Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Aaron Connor, and I am a fire captain, husband, and father of two. I began my career as a volunteer with Klein Fire Department in 1998. While there, I held many ranks, from captain to district chief, and I was hired part-time as a fire captain. I joined the Houston Fire Department in 2001 and advanced to captain in 2016. When not working or with my family, I am a student with American Flyers at the Houston location. I began my pilot journey in August 2022, working up to my CFI-I and multi-engine certifications. My goal is to complete all the certifications within a year. It has always been a dream of mine to become a pilot.
How did you get into flying?
My father started flying in the early 90s when I was about twelve. He brought me along one day, and the aviation seed was planted at my first lesson. I have always been fascinated with planes as my grandfather was a B-24 pilot in WWII, and I always loved hearing his stories. I joined the Civil Air Patrol shortly after to further my aeronautical knowledge and experience. As many years passed by, I still had the dream of flying and did so occasionally. It was when my wife and I were discussing future plans that she suggested I look into becoming a pilot. So here I am, paving the way for a new career path with the blessing of a very supportive wife!
Tell us how you went about choosing a flight school.
I visited several schools before deciding on American Flyers. I approached each school and talked with the staff to learn more about their teaching style. A significant determining factor was whether their course would work with my current shift schedule. I needed to look at the quality and quantity of the aircraft available for training. I wanted to enroll in a 141 program with a flexible career path. Some schools had strict attendance policies or other requirements that wouldn’t work with my lifestyle, so I chose to “go missed” at the other schools.
What made you choose American Flyers?
The staff at American Flyers are very professional and friendly. To have the flexibility of attending school while still being able to work is just what I needed. I loved that the course was entirely laid out for me, and it was easy to obtain all the certifications in a year’s time frame. American Flyers’ in-house support for getting third-party financial assistance was also very helpful. Finally, the quality and quantity of aircraft that are available at American Flyers was a significant factor in the decision to train with American Flyers. With these factors compared to the other schools, I had the “visibility and the runway environment in sight,” so I continued past the decision height, landing with American Flyers.
How much outside studying did you have to put in during your time with AF?
It’s best to keep studying outside of flight school to keep up with everything. There is so much information to know, especially for the instrument rating. I put in a few hours each day with flashcards, reading aviation books, or watching aviation videos. I also listened to several aviation podcasts while driving. A good pilot is always learning, even the basics!
What is your most memorable moment at American Flyers?
Several! One of the biggest was my shirt tail being cut off after my first solo flight. That felt like a significant accomplishment. And I certainly can’t forget ringing the bell for my private pilot certificate shortly after.
Looking back, what advice would you give someone interested in starting pilot training?
If I started my pilot journey at forty-two, you can do it too! The instructors are there to help you. Ask lots of questions, and be ready to learn. Keep going even when it is hard. Every challenge can present a new lesson.
What’s next for you?
I plan to retire from the Houston Fire Department after twenty-two years. I want to accomplish my dream of becoming a pilot by changing careers. I have finished my instrument rating and am very close to finishing my commercial rating. Soon I will have completed CFI-A, CFI-I, and multi-engine. Once I have finished all my certifications, I plan to join American Flyers as an instructor to pass on my knowledge as I build time for the airlines.
If you could fly anywhere, go to any flying destination, where would it be?
I would love to take a float plane from island to island in the Caribbean and explore remote beaches with my family.