in the sky
Written by Jon Reed   
First Passengers

My first big break! After 6 months of nagging and pleading I was finally given a shot! I was selected as an alternate to fly traffic watch. The call to action came shortly there after and I was ready to go. 3:00pm show at Hillsboro Airport where I anxiously waited the arrival of my first paying passengers. Ron and Dennis, two local radio station traffic reporters who combined had a total of 20,000 hours in a 172. My 700 hours did not seem like much compared to these guys.

They were all business, loaded up and we were off to cruise the skies of Portland. They were a little weary of the ?new guy? but quickly settled into their routine. It was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. The first time I was getting paid, be it not much, but I was flying my first paying passengers! The three hour flight went by quickly and soon it was time to head home to Hillsboro Airport. I knew from the senior traffic watch pilot these guys wanted home as fast as possible when their shift was up and they expected you to deliver. I nosed over the 172, kept it fast in the descent and made my way home.

It was a great feeling. To finally use the skills I had been honing, to deliver my passengers safely, efficiently and professionally. I made a short approach, landed and was able to make the first taxiway off the runway. (apparently this is how these guys judge pilots, by landing smooth and making the first taxiway)

We taxied into the ramp, killed the motor and they were out like a flash. ?Good Job? they mumbled as they ran towards their cars. ?see you next time?. I was in.

Shortly there after I made it to regular status and flew Ron and Dennis most days of the year. It was the first time I had to make decisions as the PIC with operational considerations. If we couldn?t fly, or make it into a area, they didn?t get the story. The next 6 months was filled with lots of uncomfortable situations

Can we go?

Is it legal?

Is it safe?

It set the stage for all the flying jobs I have had since and was amazing experience. We had our laughs too from the guys pretending there was a bee in the cabin, to squirting water bottles when they fell asleep, it was a great time in the sky. My first passengers.
 
Written by Jon Reed   

Things are continuing to go great! I am a few short hours away from the 500 hour mark and have had a few days close to 8 hours of dual given! It has been a great experience and I have never felt this fulfilled as far as doing something that I love and helping others fulfill their dreams as well. I still can't believe sometimes that I get to live the dream of flying for a living!

I had the privilege of sitting down with Brannon Riceci, a former flight instructor who is now a full time pilot on a Rockwell Turbo Commander 690A with Aero Air, as part of their air ambulance operation.

What was your first experience in airplanes?

When I was in my mid-twenties I started taking lessons in a Taylorcraft, I didn't know any better at the time, but it was a tail-dragger, and before I knew it I was hand-propping with the instructor was yelling out 'Contact!'

So you started flying from then?

Actually, I got delayed a bit, but always had flying in the back of my mind. I was a raft guide for almost 8 years and really found that fulfilling, but between guiding in the summer and bartending in the winter, by the time I was 28 I knew that I needed to do something that did more meaningful than a job that just let me 'hang out' when I wasn't working.

Had you always wanted to be a pilot?

Well, when I was around 10, I either wanted to be a pilot, a fireman, or garbageman, you know so I could drive the big truck.

So what attracted you to a pilot career?

My love of video games. (laughs) Actually though I had no interest in a 9 to 5 position, and it seemed like a great combination of blue and white collar, I got to be around people and have the social aspect but still have a technically focused job, basically a perfect fit for everything that I enjoy. I was really sold after I started instrument flying and it was like playing one huge complex video game. That is by the way, one thing I noticed about a lot of the pilots I work with, they love to play Vids. (laughs again)

So at 28 with a few hours in a hand-propped tail-dragger, you decide to commit to a career in flying. What was your first step?

Well, I started researching where I wanted to go for my training and had talked to enough people to know that it is best to train where you want to work. I spent about 6 months researching my options and since I was paying my own way, quickly ruled out schools like Embry Riddle and Sierra since I needed to work while I was training. I had a great job as a bartender and really wanted to stay in the Portland, Oregon area so I chose to go to Hillsboro Aviation. I had seen the Mom and Pop aspect from my time in a Taylorcraft, and wasn't really interested in that kind of training. As well, I saw how busy the instructors were at Hillsboro. It seemed like a great place to train and instruct and I really loved my time as a student as well as working there.

