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Pilot’s Digest: Tell us a little about yourself?

Alyssa Silva: I’m 29 years old, and from Massachusetts. I’m currently a full-time student at the American Flyers in Scottsdale, AZ. Prior to flight training, I was an Inflight Team Leader (Flight Attendant Supervisor).

PD: How did you get into flying?

AS: Prior to transitioning to an Inflight Team Leader, I was an Inflight Crewmember (Flight Attendant). During pilot lavatory breaks, I would have the privilege of sitting in the cockpit. In addition, I had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit for takeoff/landing due to aircrafts needing to be ferried to a different destination. I was hooked.

During my time as an Inflight Team Leader, I worked directly with Chief and Assistant Chief Pilots. I had mentioned to an Assistant Chief that I was interested in becoming a pilot. He gifted me my very first Introductory Flight! Another Assistant Chief lent me a headset to get me started! They both encouraged and motivated me each day. The Assistant Chief Pilots and everyone at the airline I had the pleasure of working for have been so supportive and loving to this day. My airline family is the reason I am here today!

PD: What made you choose American Flyers?

AS: Everything! I love how they offer Part 141 and Part 61. This gives every student flexibility, especially if they need to finish up a rating.

American Flyers creates an individualized experience for each student. Each student is on a personalized plan based on their individual needs, wants and goals. All of my grounds and flights are one-on-one with an instructor. This learning environment has been ideal for my flight training.

I love how they are extremely organized. There is a shelf full of every student’s binder where you can see exactly where each student is in their program. I can go look at my binder anytime! If I have a different instructor, they are able to look at my binder and know exactly what they need to cover prior to our lesson.

PD: What is your most memorable moment at American Flyers?

AS: My most memorable moment at American Flyers was my very first solo in the pattern at SDL. It was an incredible feeling to know that I was able to fly an aircraft by myself. Everyone here at American Flyers made me feel so special that day. I got to “ring the bell” followed by my instructor carrying on the tradition of cutting the back of my shirt. (If you are not familiar with this before there were headsets, instructors used to tug on students’ shirts to tell them which way to turn and what to do. Cutting the back of the shirt symbolizes that you no longer need an instructor.) I left the shirt at American Flyers and all of my fellow students signed it with cute messages. The shirt is currently hanging in my bedroom!

PD: Looking back, what advice would you give someone interested in starting pilot training?

AS: Start studying as far in advance as you can so that you have a knowledge base prior to starting. Do not try to learn things in the air. Learn on the ground first, then practice in the air. Make sure you are not spending all of your time flying or studying, you need to have a combination of both to succeed. Give yourself study days/ days off so that you do not burn out. Request instructors you learn best from/ click with. Do not be afraid to ask any question(s) or speak up if something does not feel right or safe. Backseat as much as you can. Go in the flight simulator and practice.

Figure out your “whys”. Why you want to be a pilot? What motivates you? I have a motivation board, but do whatever tickles your fancy. Stay organized, meditate, workout, practice yoga, eat healthy, drink lots of water, make sure to get enough sleep, and have fun! Set yourself up for success. Show up.

PD: What’s next for you?

AS: Receive my Instrument, Commercial, CFI, and CFII Ratings, instruct, work at a regional airline and then head back to the airline I started with!

PD: If you could fly anywhere, go to any flying destination, where would it be?

AS: First, I would stop in Boston to see my family and friends from home. Second, I would head to my next bucket list destination: Greece!