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"Aviation Career Testimonials"

Dear American Flyers,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the entire American Flyers staff for all that you did for me this summer. After receiving my Private Pilot's license from American Flyers in 2003, I left for school at Purdue University . I had an excellent first year in the Purdue Aircraft Maintenance Flight program, but when the year ended I knew that I needed to get ahead in the industry.

I came to American Flyers at the beginning of the summer with no more than 130 hours and told Dave Huser I wanted my CFI before the end of the summer. Within 48 hours, Dave and Randy Weber, chief flight instructor, had a program specially tailored to my situation and I was to start training the next day at nine am ! I started Instrument training first, and after finishing that in little over four weeks, I started what I consider to be my master's degree in flying, the CFI. Notice I didn't mention anything about my commercial rating. Dave, Randy and Jill Cardosi, my primary flight instructor, found a way to help me accomplish my commercial rating concurrently with the CFI, which was very demanding of me as a student. I had to learn to teach commercial students before I was even a commercial pilot! I took my Commercial check ride and immediately after started working towards my CFI signoff. I started school in August with a CFI rating in my pocket and a smile on my face.

American Flyers helped me achieve my goal no matter how large it was. Anytime the weather was good (or IMC!) I had an airplane in my hands and a world class instructor to help me with it! I know for a fact that this would not have been possible anywhere else on the airport, and anywhere else in the country, it might have lead to disaster. Thank you for helping me achieve my goals, and I hope to join you all this summer as an American Flyers Flight Instructor!


Patrick McHugh

Dear David:

As my time winds down here at the CFI Academy , I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. Thank you to Randy, Jill, Tim, Pete, Ace and all the instructors who not only worked with us, but took the time to check in on us, give us advice or just extend a friendly smile and greeting. The last one was the one that has helped me the most.

While that has been helpful, here is the best part – the education that I have received has been even better! In the years I have been flight training, I have seen different techniques in different schools, and by far, what I have seen here at American Flyers is superior to the rest. I have learned much, not only about aviation, but about myself, putting me in a great position to be a good teacher. For that I thank you. I wish you and all the staff continued good fortune and much success. Keep up the good work!


David D. Hartman

Flight Attendant Seeks Career as Pilot
Gloria Arevalo has already experienced the glamour of working for the airlines. She's been a flight attendant for 10 years and is now preparing to trade up to a seat in the cockpit. She has longed for the excitement of being behind the controls and decided to take a personal leave of absence to accomplish her goals. Not only is she almost done with her Private pilot training, but she's a senior at Utah Valley State College working on her bachelor's degree in Aviation Science/Professional Pilot.

"It was fun, fun, fun!" she said about her flight training experience. Gloria particularly enjoyed learning about the weather. She'd spent all those years as cabin crew, never worried about the weather – that was someone else's job. Now she finds it fascinating. "The best part is being able to do something you love. Don't be scared about changing careers. I procrastinated – too long, probably. Now I'm addicted to flying!" she says. In 2-3 months Gloria will be ready to start her professional pilot career as a flight instructor.

Pilot Turns to Teaching
Bill Derrick came to American Flyers six weeks ago a self proclaimed, “Average pilot.” Since then he has earned his Flight Instructor, Instrument Instructor, Advanced Ground Instructor and Instrument Ground Instructor ratings, and has just passed his Multi-engine Instructor practical exam. Through it all, Bill's enthusiasm has been evident. It may come in part from doing what he loves to do: fly and teach. But in all likelihood he has an enthusiastic nature as well, from which his future students are sure to benefit.

His background in aviation began in the Marine Corps while serving on helicopters and transport air crew. After the Marine Corps, Bill earned an MBA in Transportation and Finance and worked as a Human Resource Director and Environmental Health and Safety Director for major and mid-level oil companies.

Bill's wife has passed away and his children are grown. The decision to become a flight instructor was pretty easy to make. In fact, his wife had told him he'd never been happier than while teaching high school math one year. By combining his passion for aviation with his passion for teaching, Bill is bound to excel as a flight instructor.

Bill gives a lot of credit to American Flyers instructors and staff. “They were all too good to give credit to only a few,” he says. “I am greatly satisfied from the value I received from American Flyers and will highly recommend them to everyone I meet. I am way above average now.” We think so, too.