Then you were able to keep working the whole time while you were training?

Yes and when I got hired as a CFI I managed to keep my night job. I have a mortgage and it wasn't really an option for me not to keep working that job as well.

Do you think that hurt you at all as far as your career progress?

Not really, because I was willing to make the sacrifices that I had to, like no days off at first.It was pretty rough at times, and I was basically tired a lot but I knew I was doing what I loved, and still do.

So what helped you through the rough times?

Just faith and patience that in time everything would work out. I was never in a big rush to get done with everything. I enjoy where I am, look towards the future definitely but loved what I was doing and am doing.

Back to being a CFI, did you get your CFII and MEI right away?

That is pretty funny actually because I was planning to wait quite a while until I could save up a bit of money, when I got called into the school administrators office and they said 'Can you get your CFII?' They had an accelerated student from Europe who wanted to convert all his licenses. We finished his private in five days and I was 15 minutes late to our first instrument lesson from finishing my CFII check ride! I basically had to suck it up, put down the credit card and get it done. It was definitely worth it though.I ended up doing the same thing with my MEI because I had a few students who wanted me to instruct them in the Seminole.

So at about 350 hours you had all your instructor ratings and a good student load.you must have been feeling pretty good.

It was great. I was working hard at both jobs, flying a ton and learning an amazing amount. Until of course that faithful day and my unfortunate encounter with wake turbulence.

Would you mind talking about the accident Brannon?

Not at all. I was in the pattern with a student in a 152 teaching landings and talking through operations in the traffic pattern. Two Life Flight Helicopters passed across the approach end of the runway as we were wing up turning base. There was a shift change in the control tower, so there was no advisory of wake turbulence and as we rolled out on final I only saw two helicopters holding short of the runway.

I don't remember anything past that point, but we impacted the ground on my side as I was apparently recovering and I woke up in the Life Flight Helicopter with a really sore back. I was in and out of consciousness and then in a coma from that point on.

The doctors didn't think that I was going to be able to walk again, but obviously they were wrong. I spent 4 months in bed, crutches for four weeks a cane for a week or so and then I was back!

The school was amazing and really helped me out through everything. Some of the instructors would stop by now and then and would always drop off a little something to help pay the bills that workers comp didn't cover. It was really incredible to see how kind and caring everyone was, actually it was very overwhelming.

So what was the transition like coming back?

Well, I took my time and tagged along in the backseat on quite a few flights, did a few flights with the fellow instructors but the transition was really smooth. I think it would have been different if it would have been something that was some really reckless error on my part, and definitely the fact that I talked about it so much with fellow pilots really helped me move on. I really didn't have any nightmares or problems with it, and I always knew I wanted to keep flying. It was kind of weird but it didn't take long to get right back into it.

When you started instructing again full time did you do anything different?

I started taking one day off a week because I got so busy but was still bartending four nights a week. As far as actually flying I was definitely likely to do a go around if I got a advisory of wake turbulence, but no more so than normal. There was one time when they tried to clear me behind the Life Flight helicopter and I quickly fired back "I'm not falling for THAT again.we'll do a go around." (laughs)

What was the highlight of your instructing career?

Definitely instructing instrument students in the winter in actual. It is an amazing feeling to be totally focused on the job at hand and knowing that it is a pretty amazing skill to be able to develop and to help someone else do so as well. It always felt pretty special. That was definitely my favorite part.

So tell us about the turbo commander?

Oh, it is everything you need. Fast, big and heavy. It is incredible. It definitely kicked my butt for the first bit, and I felt like I was hanging on the rudders when I was flying it, but they give us a lot of time to transition and luckily now I feel like I am hanging on the flaps.

I feel really lucky because in our operation we share legs which means alternating sitting the left seat and doing all the flying during your leg. It is amazing experience and being part of an air ambulance operation really feels meaningful. It adds to the pressure knowing when we make the go/no go decision someone's well-being could be affected, but it feels incredible to do something that you love and help people in a really meaningful way in the process.

