the fuel which the machine of an airline operation needs to run successfully. With the amount of customers and employees involved in one day of an airlines operation, we would be hard pressed to complete it all without a good teamwork environment.

Are there any challenges that students need to be aware of as they enter the workforce?
Do you have any advice for students seeking positions in the aviation industry?

Changes are happening rapidly in the airline industry as far as the modeling of regional and mainline staffing and operation. New flight hour minimums and regulations have increased the required minimums an applicant to any airline must need, 1500 total time with an ATP. Retirements at the three largest mainlines; American, Delta, and United are due to produce an approximate number of 10,000 positions over the next ten years. The third factor of massive growth for the next decade is the new rest regulations now in effect, requiring longer minimum rest overnights which increases staffing required to cover the schedule each week. Envoy currently has a pipeline program in effect with various flight schools including Embry-Riddle, where an applicant’s total flight time may be reduced to a lower minimum. This program allows the hiring of an applicant before they meet the minimum flight time and subsequently working to gain the flight time before flying the line at Envoy.

A couple of challenges which anyone interested in the airline career should be aware of is the family dynamics involved with being away from home three to four nights a week. Whether you live in base or commute like myself, having an understanding spouse at home is something I am very fortunate to have. My wife Amy and I met when I was on my way to new hire training with American Eagle, so from the beginning she understood the dynamics of being apart for periods of time and was acclimated to this by the time we lived together. Leaving Amy to a house full of kids mixed in with her full time job is not for everyone, though I am lucky to have such a compassionate and loving partner who understands very well the life we as airline pilots live. In the beginning of my time at American Eagle, Amy would come along on overnights with me and got to meet the excellent people that make this job so fun. Understanding the day-to-day life whether on reserve or flying a scheduled line of flying was a good foundation to our relationship in later years. While we may be gone for days at a time, we can have three and sometimes four or five days off at a time, depending on the way we can move our schedules around.

Overall, it is a great time to get into the airline industry with the known turnover from retirements for at least the next ten to fifteen years. It will become a very rewarding career with the changes coming. The flying bug bites such a diverse group of individuals and that fact makes this job a very fun and interesting one. Some pilots started young knowing this was their career of choice, while I’ve flown with many who have previous careers ranging from Wall Street stock floor traders to Psychologists, making the switch and starting over as a career airline pilot.

I often remark to my fellow crew members that we have what I believe to be the best corner office with a view unparalleled. It is quite a place to sit, watch and reflect on all that activity encompassing that fond planet we soar over each day.

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Alumni Spotlight: Kevin MacLean

Kevin McLeanKevin MacLean is a May 2001 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach.  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science and is currently a helicopter pilot for NextEra Energy.

What does your current role with NextEra Energy entail? 

Since 2006, I have been flying helicopters and jets for an outfit in Palm Beach, Florida called NextEra Energy. This Part 91 flight department has 2 Agusta helicopters, 2 Citation XLs, 2 Falcon 2000s, and 11 pilots.  The helicopters usually fly all over Florida and into the Keys, while the jets cover the entire North America, Caribbean and occasionally Europe.

Landing at a flight department like this was a career goal of mine. I fly the line and am also a Training Captain on the helicopters.I assist with new hire, recurrent, and instrument training. Interestingly enough, my dad is actually the one who first told me about NextEra’s flight department, having been and  engineer working with the company for over 40 years.

How did you make the initial transition from fixed wing to rotor?

My transition from fixed-wing to helicopters occurred six months after starting my initial fixed-wing flight training. Thankfully, my comrade Hugh, connected me with his good friend Josh, who was chief pilot for a helicopter company at KFXE in South Florida. Josh recruited me as an intern, where I quickly earned my helicopter ratings. In the year 2000, I was an ERAU student with a helicopter in Daytona. This served as my time-building flying job senior year and beyond graduation.

Based on your experience, what are the advantages of working in corporate aviation?