Pilot Plans to Travel the Globe
Scott Tezak's interest in flying was sparked when he was a Junior in High School. His friend's girlfriend's dad took them all up for a flight in a C-172. Scott begged his parents to take flying lessons. They said, "No. You need a plan." Young and adventurous and holding a wide-open future in his hands, he outlined what he needed to do in order to live out his dream of travelling the world using aviation as his tool. He recently finished his instructor ratings and was hired to teach at American Flyers. After a summer of full-time instructing, Scott plans to teach part-time and attend Rock Valley College to get his A & P license. Once he is a certified aircraft mechanic he plans to do some bush flying in Alaska. Then he'll head across the globe to Australia. He plans to spend 2-3 years at each location as he travels around the world.

For his first flight after he earned his Private Pilot certificate, he took up his buddy, also named Scott, and a couple of girls from High School. Taking girls flying has done wonders for their social lives. "We've taken tons of girls flying. We go out to eat a lot!" He says with a mischievous grin. Parents – beware of these two charming Scotts!

Make Room in the Cockpit
Having entered the world of aviation as a gate agent for Lufthansa and KLM Airlines, Ana Beltran caught the flying bug and eventually shifted into a career as a flight attendant. She discovered that she loves airplanes and the airline industry. When the captain or first officer needs to leave the cockpit, another member of crew has to come up and sit in the empty seat. Ana realized how great the view is from the cockpit – definitely something one could get used to! Now she has decided she wants to move up to the front of the airplane permanently.

Ana took a year of leave to become a pilot. She regrets that she didn't know of American Flyers right away, because it took her 5 months to earn her Private Pilot certificate, where it could have taken ten days instead. Training is so hard for ExpressJet, that American Flyers structure has been a good preparation for her. On October 1st Ana has to return to Continental Express either as a flight attendant or as a commercial pilot with 500 hours of flight experience. We are confident that Ana will be a first officer in no time!

Young Man's Work Pays Off
Matt Cooney's interest in aviation began in high school when he took an elective aviation science class. He thought it was going to be an easy class with lots of field trips. As it turned out, it wasn't easy, but it did change his life. One of his assignments was to interview someone involved in aviation, so he contacted a family friend, Neil, who was formerly a United Airlines captain. After the interview, they went flying… taking off from the runway in Neil's backyard.

Neil mentioned that his glider club offered a scholarship, so Matt wrote a winning essay and earned a $500 scholarship. He loved the rush he felt in the glider. That was the beginning of his pilot training.

After a while Matt's friends told him that he should become a pilot, because all he could talk about was airplanes and flying. Right around that time, he ran into his old friend Gil Rivera, who was an instructor at American Flyers, but had just been hired by an airline. Realizing how attainable an aviation career really is, he decided to train full time. He earned his Private Pilot certificate and his Instrument Rating in minimal time. He's well into his Commercial now.

Recently, he took his first passengers for a flight. His mother, Robin, and grandparents, Jack and Helen, appreciated Matt's piloting skills as well as the colors of the changing leaves.

After he finishes his Commercial training, Matt plans to get his Multi-engine and then attend our CFI Academy. Although he's not sure if he wants to fly corporate or airliners, he is sure that he wants to be a flight instructor.

A Legend in the Making
T.M. Smith is regarded as the oldest living American Flyers graduate. Smitty, as he's affectionately known around Addison Airport in Dallas, earned his CFI-A during the early summer of 1946 in an American Flyers Fairchild PT-19 open cockpit trainer. Sixtyone years later he is still flying in American Flyers airplanes, but now he is a very active FAA designated pilot examiner.

Five years after earning his instructor certificate, Smitty got his DC-3 ATP type rating at American Flyers. He spent many years as Chief Pilot at various flight schools, gaining the knowledge and expertise it takes to be effective examiner. For the last 20 years he has been giving checkrides and loving it.

The Dallas Morning News featured an article about Smitty in late September. After it was printed, former students started contacting him, which was a delight to Smitty. The article says that he has examined 10,000 students, and that doesn't bring into account how many he taught himself. One has to wonder exactly how many pilots there are flying who have in one way or another been influenced by Smitty.

Retirement doesn't appear to be on the horizon for this 86 year old pilot – a fact American Flyers applauds. Smitty's 66 years in aviation validates the theory that the secret to a long life is simply doing what you love to do. We're glad he shares it with us.

Intern Graduates to New Role as Instructor
When Matt Ketter was offered an opportunity to join the American Flyers Mechanic Internship Program he hesitated. A couple of days later he was listening to a pair of recruiters from another company. The first speaker talked of making tons of money with their company doing a somewhat risky job. Students started signing up like crazy. The second speaker told them if they had a dream, they should follow it. That advice stuck with Matt. He called up Rick and asked if he could still join the American Flyers team, because his dream was to be a pilot.