How about differences in operations from normal 135?

Basically because we are 'lifeguard', we get direct almost every time. Obviously it can't be abused, but ATC does a great job of helping us get in and out very quickly. The bottom line is no holding and cleared direct.

You have had a great career already Brandon and it is just getting started, what advice do you have to those of us who are following in your footsteps?

Be patient and keep the faith. The only way to be in the right place at the right time is to be in the right place.

Keep it in perspective. Remember that it is your choice to be here, and yes it is flying but it is also a job. If there weren't crappy things about it you wouldn't get paid. Focus on what you love about it and remember that five years down the road you will have a good job in aviation. Don't get too anxious and miss out on the opportunities and experiences along the way.

One of things I love about Aero Air is that you get a good job by doing a good job. You are not just a number. But remember that flying is unique in that it is technical but also a customer service job and you have to remember who pays us to fly. I really feel part of a team and I think in particular Aero Air is a great combination of technical and social aspects.

Would you do anything differently?

Not really surprisingly. I have been really lucky and I guess I always have just stayed open to moving up or even trying something different but also to just enjoy where I am. Work hard, do your best and things will work out.

How about any quotes?

Definitely, it is Latin, Semper Ubi Sub Ubi.

And what would that mean?

Always wear underwear. (laughs) Just kidding actually my favorite quote is from Buckaroo Banzai- "Wherever you go, there you are."

I know it sounds pretty cheesy but actually I think it is pretty deep. It is about being happy where you are and not always looking out the door to the next thing. Don't be so concerned with only looking at where you are going that you never stop to appreciate where you are and where you have been. Enjoy the journey, wherever that may lead.

Thank you for your time Brannon, congratulations on your current position and good luck in the future. It has been inspiring to hear your story and glad to see you living the life you want and making it happen.

Fly Safe and live the life.

Jon Reed

 
Written by Jon Reed   

Hello again from my world of flying! Quite a bit has happened since the last update. I got my CFII after taking my time to get comfortable instructing, learn the local area approaches and getting some actual instrument time. The checkride went very well and I have been lucky enough to currently be instructing a few instrument students. The weather has been great for instrument flying with relatively high freezing levels and a few weeks ago I doubled my actual instrument time in just one week. Oregon is a great place to build instrument experience and confidence as well as judgment regarding the go- no go decision. I have learned some valuable lessons, in particular about icing, which is the focus of this months article.

I had my first encounter with icing, which luckily I was able to get out of, however the fact that I allowed myself to get into that situation shook me up and really made me rethink my go-no go decision. Legally I had covered myself. No known icing (no pireps), the forecasted freezing level was at 7000 ft, and temperature at 6000ft was forecasted at plus 2 degrees C. I got two briefings and had current information on DUAT. What I neglected to take into account was that the MEA on my route of flight was 6000 (the altitude which I filed and still below the freezing level) and although on a westerly heading (even thousands) ATC in the area prefers to send departures up to 7,000. I took off with my student and one additional passenger, and got sent up to 7,000 as soon as I contacted approach. I studied the temperature probe and was relieved to see it still above freezing. We were about 500 feet above the layer and it was clear skies above. It was my first instrument x-country with a student and it was a beautiful flight to the coast. I relaxed a bit and took in the amazing sea of clouds below us and blue skies above. That's when things started turning against us. The tops started forming from a nice stratus layer to stratocumulus as we approached the coast range. The clouds marched higher and as we prepared to enter the first top I advised my student to focus on the attitude indicator and increase his scan rate.

