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.


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.

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.

Expo Success Story: Garrett Krosse

by Garrett Krosse

Garrett Krasse, Aeronautics, PR CampusThroughout my flying career, I always thought of where I would end up working. What were the stages and different jobs I would have through my life that involved flying? Would it be cargo? Charter? Airline? Studying Canadian Geese migration patterns? There were endless options, and getting there to those options all depended on knowing the right people and standing out above the rest.

Over the summer of 2012, I spoke with Michael Gregory in the Career Services Office at the Prescott campus about possible internships for either the next year or next summer. The internship that stuck out in my mind was a flying-based internship in Burbank, California, for the cargo feeder Ameriflight LLC. It sounded too good to be true. From when I first started flying, I always dreamed and thought about Ameriflight…night-time, cargo, single pilot IFR, an exciting challenge and an impressive looking job for other airlines. So I applied, threw them a copy of my résumé and all the other necessary paperwork with Career Services, and then went on to enjoy the rest of my summer.

When I returned to Prescott in the Fall, I met with Michael Gregory and was informed that Ameriflight liked what they saw with my résumé and additional information provided. I was then informed that I would have a chance to speak with the people of Ameriflight when they visited the Prescott campus for the Industry/Career Expo. When the time came, Michael introduced me to the crew at Ameriflight. Just a chance to chat with them was perfect; I was able to ask them questions about working for them, what the internship would entail and the culture of the company. They asked me questions as well. I gave them a business card and was told they would ask for a phone interview soon.

The phone interview was a great success; they asked me the normal interview-type questions, and I continued to ask some more basic questions about the internship process. Ameriflight said they would let me know in the next two weeks about my status of being hired for the job. Then the email came. I was ecstatic. I could not even believe it. I was to be spending my Spring semester in Burbank, California, flying the Beech 1900 and learning the inner workings of the cargo feeder world. I still am unable to wrap my head around that fact that I have this incredible internship, and I know that I would have never gotten here without the help of Michael Gregory or the Career Services Office. I owe the foundations of my career to that man and that office.

Garrett Krosse is from the San Francisco Bay area. He is majoring in Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

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.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Ralph Wainwright Jr.

Ralph Wainwright, DB 2010

Ralph Wainwright is a May 2010 Aeronautical Science graduate.  As a student at Embry-Riddle, Ralph did everything right. He held leadership roles, was a member of the Eagles Flight Team, volunteered, participated in several internships, kept his grades up, and worked as a flight instructor to build his time. It came as no surprise that less than a year after graduation, Ralph landed a position as a First Officer for Air Wisconsin Airlines flying the CRJ-200.

Can you share how your Flight Operations internship with Continental Airlines assisted in the progression of your pilot career?

Looking back to the Spring of 2009, the Continental Airlines internship was the best career-related decision I ever made. I was fortunate enough to intern in the Newark Airport Chief Pilot’s Office and work for the Chief Pilot of Continental’s Newark hub. My experience included FMS (flight management system) training, the high altitude chamber, various tours of numerous facilities in the aviation industry (including Boeing), and 24 hours of full motion simulator time in the 737. This internship gave me a firsthand look at the industry, as I was able to speak with many pilots on a daily basis. This was important because it validated my childhood dream to one day become an airline pilot. Along with networking and technical skills, the most important asset this internship provided me with was the ability to be granted an interview with the MINIMUM flight time required for a pilot position at Continental (which is now United).

In such a competitive industry with thousands of qualified applicants and a limited number of pilot slots, I cannot stress how important this internship can be. To put it simply, this internship is the difference in making it to a major airline at 30-35 years old versus the age of 25 (or even younger!). Be prepared to work hard during an internship, but also keep in mind that it is basically a 3-4 month interview and, should you succeed, it will certainly pay off in the end. To put the question into perspective, I am currently 22 years old in the right seat of the CRJ-200 jet, and with United Airlines forecast to hire within the next 12 months, the internship has put me in a fantastic position to eventually join United.

How has your Embry-Riddle education enhanced your position as a first officer?