In my experience, corporate aviation is a real blessing. Each outfit I have had the pleasure to fly with has been like a small family with a very personal feel. It usually is a fairly low stress environment. Corporate aviation’s goal is to be safe, flexible, convenient, and comfortable. We often have very sophisticated equipment and there also tends to be a variety of destinations.

What personal attributes do you feel help to make one successful in the corporate aviation environment?

A good attribute for success in corporate aviation is flexibility. These groups are small, relying on the limited staff to do a variety of tasks.  A positive attitude goes a very long way. The flight crew is faced with new challenges best handled by the problem-solving personalities. Another valuable tool is the ability to work well with others, because everyone wants to be around quality people.
What advice do you have for current and future pilots seeking work in corporate aviation?

Emphasis on networking is huge advice for pilots seeking work in corporate aviation. Networking starts in flight school and continues beyond the time you actually find the job you are looking for. I personally have flown for over a half-dozen different corporate outfits, and each one of these opportunities became real due to networking. Stay in contact with your peers, and make new contacts: classmates, coworkers, social media, job fairs, internet research, and other methods.  Remain professional as you network and prepare for a flood of success.

Faculty Spotlight: Gregory Zahornacky

Greg ZGreg Zahornacky is an Assistant Professor in the College of Aviation and teaches the Aeronautical Science Capstone Course, Operational Applications in Aeronautical Science and additionally, Electronic Flight Management Systems and Crew Resource Management. Greg is also on the development team of the new Airline Operations Center that is being constructed on the second floor of the College of Aviation. Greg has been in commercial radio broadcasting for over 20 years and has his own show Monday through Friday from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm on WIKD-FM 102.5 in Daytona Beach.

What motivated you to pursue a career in aviation, and when did you know that you were interested in that field? Who encouraged you to chase your dreams?

When I was the young age of 7, my father asked me if I wanted to go for an airplane ride at a local airport outside of Pittsburgh, where I grew up. My answer to him was a resounding “NO!” I was afraid to go up in “that thing” and refused to go. Fast forward 7 years, and my father decided he wanted to take an introductory flight to potentially attain his pilot’s license with a neighbor who was a flight instructor. He asked me if I wanted to go with him, and this time I said, “sure, why not?” Once we were airborne and flew for about 20 minutes and landed, I had made my decision; I wanted to fly airplanes! The aviation “bug” had bit me…HARD! From that point in my life at age 14, I had a defined direction and felt overwhelmingly compelled to pursue it. I thank my father and mother for their support, because without their encouragement (and money!), I could not have achieved my goal of being a professional airline pilot.

If you could go back to your college days, what would you do differently? Why?

If I could turn the hands of time back 38 years to when I was an undergraduate, I would’ve most certainly APPLIED myself more so! At the time I started my undergraduate program, all I wanted to do was fly, and I did not care so much about the academic portion of aviation! In the mid 1970’s the Aeronautics degree program that I was in did not have the classes that Embry-Riddle has today. I was never exposed to courses at that time such as Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Electronic Flight Management Systems, mainly because CRM did not exist and all of the flying that I did was in “round dial” aircraft. Today’s technologically advanced aircraft have “glass cockpits” which give pilots more pictorial situational awareness. The reason I would’ve been more studious is because I could’ve learned so much more from the professors I had at that time. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge, and I, foolishly, never allowed myself to partake of that precious resource.