The ice formed at an incredible rate. Large water droplets hit the windshield, ran for about 2-3 inches and then froze solid. I looked over at the temperature probe, which was now suddenly below freezing. We broke out of the first tops and looked ahead at even higher dark gray cumulus clouds. The first thing in my head was the numerous articles about not climbing out of freezing in GA aircraft because of the slow climb rates. We were already heavy with 3 passengers and full fuel, were picking up ice and all I could think about was ' Plus two degrees C at six'. I called approach, told them we had icing and asked for lower. They responded and gave me 6,000ft. We descended nervously down to 6,000 and almost instantly began to accumulate clear ice. The windshield was solid ice and the tire and strut were covered. I knew I had to get out of there, but as I called approach, I was thinking 'how did I let myself get into this, my student and passenger trusted me, what did I do wrong?' I quickly pushed those thoughts out of my head and put all my efforts into the task at hand: getting out of this situation, flying the plane and going home safe. I called and advised control of our situation and started back out of the icing conditions. I received a clearance to head back the opposite direction at 6,000 and at this point I was at nearly full power to maintain altitude and airspeed. I knew we had to go back through what we just came out of and I frantically searched with my student for a MOCA (lower altitude), unfortunately would not hit one for another 14 NM. We were over the mountains, accumulating clear ice, with no way to go lower. I was teaching an instrument ground school at the time and had just covered ATC vectors and obstruction clearance. I knew we were on radar so I quickly called approach, updated our situation and requested Minimum Vectoring Altitude. They came back and luckily go us down to 4,000 within a few minutes and I watched with great relief as the ice chunks started breaking off. As we touched down safely back home, I started second guessing myself, 'should I have climbed above the layer' or 'did I just violate every FAR in the book?' or 'how was I stupid enough to put other peoples lives at risk?' The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to make sure that I figured out how to avoid putting my passengers or myself in that kind of situation again.

Since that time, I have spent a lot of time studying icing conditions, avoidance techniques and conditions that have high risks of encountering structural icing. According to AC 00-6A Aviation Weather, there is a greatly increased chance of icing over mountain ranges as the moisture is forced upslope and forms super cooled water droplets. As well, the two conditions necessary for ice to form are visible moisture and the temperature at the point where the moisture strikes the airframe to be 0 degrees C or colder. Aerodynamic cooling can lower the temperature of an airfoil to 0 even though the ambient temperature is a few degrees warmer. Severe icing is more likely near the tops of the clouds due to increased moisture levels.

The bottom line is always have an 'Out'. Foolishly I didn't have one. A MEA of 6000ft and forecasted freezing of 7,000ft is not a sufficient buffer. I learned a valuable lesson that day, it is not enough to simply use the forecasted weather or freezing levels, we must learn to anticipate the situations and conditions which will lead dangerous situations and act accordingly. A factor was my failure to see the big weather picture and my lack of 'local knowledge'. Luckily I am at a school were everyone feels comfortable to admit their mistakes, determine the factors involved and learn from them. I made deliberate and careful decisions that I thought were best and luckily turned out OK but it easily could have gone the other way. By far the most prudent decision would to have not put my passengers or myself in that kind of situation without a planned escape route.

At the end of the day, icing is where you find it, and if you do, you need a way out of it ahead of time.

Fly safe.

Jon Reed

 
Written by Jon Reed   

I had the chance a few weeks ago to sit down with Jeff Peterson, a CFI who was recently hired with SkyWest and is currently in ground school for a position on the Brasilia EMB-120.

Jeff started his training in October of 1997 flying a Cessna 152 part time while he was attending college. He got his four-year degree in business management and in March 2000 interviewed with Hillsboro Aviation and got his first aviation job as a CFI.

What would you say was the biggest factor in helping you get your first job in aviation?

"Definitely the fact that I did all my training at the school where I ended up working was a big bonus. It allowed them to see what kind of student I was and in turn what kind of instructor I was going to be. I knew I wanted to stay close to my friends and family and I knew as well that this was the school where I wanted to instruct. When I started I just had my initial CFI and took my time getting my CFII and MEI. I wanted to build some experience
first from the right seat before transitioning, which I think worked out well."

What was the best part about instructing?

"Being with a student during highs and lows, incredible triumphs and valleys. When you are instructing you develop life long ties to your students. To be a part of that and to come out of it at the end with really strong friendships locally and internationally was the best part for me."

The low points?

