By Andrew Henley
I have been passionate about aviation longer than I have been a licensed pilot. Like most people, my passion started when I was a kid. I was fortunate enough to have an uncle that owned a charter company and he had access to an entire fleet of airplanes. From time to time, he would take me to the local airport, and we would fly together. I remember my first flight like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1983 and I sat in the right seat of a Cessna 210. Seeing as I was only 4, my uncle was nice enough to put 4 or 5 blankets underneath me so that I could see above the dash. As we sat there, he looked at me and said, “Alright, show me how to get this thing started.” The 4-year-old me laughed and said, “I have no idea how to do that!” He smiled and said, “I’ll show you.” And once he got the airplane started, we spent the morning flying around the greater Chicago area. From that moment on, I was hooked.
Although I always longed to become a pilot, I waited until I was in my early 20’s to begin flight training. It wasn’t until my mother purchased an introductory flight for me that I took the first step. As soon as I entered the American Flyers office at DuPage Airport, I knew becoming a pilot was something I could accomplish. My introductory flight taught me a lot. First and foremost, my instructor taught me that anyone is capable of being a pilot. Second and equally important, the local staff walked me through the various finance options available to me so that I had a better understanding of how I would pay for my flight training. The staff’s attention to detail was amazing. They provided a plan, which I thought was going to be complicated, but was simple and easy to understand. Their guidance helped me accomplish my goal within my desired timeframe and budget. But what amazed me most about my experience with American Flyers was the passion I felt from every single employee that I encountered.
When you’re around passionate people, their passion becomes infectious. As a student, I fed off the positive energy that came from the staff. That’s why I wanted to work for American Flyers. From my first day as a student, I sensed that I was surrounded by people that felt the same feelings I felt. These were people that understood my dream and worked hard to ensure I accomplished my goals. Literally every single employee knew my name, where I was in my training, and treated me as if I was the only student.
20 years later, as an employee, I have dedicated myself to supporting our students the way I was supported. As employees, we share in their excitement, and it drives us to help them become aviators. In my opinion, the two best days at American Flyers are when a student begins their training and when they ring the bell signifying the completion of their check ride. We have something in common with every single student; we love aviation. Some have wanted to be a pilot for as long as they can remember. Others have wanted to become a pilot since they took their first flight. Either way, we share a bond that is as strong as any.
If you’re passionate about aviation and haven’t started training, call us at 1-800-362-0808. We would love to help you accomplish your goals. If you’re already an aviator, please share your fondness for aviation and take the time to speak with people about becoming a pilot. Let’s do our part and work together to share the passion and love we have for this wonderful thing called flying!