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I have been so very fortunate to have MANY highlights in my career(s)! In my aviation career, it was the day that the airline pinned on my Captains wings after passing my check ride on the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. Directly related to that event was when I was able to take my parents and my wife with me on a trip with the airline, with me as the Captain of the jet that they were riding on! In my radio career, it was when I finally achieved my very own radio show after years of being part-time.  In my new career as faculty member of Embry-Riddle, it was the day that I got the phone call asking me to come in and interview for the position of Assistant Professor and the subsequent offer of employment. There have been many other highlights in each of the careers that I have had the honor of doing, and those would range from flying Hollywood celebrities, to flying charters with professional sports teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. In my radio career, it would be meeting some of the biggest names in the recording industry from REO Speedwagon to Aaron Tippin. In my current career as an Assistant Professor, the highlight would have to be the students. I have met so many fine young men and women. They remind me of myself at their age, because you can see the wants and desires in their eyes to be airline, corporate or military pilots. I have been able to watch their progression from graduation to airline pilot status in just a few short years. The gratification of knowing that I may have had some small part in their success is a feeling unlike any other. I am proud of every single one of our graduates; they are focused and resolute in their career paths.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future would be to continually educate myself and stay in touch with the airline industry as a whole. Through the power of networking, I have been able to stay in touch with many of my colleagues that are still flying for a living. By keeping in touch with them, I am able to see and understand what the airlines are doing in terms of their economic trends and the type of aircraft they are flying. This allows me to deliver the most recent and up to date information to my students so that when they leave Embry-Riddle to pursue their passions they are familiar with those trends. Other than that, I have found a home with Embry-Riddle. The colleagues that I work with are all consummate professionals, and I enjoy working with them on a daily basis.

Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Clarke

Lauren ClarkeLauren Clarke is a May 2011 and May 2013 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She completed her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science and an Associate of Science in Aviation Maintenance Science with Airframe and PowerPlant certifications at the Daytona Beach campus.  She is currently a Pilot/Mechanic for Airtec, an aviation and technology integration company.

Tell us about your current employer.  What is unique about Airtec? 

As a recent Embry-Riddle graduate, I am fortunate to have landed a great job at a company called Airtec, an aviation and technology integration company in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  I graduated from ERAU in May 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science and an Associate’s in Aviation Maintenance Science to include my flight ratings up to Multi-commercial and my Airframe and Powerplant certificates.  The summer after graduation, I had an internship at Cape Air in Hyannis, Massachusetts, as a mechanic, and before I had even finished there, I had applied and been offered a job here at Airtec. Upon completing my internship, I moved to Southern Maryland and became Airtec’s newest employee.

Unique is an excellent way to describe Airtec.  From the aircraft we operate to the missions we fly, everything is unique. We fly support missions for organizations like the Atlantic Test Ranges, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the Surface/Aviation Interoperability Laboratory (SAIL) and the Atlantic Targets and Marine Operations (ATMO) Division. These missions can vary from objectives like range safety and maritime radar surveillance to airborne telemetry. Just this morning I flew a mission for Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center to assist in data collection to establish the floor of their restricted airspaces. These are just some of the countless ways that our clients take advantage of our fleet and equipment.

The fleet here at St. Mary’s Airport consists of three King Air twin turboprop aircraft, including A100, 200T and B200C models, a Beechcraft Baron, Cirrus SR22 and a few other exciting aircraft. These aircraft do not have elaborately decorated cabins with plush leather seats and a mini bar but instead are stripped out and equipped with racks of telemetry and radar equipment.  Some of our technology capabilities include APS 143 Radar, 360 degree belly mounts, satellite data link systems, L/S band auto-tracking telemetry systems and real-time communications relay. We have GPS moving maps, VOR, ILS, and ADF navigation equipment in most of our aircraft. We also have TACAN and aircraft carrier landing and approach systems, which are very unusual for a civilian organization. These aircraft are specially modified with 2.5 KVA, 3-phase, 400 hertz, 115 VAC inverters to power the radar and other project equipment.

Airtec hires and trains the crews that operate these aircraft. We have all-inclusive flight crews for our missions.  That is to say that we hire and train our own pilots, mechanics, radar operators and project engineers.  Here at St. Mary’s, we have 31 employees, plus twenty more throughout our projects around the world. Our pilots are trained on the entire fleet and are capable of transferring from one aircraft to another at a moment’s notice. With the wide variety of missions we perform, it is common, if not inevitable, that we rarely fly the same aircraft twice in a row. The mechanics are also capable of maintaining the entire fleet. This entails anything from repairing air conditioners (a LOT), to changing landing gear, to designing and installing the racks of equipment in the back, to installing the multitude of antennas that our aircraft necessitate.