"The patience of sitting through and letting them make the mistakes that you know they are going to make, and not jumping in, which is totally necessary if they are going to learn. But it takes a lot of work to keep that level of patience."

Did you do anything else during your initial time instructing?

"I flew traffic watch as a substitute, which was really a lot of fun and good way to see other sides of flying."

What happened next?

"Well I started sending out resumes and got a call from Continental Express with about 900TT and 115 Multi during summer 2001. It was incredible. In ground school, it was the most intense study period of my life up to that point. For three weeks straight, which doesn't sound very long, but it seemed like it, we would all study from the time we got up, go to class 8 to 5 and then come home and study until we went to sleep. A 30-minute break to eat dinner, but that was about it. I need at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night, some people stayed up all night and never really slept, but for me, being rested was as important as knowing the material."

And then the events of September 11th unfolded and you along with everyone were deeply affected.

"Yeah, we got a call on the 15th and received a two-week notice. It was a hard time, for everyone. We were trying to cope with what happened but also figure out what to do next. Everyone was scrambling to try to call anyplace to get a job. I still didn't meet minimums at most places so I called Hillsboro Aviation and luckily they hired me back. It was really hard to fulfill your dreams and be there, so close and then have it taken away. I realized that it was up to me to make the best of it, so luckily I quickly got over it. I started doing things to make sure that I kept up my skills yet also keep things interesting. I started teaching ground schools at the local community college and also volunteering to teach elementary students how to read. That is a funny story on its own, the fact that I can teach someone how to fly but when I showed up to volunteer they gave me a book and said, "Here, teach him how to read..." I had never really thought about it before, it took me a while to get the hang of it, but it was a great experience."

So what was going on career wise during this time?

"Well, I got to attend a referral career fair with SkyWest in Portland and took their aptitude test. My dream has always been to fly for SkyWest and despite everything that happened I felt really great that I now had the possibility of flying for them. That was in the spring of this year and I was hoping for the best as I waited for a call. In the meantime I got hired as a part-time reserve pilot on a twin commander with a 135-air ambulance company flying on the field. It was a great experience and although I had signed a training contract, they were really great about letting me go when I got the call from SkyWest."

What would you say was the biggest difference from being in a 121 carrier and a 135 operation?

"The biggest factor is with the 135 you know everyone. All the pilots, the director, the chief pilot, director of maintenance, you do the passenger briefings all the way to cleaning the airplane. I think the big question for everyone over there was 'how is this person going to be to work with?' Since it is such a tight community fitting in is critical. At Continental Express your exposure to other people was much more limited as well as your responsibilities."

Well Jeff lets see you have had four interviews followed by four job offers. What is your secret?

" I really don't know! I never thought of it like that. I guess the biggest thing was just studying hard and good preparation. When I first started flying I used to go to PDX and grab any pilot I saw walking through the concourse to ask them questions I had about flying. As far as preparing for the interviews I would hit the Regs, AIM, systems of the airplane that you are most current in, Jepp charts and a lot of time in the 'sim'. I guess for the interview my attitude is that the number one thing is that I present an honest reflection of who I am. If I am fake and try to use canned answers I am not only doing a disservice to the company but myself as well. Just like a relationship, you can fake it for a while but then it catches up to you. You really just have to be yourself and see if it will be a good match."

"Another bit of advice is definitely having a sense of humor; smile a lot and a positive attitude. I always tried to joke around a bit during the interview if it was appropriate."

"I would say that there are really no tricks, just be yourself, let them know who you are and thank them when you are finished with the interview. About the only other thing is make sure you get a haircut at least a week in advance! (Just in case you get a really bad one!)"

What kinds of sacrifices have you had to make to get where you are today?

"Well, I guess compared to a lot of my friends I have really led a unextravagent life. I lived at home, sacrificed a lot of activities, obviously my main focus was flying and everything else had to come second. I had times when I doubted myself, whether I was doing the right thing and even considered getting out of flying, but it was just that, a passing consideration. I know that this is what I am meant to do, and despite all the sacrifices I could never give it up."

What got you through the tough times?