Embry-Riddle provided me with an extremely well-rounded education to meet and exceed the job requirements of my first officer position. Because of the structured curriculum at ERAU, there were many important topics that had already been covered in class before I had ever stepped foot into the airline industry. These were topics that were new to most new-hire pilots such as Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Flight Management Systems (FMS), along with many others. The education provided at ERAU was extremely in-depth to the point where there were many important topics that were not even covered by airline training. This included in-depth aerodynamics, knowledge of the mechanics and components of jet engines, and numerous air traffic control classes and labs. This list was endless and ultimately set the Embry-Riddle student apart from everyone else. Flight training provided at ERAU was second to none, and having instructed/been a student at numerous flight schools, the level of safety and quality of training is incomparable to all but the airlines. Aside from this, you will find that ERAU can open many doors for your future if you work hard.

What advice would you provide to a pilot who will be graduating in the near future?

This is a really exciting time for pilots, especially those pilots in the making who are attending ERAU at the moment or will be within the next few years. Major airlines will be opening up their doors in about 12 months to hundreds and eventually thousands of pilots to replace those who must retire due to the mandatory retirement age of 65. It is important to have a plan to make sure you are in the right position to meet your goals and work for the company you want.

Always carry yourself professionally and presentably. You never know who you will meet and where. There have been many times where I have run into various people in unexpected locations (such as an airport, restaurant, etc.) who have helped my career. Opportunities can present themselves when you least expect it. It also may not hurt to always keep a resume or business card on you. Keep your resume updated constantly (I’d say about every 100 hours or so) including your logbook if you are a flight instructor. Keep an open mind when apply for jobs and going on interviews. The last time I was interviewed, I was only given a few days’ notice and I was extremely skeptical about receiving this job. I had already seen a few of my peers turned down for the position who were more qualified than I was, and it got to the point where I had considered turning down the interview in its entirety to prepare for another one I was scheduled for only a few days after. However, this was truly the job I wanted, and I had all my paperwork all ready to go so I took the chance. It certainly paid off because over a year later, I am still flying the CRJ-200 for Air Wisconsin Airlines, and I am really glad I went on the interview! Stay in touch with as many people as you can (and be friendly with them too!) because you never know who will be that  helping hand in landing you a job. When you do achieve your dream job or hopefully something close to it, please remember to be humble about your ERAU education. Your skills will speak for themselves so when you safely land your airplane during a snowstorm on a short runway in windy conditions, don’t boast about it! That will make you well-liked among your co-workers. Always be honest so…if you mess up…fess up! That is the path of least resistance of getting through a situation. It is a great time to be a pilot at ERAU so work hard now, and it will certainly pay off later!

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

Perseverance: Since I was 3 years old watching airplanes with my parents at Newark Airport, I have always wanted to be an airline pilot. That dream has never left my sights since that day. Determination is key and if you want something bad enough, you must work hard for it. I never let anything get in my way of my goal since I started ERAU, and good decisions were a must in order to get here. I was really anxious to achieve my dream, so I put in an extra effort by giving up a few weekends to prepare for something important such as a test or check ride. Instead of taking the summers off, I spent my time more constructively by taking extra classes and working on my next flight rating. As a result, I was able to graduate a full year early and earned my Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science in 3 years. By managing my time effectively and efficiently, I was able to accomplish my goals in a shorter time period. My perseverance was the motivating factor to my success at Embry-Riddle.

Ability to work efficiently with other people: No matter what job you are in, being able to adapt to the work environment (which is extremely dynamic in aviation) and the people in it will make tasks easier to accomplish. Everyone has different insights and personalities, so it is important to accept everyone for who they are.

Attitude: Being arrogant with a “know it all” attitude will not get you anywhere in an airplane, especially with the people with whom you constantly work. I am fully confident in what I know, but I am always open to learning new things everyday. Taking your bad mood out on the world solves nothing, so I like to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

What We Learned from the USAF Thunderbirds

by Brian Carhide


The United States Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team has long been the epitome of aviation professionalism. Recently, when the Thunderbirds visited the Daytona Beach campus, we had the opportunity to meet and listen to the stories of those men and women whose precision flying is measured in inches and perfection is the only option!

For many pilots, including myself, the Thunderbird pilots are like movie stars. And like many successful professionals, the members of the Thunderbirds weren’t just handed this opportunity. They are a part of this team because of hard work, dedication, and passion. Many of those on the team have previous combat experience and typically over 8 years of experience in the U.S. Air Force prior to becoming a Thunderbird. Two members of the Thunderbird team are ERAU alumni. Achieving a position on the team requires a comprehensive application process which can include competing with 35 other applicants for 6 open slots on the team.