Unlike most civilian operations, Airtec is a company that would be difficult for a prospective employee to prepare for. Those that come from prior military service have an easy time transitioning into the mission-oriented mindset that is required but have a more difficult time switching from the jets they are used to into turboprops and recip aircraft. On the other hand, employees with prior airline experience have less difficulty with the type of aircraft we fly but more trouble with the missions and the language used by our mostly military clients. As a recent Embry-Riddle graduate without military or airline experience, one of my challenges as a pilot is to transition into both new aircraft and military missions. As a mechanic, I also face a variety of challenges at Airtec. Mechanics with a history in the airlines usually haven’t worked on every part of an aircraft from tip to tail like we do here, and general aviation mechanics rarely have an opportunity to work with the kind of technology that we have on our planes. Military mechanics, as well, are trained in occupational specialties and would not be used to the diversity of maintenance functions we perform here.

Airtec is an exciting place to work and offers great variety for an employee like me with both maintenance and flight skills. No two weeks are exactly the same, and I continually look forward to going to work each day.  In my first job out of college, I am gaining experience in ways I could never have imagined and anticipate many years of interesting assignments.

LCAT2As an alumna, what career advice do you have for upcoming graduates?

Network! I only heard about this company by reaching out to the aviation community and making contact with the right person. Thanks to him, I got an introduction to the President of Airtec, Steve Bildman, also a graduate of Embry-Riddle. Coming in with a recommendation from a well-respected member of the Southern Maryland aviation industry gave me a great advantage from the start. After that it was a matter of being the right person with the right qualifications and the right attitude. At the time of my visit, Airtec was not actively seeking applicants, but as my boss likes to call it, I was a “triple-threat” by not only having my mechanic certificates and pilot certificates, but also being a graduate of the same school as both the President and the Chief Pilot. These three attributes, along with a recommendation from a dependable source, encouraged my employers to create a position for me as a full-time pilot/mechanic, a job that they had never tried before.

Had I been discouraged by the fact that this company was not actively looking for new employees or that my qualifications didn’t match those that the website dictated, I would never have gone out for this job. I am so glad that I did, and I encourage everyone at Riddle to do the same. Apply for everything and anything no matter what the “required qualifications”.  You never know who might read your application and think you could be the perfect candidate for any number of reasons. Take every sit-down interview you can get and don’t sell yourself short. You are coming out of the best aviation program in the country, and people in the industry know it.

I also highly encourage every student at Riddle to take advantage of all the training you can manage while you’re in school. And I don’t just mean in the flight department. Expand your horizons and learn as much about the entire industry as you can. If I had not stayed on after my Aeronautical Science degree to get my Maintenance degree as well, I would not have been considered for a position at this company. Even if you don’t do maintenance as a career, the understanding of your aircraft that the courses provide can give a pilot candidate a huge leg up in the industry to have that knowledge base. Even in flight, get as much training as you can. At Riddle I completed the Upset Recovery Training, gaining skills that made me feel like a more proficient and confident pilot. Finally, a note to the full-timers working in the flight line: Don’t forget that you get free tuition as a full-time employee. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste! Take advantage!

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I cannot possibly choose one thing to be the highlight of my career any more. Every day is a new and exciting adventure in this company.  Being a new pilot with few flying hours and little experience, everything I do here is brand new to me. The transition into King Airs from Cessnas has been a big leap and is a change that I am still getting used to and will probably continue to get used to for a long time. They are great airplanes to fly, and I can’t see myself tiring of them any time soon. Almost weekly I set new personal records. I set new highest altitudes and lowest altitudes, fastest speeds and longest flights. I’ve had the opportunity to witness some amazing things in the short time that I have worked here. I’ve seen NASA rocket launches from 13,000 feet. I’ve seen an aerial refueling of an F-35 from a C-130 and seen an X-47 UAV flying with its chase F-18. Already I’ve seen and done more than I ever could have imagined, and there is only more to come!

LCAT3What are your plans for the future?