"Faith, family and a deep love of aviation. I know that there is a plan for me and every time I look up and see the contrails pass overhead, I smile and know that I will be there someday soon."

Any favorite quotes?

"Definitely. It is from Charles Lindberg and goes something like 'Science, Freedom, Beauty, Adventure. Aviation combined all the elements I love.'"

What advice you have for those of us following in your footsteps?

"Focus on your Dream! Don't lose sight of that. It takes a lot of studying and sacrifice, but you can do it. Get in touch with a good group of pilots and try to put yourself in the right place. The aviation community is a very small place so do your best to get to know as many people as you can, make a good name for yourself and be careful not to burn any bridges. Just don't get discouraged, believe in yourself and it will happen!"

Thank you very much Jeff and we will look forward to seeing you on SkyWest and hopefully maybe even one of us will slide into you FO spot when you upgrade to Captain!

Fly Safe.
Jon Reed


 
Written by Jon Reed   
Hello. My name in Jon Reed and I am a newly minted CFI in Portland, Oregon. I work for Hillsboro Aviation as a flight instructor and was just assigned my second student! With Doug's permission, I have started a new feature on Jetcareers.com chronicling my quest to fly for a living during the current changes in the aviation industry as well as interviews with regional new hires, hiring managers, and interesting pilots from all areas of aviation.

In the first installment I thought I would give a little background on myself, how I got to be where I am currently and where I hope to end up. Jetcareers.com has been part of my 'internet scan' of what is going on in the industry since I started flying. I have found the discussion boards to be filled with great advice (and not so great advice), encouragement (and bashing), but overall it is a place where I feel like I am part of the aviation community at whatever level in my career I happen to be. I am sure there are many fellow pilots who feel the same. That is the great part about the site. Thanks Doug. Anyway, I wanted to give back to the place that helped me to get where I am and where I am going.

I started my flying career in January 2000, I had put it off long enough and at age 27 felt I needed to get going or I would end up forty having never flown and still dreaming of the sky.

I started flying Piper Cherokee 140s and 160s, I loved those planes and managed to solo after a few months at Montgomery Field in San Diego. At that point I knew 100%, no doubts that I had to fly. Period. It cemented what I had known since I was old enough to walk, that it was my destiny. I didn't know how, why or where but I had to keep flying. Only I was out of money.

I was transferred to San Francisco and unfortunately ended up taking a break from training, mostly for financial reasons, but also that it seemed like such a big task ahead, and thought maybe (although I knew it wasn't true) the solo would tide me over for a while. I was recruited by a friend to start working at an Internet start-up and was caught up in the dot-com boom.

I quickly learned I was only kidding myself, actually on the first day to work, a feeling came over me that if I could be doing anything in the world at that moment, anything at all, it would be to FLY. Despite the fact I hadn't been behind the stick for over 6 months that thought was the one absolute truth that I knew at that moment. I was tired of trying to be logical, to figure it out the "right" way, it was time for action. I passed on the job that day, and told them I was sorry but I was going to be a commercial pilot.

I resumed my training at San Carlos airport south of SFO, moved into a living room with 4 roommates to save money and started my quest. It was amazing. I was flying the Diamond Katana, a plane that gets a lot of gruff from hard-core Cessna fans, but an amazing plane to fly and learn in. It was and still is my favorite trainer. It has a constant speed prop, great handling characteristics and the view from the cockpit is like IMAX. Anyway, it was a great place to develop radio skills, and experience in different airspace because of the overlying Class B not to mention the parallel approaches into SFO by every type of narrow and wide body imaginable, right above your head!

It was the summer of 2001 and I was ready for my private. I got it in July and it was an amazing feeling, to have put in all the hard work and to have the dream start to become a reality. I finally knew what I was meant to do in life. I had to go all the way.

Up until that point I had planned on going to ATP for the 90-day training program after looking there and at Westwind in Arizona. I was just getting ready to commit when I ran into a pilot career counselor in Denver, and luckily she asked me about my plans for the future. After speaking with her and a number of pilots for UAL it became very clear that for me, the best choice was Flight Safety Academy. Every pilot I spoke to had great things to say about Flight Safety in general and I would say over 90% had some kind of training through one of their centers.