Some advice they offered to the students:

Maintenance Officer 11, or “Blue” as they called him, is an alumnus of the Daytona Beach campus, and he offered a key piece of advice — “Have a backup plan”. He was an Aeronautical Science student; however, he eventually discovered he had an issue with his vision, disqualifying him from flying as a Thunderbird pilot. Despite the disappointment, he maintained his loyalty to the Air Force and commitment to becoming a Thunderbird, a goal well accomplished.

Pilot number 5, an alumnus of the Prescott campus, attributed his journey to a coveted slot on the Thunderbirds as his ability to set mini goals. His initial goal was not to be a Thunderbird pilot. However, as he successfully accomplished each of the mini goals he set, the opportunity to be a Thunderbird pilot came into focus. He encouraged the audience not to get discouraged; if you stay loyal and continue to work toward the short-term goals, the long-term goals will happen. He also shared with the audience why the number 5 on his uniform is upside down. Pilots 5 and 6 are the solo pilots during the demonstration, and when any of the maneuvers performed by the solo pilots where one of them is inverted, its pilot number 5; hence, the upside down 5 on the uniform.

Pilot number 3, a female pilot on the current team, has begun her first year of the two-year rotation. With 9 years in the Air Force including combat experience, her poise and humble demeanor as a Thunderbird pilot made a positive impact on the students. Her story truly illustrated that the ability to succeed is dependent on the person and not a piece of paper. As with the other team members, pilot number 3 maintains a balance between family life and work.

The Thunderbird pilots display perfection in everything they do, from the sharp blue uniforms to the jaw-dropping performances, yet their level of humbleness and commitment is staggering. Your goal may not be a pilot for the USAF Thunderbirds, but if an individual conducts themselves as the Thunderbird team members have exhibited, the possibilities of success are endless.

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.   

Pilot Hiring in 2012

by Brian Carhide

In 2012, the Mayan calendar will not be the only thing ending. In December, the U.S. airline industry will again be faced with attrition as a result of pilots forced to retire, at the age of 65 (formerly age 60). The FAA rule change in December of 2007 has created five years of stagnation in pilot retiring/hiring, along with the declining economy. In the last five years, pilots have been retiring solely based on their own decisions and not on a federal regulation.

Recently, the airline industry has slightly rebounded, and the last year and a half has provided steady hiring at the regional level; hiring appears to be remaining steady through 2012. There has been speculation and anticipation building in the industry about what will happen come December 2012. There has been a significant amount of chatter of a looming pilot shortage. There is some truth to a pilot shortage; however, that shortage will have a greater impact in the Asian aviation markets as Asian airlines continue to grow and purchase airplanes. I think we will see a slight increase in hiring after December in the U.S., at all levels from CFIs to the major airlines.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to attend two pilot job fairs and mingle with pilot hiring managers from American Eagle to United Airlines, all which exhibited a nervous tone when discussing the future need for pilots within their company. American Eagle has been the regional airline of 2011 for hiring ERAU pilots, based on the current bridge agreement with American Eagle. However, recently American Eagle’s parent company, American Airlines, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in case you haven’t heard. Obviously the hiring surge from AE has ended for 2012. American Eagle hiring managers are confident hiring will resume in the near future.

Although AE, a viable choice for low time pilots, has ceased hiring for 2012, there continues to be alternate opportunities. A recent trend in the industry is partnerships such as the Cape Air/jetBlue University Gateway Program and the newly released ExpressJet/Delta Air Lines Pilot Pathway Program. These programs are similar in that they provide aspiring pilots a guided path beginning as early as their sophomore year, through to becoming a major airline pilot. Although nothing is guaranteed, especially in the airline industry, the programs can provide pilots the foresight into a more secure career path.

The question students ask me the most:  how do I build flight time? Obtain a CFI and flight instruct, albeit many pilots strive to find another way to accomplish the time building phase of a pilot’s career; in the end it proves advantageous. No matter which way you look at it, flight instructing will place you in another league! (Believe me; hiring managers are aware of this fact). In 2011, flight instructor positions were in abundance, and I have little doubt it will continue in 2012. Honestly, there is probably not a state in this country which does not have available CFI jobs, not even Alaska!

As many of us know, the aviation industry is unpredictable and cyclical. Do everything you can to open doors – take advantage of internships, job fairs, and the Career Services Office. The 2012 year should prove to be a fortuitous year for 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.   

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