To be completely honest, the only future I can see right now is what’s in store for me at Airtec. I am thoroughly enjoying my work here, and I see a lot of potential for personal growth within this company. Right now I am SIC in all of our aircraft, so my most immediate goal is to upgrade to PIC in the Baron. Eventually I’d like to do the same in the King Airs, but that will take a while longer. I have already learned an immense amount about these aircraft from a mechanical standpoint, and I am excited to continue to do so. I think I can grow to be an outstanding mechanic if I put effort into absorbing as much knowledge as I can while I’m here. I am also eager to learn as much as I can about the equipment we have installed on our aircraft. Once I master the flight and maintenance aspects of this job, I’d like to explore the radar operator opportunities the company offers. It is very unusual for a civilian like me to have the opportunity to work around this kind of technology, much less to get to operate it. So for now my plans for the future are to take full advantage of all the opportunities this company can supply.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Todd Hillsgrove

imageTodd Hillsgrove is a native of Pittsfield, New Hampshire. He studied Aeronautical Science at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1992. While a junior at ERAU, Todd was selected to participate in the Procter & Gamble Corporate Aviation Student Development Program – a one week co-op designed to give students an in-depth look at corporate aviation.

After graduating ERAU, Todd returned to New Hampshire to begin his flying career. He spent several years as a flight instructor and gained valuable experience flying more complex aircraft for local companies. In 1997, Todd was hired by the DCAir Company, LLC to fly a Pilatus PC-12 and eventually attained his first type rating in a Beechjet 400A with that company.

In the Spring of 2002, Todd was hired by Procter & Gamble and received his Gulfstream IV type rating soon after. Eventually, he added a Gulfstream V type rating and flew internationally as Captain on the G-IV, G-V and G550. In addition to flying, Todd accepted roles of increasing responsibility at the hangar – Safety Officer, Assistant Chief Pilot and his current position as Chief Pilot.

Alternative Piloting Careers

by Lauren Burmester

picThe typical path to becoming an airline pilot involves starting as a student pilot to complete FAA certifications (Private, Instrument, Multi-engine, Commercial, Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, etc.).  Once all required certifications have been obtained the pilot then continues to fly on their own to gain hours or becomes a flight instructor.  Flying on your own time can become extremely expensive to accumulate hours.  Flight instructing is the most popular and economical method to build hours and get paid while doing it.  All pilots flying for hire must obtain a Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.   What about piloting careers outside the airlines?

A corporate pilot flies aircraft owned by businesses and corporations.  They transport company executives and employees on cross-country flights.  A corporate pilot will arrange for in-flight passenger meals and ground transportation at destinations.   They are also responsible for supervising the servicing and maintenance of the aircraft as well as keeping aircraft records. The job is often demanding and challenging, as the pilot is expected to fly in all kinds of weather into many unfamiliar airports. The aircraft may be a light twin-engine plane, a small executive jet, or even an airliner. The pilot is on call as needed by the company executives, so they are subject to irregular hours.  If the company owns a fleet of planes, pilots may fly a regular schedule.  As with becoming an airline pilot, you will need to build your hours before obtaining a job as a corporate pilot.

A charter pilot or air taxi pilot flies paying passengers for on short trips over varying routes in light aircraft such as single engine or light twin engine planes.  Most charter companies want new pilots who have already acquired their ATP with at least 3,000 flight hours.   Charter pilots will need to have a strong background in customer service as they work closely with their passengers coordinating ground transportation and special requests from their customers.  These pilots fly passengers and cargo as service demands.  Flights are mostly of short duration and pilots can count on returning home at the end of the working day.  If the pilot works for a company with a fleet of aircraft, they may fly on regular schedules over the same routes, much like a small airline.

Cargo or freight pilots fly mail, packages, freight, cargo, perishable items, etc.  In the United States there are few major companies that fly strictly cargo, such as:  FedEx, UPS, and DHL.  These companies primarily fly large jet aircraft.  Some of the smaller cargo companies may fly twin-engines, turbo props, or small jet aircraft.  Cargo pilots typically fly late nights and early mornings from 9pm to 7am.  The path to becoming a cargo pilot is a little lengthier than becoming an airline pilot.  Major cargo companies are looking for experienced pilots to fly for them.  Typical experience could include flying for a regional airline as a captain or a major airline as a first officer.  Major cargo companies are not willing to hire pilots who have built their time solely from flight instructing experience.

