Every person that can call themselves a pilot has a unique story, and I am no different. Aviation for me started at a young age. I grew up on the shoulders of pilots. My grandfather was an RF4 Phantom pilot for the U.S. Air Force and my father was a U.S. Air Force KC135/KC10 pilot and UPS Boeing 767 Captain. Being surrounded by the world of aviation all my life, naturally I developed an interest in it at a young age. When I was 14, I took my first discovery flight and was hooked on the idea of becoming a pilot. At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it a career, but it was always in the back of my head that it was something I wanted to accomplish someday. In the summer of 2017, I decided I wanted to pursue my pilot license and it was through a good family friend that I found Riverside Flight Academy. Mitchell Miller, a former instructor and now a United Airlines pilot, gave me my first introduction into the world of aviation. Soon after starting flying lessons, it was time for me to go back to college at San Jose State University, where at the time I was studying political science.
During my college years, my school schedule and – as every student pilot can understand – weather delays really slowed me down. I did not feel rushed to get my license because I was more focused on my education. Also, when I came home for summers, I would fly at RFA when I could, but I spent most of my days working as a student intern in the Riverside Mayor’s Office. It was not until after I graduated college that I completed my Private Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Commercial Single/Multi Certificate, and Certified Flight Instructor. While working on my CFI, I took a job at Million Air, located at March Air Reserve Base. While I was there, I worked on the flight line, fueling large commercial aircraft and business jets.
Throughout my entire time flying I have been able to do some incredible things: taking a small 172 into LAX, enjoying flying down the beach at sunset, and even cruising along the mountains after a snowy day. I don’t think I would be half the pilot I am now if it wasn’t for RFA and the instructors they have. Going to the academy has always felt like a family environment. I have heard lots of stories from people who felt their flight school didn’t care for them, but I can honestly say I have never felt that way at RFA. From a student perspective I always felt the instructors had my best interest in mind and now from an instructor perspective, I have never worked in a better work environment. The last point I want to make is to offer some advice to those who might want to pursue a career in aviation. In the big scheme of things, I haven’t been doing this all that long compared to some others in this industry. However, I have learned some tough lessons along the way and maybe I can pass on some advice, so you don’t make the same errors I made. Enjoy the phase you are in. Many pilots try to rush through training and go off to airlines as soon as possible but flying in general aviation is the most unique flying you will ever do and for many it will only last for a few years and some never return after leaving. The stories you will be able to tell from this time in your life will last you a lifetime so enjoy it while you are in it. As I said in the beginning, every pilot has their own story… now it’s time for you to make your own… see you at RFA.