I went to check out the school and it was exactly what I was looking for. Professional friendly people, amazing facilities and a large fleet of well maintained airplanes. Through the whole tour they never talked about money, only everything that I would be taught and how it was going to make me the best I could be. It was expensive, but you truly get what you pay for as I came to learn.

I started in November 2000 and by May I had my commercial, Multi and instrument rating with almost 60 hours of Seminole time. More importantly I had upset recovery training in a Zlin and GAT II trainer, CRM and the amazing opportunity of being surrounded by students and staff that loved flying as much as I did.

I had hoped to try to enter the Direct-track program with ASA, and then the Execujet program, neither of which came online when I was in Vero Beach. I learned quickly that you have to be flexible in this industry and although I was hesitant at first decided that my best option to keep flying was to become a CFI. With much of the same determination when I was researching flight schools, I began to look for schools where I wanted to instruct. I am from Oregon, and ultimately want to work for SkyWest so I started from there. I began to realize that although Flight Safety has amazing training to prepare to work for a regional, major, etc. the one thing it is missing is actual instrument, cold weather and mountain flying, something that SkyWest looks for in its pilots. I also learned that companies tend to hire pilots who have experience flying into the areas that they have routes. My goal has always been to be the best pilot possible and I knew that to be a CFI in Oregon would expose me to the types of flying that I was missing from my pilot skills. Plus I would get to change planes, environments and build confidence in actual IFR conditions.... what more could I want?

I chose to attend Hillsboro Aviation at HIO near Portland and have loved every minute at my new home. The staff and students are professional and caring, the planes and facilities well maintained and I feel extremely lucky to be part of the staff. It is one the larger schools on the west coast and can't help but smile everyday I take off and am greeted by lush green and amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens. The winter has brought some cold and rain, but that just means great chances to develop instrument skills in actual!

I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to work for a particular school to do at least some of their training there. It lets you check out the school, them to do the same and gives you a chance to let the school know what kind of pilot and person you are. I was lucky enough to have a language skill, which helped me get my foot in the door, but looking around at the people who have been hired, one of the biggest factors is attitude. No one wants an angry, bitter instructor! Find the place you want to work, show them how much you love to fly and how professional you are and hope for the best.

Getting my CFI and putting in the many hours going back over everything that I had learned up to that point and then preparing to teach it to someone cemented my knowledge. It was like everything I had learned up until that point was built on a house of cards, easily knocked down, not too sure of what I knew. I now feel like I have a foundation of brick, strong and sturdy and everyday I go up with a student I get to build on my knowledge and understanding. It has given me a newfound confidence, both in my flying ability and my ability to understand what it means to be a professional pilot. It has allowed me to sit back and gain a whole new perspective, make connections with what I have learned, and realize things I never would have been able to see if I was not teaching someone. I have just begun to scratch the surface of all there is to know, but I feel like I am twice the pilot I was two months ago. Not a bad reward for a little hard work and dedication!

It has been a hard road at times to get to where I am, but each time you reach the next level you are stronger, smarter and because you are doing what you love, happier. I can't wait to start working on my CFII and MEI and the experiences that I will gain over the next few years. Although a year ago I never expected to end up here, I would not trade it for anything. The feeling of satisfaction in knowing that your hard work and dedication have gotten you to where you are is incredible. And on top of that. the reward: you get paid to fly! I cannot imagine anything better.

Well, enough about me, sorry that dragged on so long, but now that we have some background, we can move into the good stuff. I was able to get a job at Hillsboro Aviation in part because of an excellent CFI named Jeff Peterson (I helped fill his position). SkyWest recently hired him and he is the topic of my next article. I interviewed Jeff and he has a great perspective on moving to the next level in his flying career. Stay tuned for his advice on how he made his dream of flying for SkyWest come true and what helped him along the way.

Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it.

Fly Safe.

 
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