Becoming a pilot for a government agency or the military is a little different and has its own challenges.  To become a military pilot, you must be a member of the military.  Typically, with the exception of the Army, you will have to be a commissioned officer to be a pilot.  This can be achieved in several ways.  You can enroll in ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) through Embry-Riddle and compete for a flight slot.  Keep in mind that you are not guaranteed a flight slot, and you could potentially be placed in a non-flying position if the military is not looking for pilots at that time.  If ROTC is not an option you can join a Reserve or Guard unit after you complete your bachelor’s degree. Obtaining a piloting position in the Reserves or Guard may be difficult, as you will be competing against prior and current military members with seniority.  Both options require a commitment to serve for a specified amount of time.

If becoming a military pilot is not the best option and you still want to fly for the government, there are many different agencies that need pilots.  Depending on the agency they will only use military pilots or those with law enforcement backgrounds for security reasons.  Some agencies that will hire non-military personnel include, but are not limited to:  Forestry Service, NOAA, NTSB, FAA, Bureau of Labor Management, etc.  To become a pilot with NOAA, you must be accepted to the flight program following a three year assignment at sea as a Bridge Watchstander.

Whether you decide to become an airline, cargo, corporate or charter pilot, the path to a flying career is similar.  Start by getting your licenses and certificate through Embry-Riddle or  a local flight school. Depending on the pilot career path, additional type ratings may be required.  Build up your flights hours on your own or as a flight instructor to meet the minimum requirements to obtain a position as a first officer, and then move on to a captain position.  Regional airlines are an excellent option to acquire more flight time and experience before moving on to corporate, charter, cargo, and major airline piloting careers.

Lauren Burmester is new to the Career Services Office as a Program Manager.  She has been an employee with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2006 working in Advising and Admissions.  She completed both her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Studies with concentrations in Aviation Safety, Space Studies, and Business Administration, as well as a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with a specialization in Safety Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Lauren’s passion for the Aviation and Aerospace industry is instrumental in assisting students achieve their personal and professional goals.

Success Story: Oswaldo “Oz” Maitas

Oswaldo “Oz” Maitas is a 2005 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University alum Oz at sunrisefrom the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science program.  While at Embry-Riddle, he minored in Aviation Weather, was a member of Alpha Omicron Alpha (AOA) Aeronautical Honor Society and worked for the Career Services Office.  He has worked for Aerospotal Airlines since 2006.  Oz has a great success story to share, and he has provided us with details of his upgrade to Captain.

On February 26, 2013, I completed my upgrade to Captain with Aeropostal Airlines. I finished my 25 hours flight time of IOE training and got appointed to the checkride with the Venezuelan authorities of the INAC. I flew a 45 minute round trip leg from Maiquetia (SVMI) to Margarita (SVMG). After parking at the terminal and shutting down the engines, the check airman congratulated me and stated that my checkride was approved.

I felt very happy and could not avoid thinking about my first flight in a Cessna 172, as well as my entire ERAU class experience. I was thankful for my family, co-workers and God. After stepping out of the aircraft, I was greeted by my fellow Captains as they were waiting for my checkride to be done to give me the proper welcome. They immediately began tearing my uniform apart, cutting my hair and eyebrows off and pouring soda, coke and jet oil all over me. It is an old tradition, dating back to 1929, and it is customary to be done in the jet way along with the flight attendants, maintenance personnel and family.

Now, my life has changed. I am beginning a new moment in my career, as the responsibilities of all the flight are falling on my shoulders. Also, I began to pass my knowledge and experience to all of the First Officers with the hope that their journey to the left seat comes as easily and joyfully as mine.

Once again, I feel very thankful being able to attend a prestigious University such as Embry-Riddle. It definitely made a difference in my professional career and personal life.

