By American Flyers
Pilot’s Digest: How long have you wanted to be a pilot, and why?
Ian Perkins: I have wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember. I remember being on holiday with my family in Ishpeming, Michigan, when I was young. When flying home, we had to take a small multi-engine prop aircraft back to the larger airport for the jet to bring us back to Florida. When the pilot got on board, he saw my sister and I sitting in aisle seats. He then proceeded to rearrange the eight other passengers, so my sister and I could have a window seat. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but this very well could have been the flight that sparked my love of flying.
PD: What made you choose American Flyers for your flight training?
IP: I attended Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I knew when I entered college that I loved aviation and wanted to pursue it as a career. At the time, Nova and American Flyers had partnered to create an Aviation major. Being offered a spot to swim for the university as well, it seemed like the perfect fit, so I packed my bags and off I went. I started helping at the American Flyers in Pompano Beach, Florida, a few days a week as part of a course I needed for my major. Unfortunately, I experienced some financial difficulties, which did not allow me to continue university at the time. Flyers was gracious enough to offer me a full-time position and I have been with the company ever since.
PD: Dream question: You have a bunch of time off, money is not an object, and you get to fly anywhere.
IP: If given the option, I would choose Jeffreys Bay in South Africa. It has always been a dream of mine to surf there. If given the option to fly anything, I would love to fly the Challenger 604. I was recently given the opportunity to go see the PepsiCo fleet, and the 604s were very impressive.
PD: When did you graduate from American Flyers?
IP: I finished my private pilot certificate in September of 2016. I finished my instrument rating in September of 2017, and I’m aiming to be done with my commercial in early January of 2018. Then on to the CFIs!
PD: How did you go about choosing the right flight school for you? What made you choose American Flyers for your flight training?
IP: Working at American Flyers prior to starting my private pilot training provided me with the unique opportunity to see the quality education that occurs here as opposed to other schools. Like many others, I was curious about some of the schools that advertised lower prices. One of our Chief Pilots and a good friend who helped me find my way in aviation, Paul Janecki advised me to go see the other schools and what they offer. In doing so, it opened my eyes to what American Flyers offers: quality education, fantastic facilities, excellent maintenance and a fabulous community willing to help every step of the way.
PD: What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a pilot?
IP: Follow your passion! I was lucky enough to have my mother believe in my dream, but there were certainly those who opposed it. If you have the drive and love aviation, don’t let anyone stop you! Aviation is a great community. Whether you are doing it for fun or for a career, there is no better feeling than completing your first solo or holding that certificate in your hands. It’s well worth the investment.
PD: What is your favorite memory at American Flyers?
IP: It’s hard to pick just one, but my favorite memory has to be my first solo. All the instructors and employees were so excited for me. They all signed the shirt I was given. It was a great feeling. Also, I didn’t break anything, so that was a plus.
PD: Why did you choose to participate in the American Flyers’ Co-Op Program? How did you hear about the program?
IP: Working at our school in Pompano, I was aware of the internship programs. The program has provided me with the opportunity to complete my flight training. Without the program there was no way (financially speaking) that I would have been able to complete my training in the near future.
PD: What are your professional career goals that made the American Flyers’ Co-Op Program a good fit for you?
IP: Like most, I have airline aspirations. However, I’m not quite sure I want to stay there long term. If I had the choice of job at the moment, my dream job would be flying for a company like National Geographic, which would provide me with the ability to see some exotic places in the world. The training I have received at Flyers makes me confident in my ability to handle any situations I incur.
“The sense of community at American Flyers is unparalleled. Instructors and fellow students are willing to help you at every turn.”
PD: Is it challenging to be working full-time while training to become a pilot?
IP: It’s very challenging! It’s hard to manage a full-time job and full-time training. When you aren’t at work, you are expected to be studying. It is definitely a rigorous program but well worth it if you can stick it out until the end.
PD: How far do you plan on going with your flight training?
IP: I would like to go all the way up through my CFI’s and even transition into an instructing role at Flyers if provided with the opportunity.
PD: What are some of the advantages of working around other students and pilots while being a student pilot yourself?
IP: Working so closely with the staff in Pompano and now in Addison, you are provided with the unique opportunity to learn and hear different ways of teaching. As I said earlier inthe interview, the sense of community at American Flyers is unparalleled. Instructors and fellow students are willing to help you at every turn.
PD: What do you like most about working with one of the oldest flight training schools in the United States?
IP: As with any job, the people make the place. We really do have an incredible staff of instructors and office personnel. With such a close-knit group, you are guaranteed to make some incredible friends as I have during my time here.
PD: What advice would you give to somebody interested in the American Flyers’ Co-Op Program?
IP: In all honesty, be prepared. I had heard it was a challenging program, but I was a little unprepared for the difficulty of managing a full-time job with a very active flight training schedule. It is a difficult program, but if you can lean on the friends you make here, you’ll make it through the program, and it will all be worth it!