Soon Matt was headed out to the east coast for six weeks of training on the specifics of the Skyhawk. During his 5th week he learned that he would be needed at the West Chicago location, and was soon packed and on his way to DuPage Airport. Moments after he arrived he jumped right in and started working. Matt hadn't anticipated how much responsibility he would hold. His responsibilities included managing the shop and hangar; making sure that the airplanes were safe to fly; performing inspections and ordering parts in a timely manner; and studying and training for his pilot certificates and ratings. The independence he was given was balanced by the responsibility he had to take.

As he became accustomed to the routines of his new life, Matt quickly learned how to prioritize his responsibilities and manage his time. His position as an intern mechanic for American Flyers gave him some unique travel opportunities, like flying to Florida a couple of times and out to Morristown, NJ. Flying in different kinds of weather and terrain environments bumped up his experience level, preparing him for the unknown opportunities in his future.

It was a year and a half ago that he arrived at DuPage, and now Matt is finishing up his instructor training. Soon he'll be teaching full time and earning the experience he'll need for his wide open future in aviation. He's not sure exactly what he wants to do but being part of very large airline doesn't appeal to him much. He's thinking about mission or bush flying, or maybe a position as a corporate pilot. Whatever opportunities do come his way, he is sure his experience in the internship program will serve him well.

Career Dreams Become Reality
Carlos Castillo has always wanted to fly. For years his dream was stashed in the "someday" file, but the time came when he realized his current career wasn't going to give him the future he wanted. His desire was both to fulfill his dream and to plan for a still distant retirement. His wife, Cyndi, is an accountant and agreed to her husband's plans to change careers "after a bit of convincing". Now Carlos is about to complete his Private and begin working on his Instrument rating, while looking forward to the day he can instruct.

"This is the first thing I've ever done for myself," Carlos explains. Other than becoming a mechanic at 18, his life has twisted along a path not necessarily of his choosing, but of opportunities that came to him. Now it's his turn to make life go his way.

Having never been in a small airplane before coming to American Flyers, Carlos started with an IntroFlight. The flight was everything he dreamed it would be and he began full-time flight training. "It was harder than I expected. Information-wise it was much more than I thought it would be," he said. "You have to have patience. It's a process and you can't force it."

Young Man Keeps Aviation in the Family
Kim Unger's stories about flying must have made an impression on her son, Brian, because when he was offered a ride by a neighbor he jumped at it. Sure enough, mom was right. Flying was great. "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be", he said. After realizing that learning to land wasn't so difficult, Brian thought, "Hmmm, I can do this." That's when he knew that he wanted to be a professional pilot – an airline pilot to be exact.

Brian is enrolled in the career program, having earned his Private and Instrument Rating. He's considering joining the CFI Academy when he gets his Commercial Certificate. He's planning to instruct while attending college. Right now, though, he's enjoying building his cross-country time. He recently ferried an American Flyers airplane to Morristown, New Jersey with an instructor for an aircraft swap.

Through all of his exciting, new experiences, Brian hasn't forgotten the person he inherited his passion from. His mom was the first person he took flying and she still loved it.

Pilot Prepares to Start New Career
There is a reason American Flyers is known as the "Finish-Up School" and Eric Goodenough of Deltona, Florida recently experienced the kind of finishing up we provide.

Eric was the kid who'd run outside every time he heard an airplane fly overhead. He'd search the blue sky for the object of his affection. In high school he studied Airspace Science in Air Force Junior ROTC. "I always had an amazement for airplanes," he said.

When the time was right, he began training at a well known flight school in Florida, but found the pace to be too slow. His uncle and mentor, Eddie Royko, suggested looking into American Flyers because he'd been their chief pilot in the '80s when they were based at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Operations Director Joe Cannizzaro met them on a weekend to show them around the Pompano school and Eric was easily convinced that this was the place for him.

He arrived in Pompano Beach in mid-February and flew nonstop. He needed 90 hours to qualify for his Commercial Certificate and within a month and a half he'd met the requirements and passed his check ride. Two days later he started working on his Multi-engine and took that check ride seven days later. From there he went right into the CFI Academy, which he finished with success.

Now he's taking a couple weeks off to see his family and he'll back as a CFI in Pompano. His long-term goal is to fly jets for a major airline someday, but for now he thinks he's going to enjoy teaching.

Love of Flying Starts Early
Even though Curtis Griswold, 24, was on his way to take his commercial pilot checkride, he had no trouble thinking back to how it all began. “I've been infatuated with flying since I was a little kid”. By the time he was 14 years old, he knew for sure he was going to fly.

His interest began as a small child when he was regaled with tales by his grandfathers. Both granddads served in World War II as bomber pilots; it was these stories that helped lay a foundation for Curtis, allowing his interest to turn into love, and eventually a life-long goal.