This is a picture of me after the checkride along with my family and another one with my co-workers. The first picture is my first solo flight along with my First Officer during a sunrise climbing to FL350.

Oz with family

Oz with co-wokers

U.S. Pilot Hiring 2013

by Brian Carhide

If you peruse some of the pilot forums on the internet for information about professional-programs-banner-lgthe impending pilot shortage, many will say it’s a fairytale. In regards to the big picture, there is truth to that perception. In the U.S., we are still in a hiring lag from the retirement age increase in 2007, and a “true pilot shortage” could still be 5 or more years away – if the FAA doesn’t raise the retirement age, again. One major airline’s recent strategic planning has indicated this may be a possibility.

The good news, according to FAPA, a few of the regional airlines have plans to hire a number of pilots during 2013. The majority of the need for pilots at these regionals is due in part to the new crew rest requirements. The other conundrum to pilot hiring in 2013 is the new law that requires any pilot wanting to fly for a FAR Part 121 passenger carrying operation to have an Air Transport Pilot certificate and 1500 hours total time.

Recently in the Career Services Office, I have communicated with several regional airlines interested in developing pipeline and bridge programs with Embry-Riddle. This is a good indicator that the airlines are seeing a need to have a solid pool of pilots and to aid in bridging the gap for flight instructors to the regional airlines. I feel the regional airlines envision a growing increase in demand and a declining supply of pilots, hence the interest in developing these types of agreements with key organizations.

Since 2013 began, companies seeking qualified flight instructors have plateaued, but there are still an abundance of CFI opportunities to be found. I feel those low-time CFIs that are willing to relocate will find some great time building opportunities and gain valuable experience. Because of the way supply and demand is heading, those motivated pilots who reach 1500 hours will have some golden opportunities during an exciting time for the industry.

Smaller companies outside of the regional airlines are also planning to hire during 2013 but on a smaller scale. Operations such as Ameriflight, Cape Air, and XOJet have indicated they are recruiting and interviewing for pilots. The advantage these companies have is the 1500 hour requirement does not affect them. However, it is still a viable career path and a great way to build some flight time.

2013 may not be the year of the grand pilot shortage we have all been hearing about, but pilot hiring will continue to move in a positive direction. In speaking with one of the recruiters from a regional airline, who has been in this industry for over 30 years, about future pilot hiring, he stated, “This is definitely an exciting time for young pilots!”

Brian Carhide has more than 20 years of professional aviation experience. He spent many years as a professional pilot, including experience as a charter and airline pilot. Recently, he has been a leader in guiding young aviators in higher education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Chris Sarna

Chris Sarna, DB 1994

Christian Sarna, DB 1994

Christian Sarna, originally from Coal City, IL, has been an airline pilot for the last thirteen years. He attended ERAU’s Daytona Beach campus and graduated in 1994 with a degree in Aeronautical Science; he then spent several years afterwards as a flight instructor there as well. He has flown for Trans States Airlines, Comair, and JetBlue Airways, where he is currently a First Officer. Christian and his wife, Karen Magnussen-Sarna (DB, 1997/2004), met on ERAU’s yearbook staff and are both previous recipients of the ERAU President’s Safety Award.

How did you get where you are today?

Starting out as a full-time flight instructor and making $12,000 a year (at the time) requires a great deal of sacrifice. I only  reached my goal of a job with a major airline due to the support of my wife and family.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree helped you in the course of your career?

Any degree is nice to have, but a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stands out on a resume.  Brand recognition goes a long way in the aviation industry.

What advice would you provide to a pilot who is getting ready to graduate and looking for work?

Network! I cannot stress enough the fact that aviation really is a small community and everyone knows each other…or at least, knows your friend, your former roommate, your former supervisor, former student, etc.  You will be asking your teachers, co-workers and flight students for letters of recommendation for various jobs, so stay positive and take names.

What are your plans for the future?

 I can’t wait to take may wife on a vacation to Middle Earth on Air New Zealand.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Michael Crowley

Michael Crowley, ERAU, DB Aeronautical Science 2009

Michael Crowley, DB 2009

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.

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