Pilot’s Digest: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brystal Duppstadt: I am from Euless, Texas. I graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in May of this year, where I studied mechanical engineering. Apart from flying, I enjoy live music, traveling, hiking and playing the banjo.
PD: How did you get into flying?
BD: I have wanted to become a pilot ever since I was a little girl. I told my parents that I wanted to have a job where I could push a lot of buttons, and they suggested I become a pilot. The entire time I was in college I was longing to pursue this childhood dream. Halfway through, I was introduced to two pilots who would later mentor me. These two women helped me find a flight school where I completed my private pilot training just after I graduated from SMU and was accepted into the American Airlines Cadet Academy.
PD: Out of the three flight training providers for the AA Cadet Program, what made you decide to train with American Flyers?
BD: Before I started training at my previous flight school, I took my discovery flight at American Flyers and loved everything about the experience. I could easily see how passionate all of the instructors are and it rubbed off on me.
PD: What differences have you experienced between being a part of the Cadet Program versus training for your Private on your own?
BD: There is a lot of structure involved with the Cadet program that I did not necessarily have before, and I believe it helps me thrive. I had two awesome instructors who got me through my previous training, but I was doing it alone. Because of the Cadet Academy, I am now surrounded by other students who are so passionate about what we are working towards, and we truly push and help each other along.
PD: What has been the best part about being an AA Cadet?
BD: My favorite thing about being an AA Cadet is the relationships I have formed. My class of cadets is such a special group, and we have been able to really support each other and push each other to be the best we can. I have loved getting to learn from my incredible instructors at American Flyers, as well as from my American Airlines mentor.
PD: What has been the most challenging part so far about being an AA Cadet?
BD: The most challenging part about being an American Airlines Cadet is also one of the best parts about it. We are extremely busy and every single day looks different from the day before, so it is hard for me to plan my life around that. But it has actually been a good thing because for one, I get to spend a ton of time in the air and with the other cadets, and two, it has surprisingly decreased the amount of stress I feel. I cannot worry about anything in the coming weeks if I only know my schedule for tomorrow. It has really taught me the value of being flexible.
PD: What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a pilot?
BD: I would tell someone that is interested in becoming a pilot to absolutely give it a shot! It is the kind of thing you will regret not having tried later in life. More than likely, anything that is holding you back will be completely forgotten once you take a discovery flight and realize how incredible it is to fly an airplane. Also, just start talking to people within the aviation community. In aviation, everyone is excited to help potential pilots get started, so find yourself a mentor!
PD: What advice can you give to other AA Cadets that will follow behind you?
BD: Remember the end goal. Flight school might very well be the most difficult thing you have ever done, but it is more than worth it. You will meet incredible people along the way. It’s important to remember how fortunate you are to be a part of this.
PD: What’s next for you after you complete the Cadet Program?
BD: After graduating from the Cadet Academy, I am excited to work as a CFI. I think the instructor/student relationship is so cool because it involves a lot of trust but there is also so much reward on both ends. I just want to pay forward all the knowledge my instructors and mentors have given to me.