Curtis attended the North Georgia Military College, where he was a Corp Cadet Captain. Upon graduation in 2007, he was ready to embark on an aviation career. After completing his private and instrument courses, his sights were set on earning his commercial license. As Curtis succinctly put it, “I want to get paid to fly one day.” His ultimate goal is to be a corporate pilot, hopefully at the controls of a VLJ, saying, that's just the trend these days. Curtis would also consider a career in the airlines, or as a flight instructor. But no matter which option he chooses, he just wants to fly.

His most memorable flight came on a recent weekend as Curtis flew three friends to Plains, GA for a wedding. This was his first time in IMC after earning his instrument rating. Curtis said, “It was just a good time to be out of the hot-seat and enjoy flying.

Life of a Pilot before Flight
For Dariel Padron, his flying career began January 8, 2008 when he entered the Nexus Program; he began with no accrued flight time. In June 2008, he was hired by American Flyers as a flight instructor. Dariel called the training “quick” and “productive” and he loves what he does. However, the real story begins in the years before he began training. Dariel graduated from Florida Atlantic University with degrees in history and Spanish, but couldn't find a career that suited him. With many hours spent “looking back” at himself trying to find what it was that moved him, Dariel found himself looking at old school papers and notebooks and realized they bore a common theme; each one was dotted with drawings of airplanes. Recalling further all the aviation movies he had seen, all the air shows he had been to and all the video and computer games he played, he realized that he had been living the life of a pilot. The only thing missing was the flying itself. As Dariel would say, “I had forgotten I wanted to fly.” His first aviation job was with Silver Express FBO in Miami, and it wasn't long before he had saved enough money to enroll in a flighttraining program. Currently, Dariel is gaining experience as a flight instructor, but longs to move on to bigger airplanes. He would like to fly for a regional carrier, “I love twin turboprops,” says Dariel, adding that his favorite is the Beech 1900. While his dream may have been forgotten, it was never lost.

Success Story
John Downing graduated from American Flyers in April 2008 with a commercial multi engine certificate and now he is enjoying his career as a corporate pilot with some important responsibilities.

John enrolled at American Flyers in Florida after his attempts to obtaining reliable flight training were frustrated. “I have always been interested [in flying], but never thought of it as a career,” said John, who initially began flight lessons in 2001 after graduating high school.

During his first experience in flight training John accrued only four hours of flight time after nineteen days, and he knew he had to do something, “Or I'd still be working on my private.”

John came to American Flyers in June 2007 still without his private. After only ten days, he had his license in his hand. From there John followed the career pilot track and went on to complete his instrument, commercial and multiengine ratings. After the completion of his courses, he went straight into the world of corporate flying.

The Zanesville, Ohio resident says that his job is roughly “60-70% on-demand” and he has flown every mission type from carrying executives on company trips to air ambulance flights with a full compliment of medical technicians on board, to flying harvested organs across the Midwest. Currently, John is a crew member on the Beechcraft F-90 and B-200 series, but his company's fleet also has Citation II's on hand.

John expresses his pleasure that he is able to work in aviation saying that it is something, “not a lot of people get to do,” and that he “definitely” wants to stay a corporate pilot.

Hard Work Will Pay Off
Brimming with a combination of enthusiasm for his next flight and a dose of school-pride, Tim Perry, 22, of Los Angeles has been working hard toward his goal of becoming a career pilot. His dream began young, and he has worked hard to make it into a reality.

Tim recalled seeing aircraft overhead near his childhood home and thinking, “I wish I could do that.” Even as he grew up and began working, his dream never really left him. Having computer programming skills and a love for computers, Tim began searching for a job in the computer field, but most of his jobs turned out to be “dead ends,” he said.

However, in 1998, his dream came back in full force with the release of Flight Simulator '98. “I just really got into it,” said Tim, explaining that he knew that this is what he wanted to do. Even though he was still looking for an ideal job as a programmer, Tim gradually began modifying his job search into a search for a flight school. Tim did find a job, but the prospect of learning to fly still kept him searching for the ideal flight school, and he found one in American Flyers.

In May 2008, Tim began flight training full-time while holding a full-time position as a security officer. After working third shift, Tim heads home for sleep, and by three in the afternoon, he is at the airport working on his lessons. With this hectic schedule, Tim earned his private license in July and his instrument rating in September. Tim is currently working on his commercial license and he is eagerly anticipating his flight test.

While looking forward to an airline career in the future, he says, “I really want to instruct.” For right now, it's one thing at a time.

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