K-State graduation year: December 2004
Degree: BS in airway science-professional pilot; associate of science in business
Current employer: FlightSafety International, Hawker Beechcraft Learning Center
Position: Flight instructor
How many times did you change your major during college?
Describe the process of choosing your major:
I was always interested in airplanes and flight. While I was in high school, I had the opportunity to attend the Kansas Cosmosphere Academy. While there a K-Statet Salina representative came to talk about the college and the degree programs. I decided that it was right for my interests and decided to attend a Day in the Life program on the Salina campus, and my decision was easily made.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
K-State Flight Team
Alpha Eta Rho international aviation fraternity
K-State at Salina Student Government Association
Phi Delta Theta, founding member
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
While attending the Kansas Cosmosphere Academy, I completed an internship at Mead Aircraft in Hutchinson. While still in college, my wife and I moved to Hays, Kansas, and I was fortunate enough to get connected with the local fixed base operator.
I began giving flying lessons, and through a relationship with one of my students, I was hired full-time to become his corporate pilot. After a time with that company I was contacted by the K-State Salina career services office about a position instructing for FlightSafety International in Wichita, Kansas. After that, the rest is history.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
I had a very abnormal process of finding my first job. In reality, all three of my positions in aviation have really fallen into my lap. The only interview that I completed was for FlightSafety International. This interview was laid back, and the staff really impressed me with their care for the people of their company. I did have a little bit of networking at FlightSafety from friends who were working for the company as interns at the time.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
A typical day for me is to show up at work about 1 to 1.5 hours before my scheduled briefing time. I gather the necessary aeronautical charts and prepare for the clients that I'm working with for the day’s session.
After a one-hour briefing with the client about the items that will be covered during the session, the simulator session begins. I take every advantage to help each client to become a better pilot as well as to know more about the avionics they are utilizing.
After the simulator session we debrief for an hour and review the items that were covered as well as the performance of the pilot/crew. After the clients leave there's about another hour of paperwork to be completed before the day is complete.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy that I get to impact pilots every day to make them safer and more effective pilots. It means a lot to me that I get to impact people in this way at this point in my career.
As another aspect of my job, I enjoy working with the changing ways that FlightSafety conducts its courseware and helping the company achieve its own goals. As a byproduct of working at FlightSafety, since I am not traveling as a normal pilot does, I really enjoy spending time with my family.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
One of the most challenging aspects of my job at FlightSafety is working with clients from a wide range of countries from around the world. It is also challenging learning to understand how different cultures work and how to communicate well in different ways, including through interpreters for clients who don't speak English.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
I would advise someone to never lose focus of your real passion. But don't paint yourself into a corner of the industry. Be open to all available avenues to pursue your dreams. The world of aviation has its ups and downs, so just ride out the storm, and you’ll be just fine.