August 2009

Every pilot, it seems, knows from the very beginning that he/she wants to pursue a career in aviation. I knew it the second I stepped foot into the cockpit of a FedEx Express Boeing 727 at Newark Airport. Even though I had no clue what I was looking at or what I was doing for that matter, it seemed just as cool then as it does now.

On almost every flight I’ve boarded since, I have received a tour of the cockpit, and have had the opportunity to sit in the captain’s chair. With each visit, I grew more and more interested in the aviation world. During my high school years, I spent hours researching aircraft, airports, playing MS Flight Simulator, reading the forums and looking up at the sky every time I heard a plane flying overhead.

I was an A- student in high school and I was a member of both the National Honor Society and the Italian Honor Society. Throughout high school I enrolled in as many dual enrollment courses as possible and took AP exams during my senior year. All of which turned into seventeen transfer credits to the University. I’ve basically wiped out a semester for a fraction of the cost. I definitely recommend it, because it’s a good eye-opener to college coursework, and because you can’t beat the prices.

Discovering the perfect college for me, was not a simple task. I had always known about ERAU but wondered what other schools that offered similar degree programs were like. So I went exploring locally in New York, followed by a trip to the mid-west and finally Florida. After discovering what these other schools had to offer I was able to make my final decision; to attend Embry-Riddle.

During the first semester of my senior year, I submitted my applications to ERAU, WMich, FIT, JU, Vaughn, & Dowling. I applied to six schools, which I grouped into three categories, First-Choice, Medium-Choice, and Fall-Back. Fortunately for me I got accepted to each one, which was great because at that point my options were unlimited. The first school to notify me that I gained acceptance was Embry-Riddle, just before the Christmas Break and it was possibly the best feeling ever. Everything was going my way!

The remainder of my senior year of high school, involved a program called “Senior Seminar.” A class where each student enrolls him/herself in an internship; I choose flight training to become a pilot. To receive my flight training I attended a local flight school at Essex County Airport (Caldwell). I enrolled in a Part 141 training program to ultimately receive a private pilots certificate. I started out learning the basics during ground school, which was one-on-one with my flight instructor. I preferred this method over large classes, because it offers the student a better understanding of the material. In addition, my school had a full video library available to its students for training purposes, to reinforce each lesson. I highly recommend these videos from Jeppesen and King Schools to better any pilot during flight training. Throughout the course I learned many operations, maneuvers, and gained a knowledge about the aviation world. Overall I was loving every minute of it!

My final thoughts before leaving to attend ERAU were career related. I wasn’t sure if becoming a pilot would provide me with the job environment I had hoped for. I was constantly reminded by fellow pilots to always have something to fall back on. Whether it be medicine, engineering, or law, the key thing to remember is that your career as a pilot relies on you maintaining the conditions set-forth by an FAA Medical Certificate. Many people in their forties discover health problems which can determine them physically unfit to pilot an aircraft. Another factor to consider would be the trends of the airline industry, with all the furloughs and lay-offs that have occurred. These two facts need to be taken into account when determining a major or minor course of study. The ‘what if’ factor definitely should be asked upon oneself before finalizing majors and minors, so I’ll be exploring those options over the next months here.

Over and Out.