Internship helps K-State Salina aviation student fly closer to his goals
Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013
MANHATTAN -- Bryan Brooks' summer was just "plane" fun.
Brooks, a senior in professional pilot at Kansas State University Salina, got to hang out at Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, and learn about the aviation industry as a summer intern for American Airlines.
"The goal of my internship was to participate and observe in airline flight operations as well as to better prepare myself for a professional career," Brooks said.
That's just what happened. During his internship, Brooks got to pick up a brand-new Boeing 737-800 from the airplane maker in Seattle, Wash., and fly it to Dallas, Texas. He got to try out a simulator for the Boeing 777 -- the world's largest twinjet -- and even interviewed for a job as a first officer with American Eagle.
The internship perks were nice, too. Brooks, who is from Salina, was given unlimited free travel with first-class seating privileges. He took advantage of that it by flying to Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Wichita, Kan.
Internship experiences are one of the most valuable experiences that student can engage in while in college, Brooks said. They allow students to test-drive a career and put real-world application to theory and knowledge gleaned from the classroom.
Along with the experience gained through the internship, Kansas State University students also can receive academic credit. Brooks kept a required journal in which he answered questions about ethical dilemmas and leadership styles. He also had to prepare and deliver a campus presentation.
The internship also puts Brooks one step closer to his goal of becoming a professional pilot.
"I grew up wanting to be a pilot," Brooks said. "The desire to be a pilot was not only in my nature, but also provided in my nurture by my father and grandfather."
His grandfather was a U.S. Navy pilot during World War II who flew every airframe in the Navy's fleet. Brooks grew up listening to his grandfather's stories about dive-bombing German U-boats and flying in the Navy's first helicopter squadron.
At the age of 17, Brooks was a licensed airplane pilot, and by 19 he had a commission in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot. He served a year in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan, flying more 1,200 combat hours and earning four Air Medals.
Brooks is attending K-State Salina through the Army's degree completion program, which has granted him time to complete his degree and then report back to his unit when he is finished.
"Kansas State has been an eye-opener for my aviation career as everyone has been extremely courteous and professional in all aspects of the aviation field," he said. "While at Kansas State, I have been able to expand on my airplane experience and qualifications, earning my instructor certificate and multiengine ratings."
Brooks' dream job was be would be one where he could fly both airplanes and helicopters, such as in an emergency medical services position or working with the Department of Homeland Security.