Pilot’s Digest: Tell us a little about yourself?
Gustavia Cartwright: I’m Gustavia Cartwright but I have gone by the name Gus my whole life. I just recently finished flight training and am now working as a Flight Instructor. Three fun facts about me: I design and sew/make women’s clothing in my free time. I love Cosplay and so, I go all-out for Halloween every year. I am obsessed with my shoe collection— I easily own more than 50 pairs of shoes.
PD: How did you get into flying?
GC: As a flight attendant, I was fortunate enough to work a ferry flight from Santiago, Chile to Dallas. Since ferry flights do not have passengers on board the aircraft, the pilots allowed me to sit in the Boeing 777 cockpit jump seat during takeoff. From that moment, the adrenaline and excitement rushed through me and I knew that I needed to make the transition and learn how to fly.
PD: Tell us how you went about choosing a flight school?
GC: To jumpstart my flight training, I applied for the American Airlines Cadet Academy. After being accepted into the program, I was given three choices of schools that I could attend.
PD: What made you choose American Flyers?
GC: I had three schools to choose from for the AA Cadet Academy. But, the staff at American Flyers is what stood out the most to me. When I requested a tour, Brian Williams was extremely helpful and welcoming. I loved the team approach to instructing students, the friendliness of the flight instructors and the resources available to obtain a great education. In addition to all of that, the school is located in the DFW area, which allowed me to be close to my friends and family. All these factors were enough for me to quickly make my decision on my choice of school.
PD: How much outside studying did you have to put in during your time with AF?
GC: Considering being in a group/team setting and the pace of the program, I pretty much lived and breathed aviation. Some nights I caught myself chair flying in my sleep and dreaming about hold entries. Studying outside of AF never seemed to stop.
PD: What is your most memorable moment at American Flyers?
GC: My most memorable moment at American Flyers would be one of my earlier training flights with Chief Pilot Stacy Goulding. Before the lesson began, Stacy said to me, “we’re going” because it was written all over my face I felt otherwise. The goal of this lesson was to practice fundamental maneuvers, crosswind landings and to overall build confidence with flying in windier conditions. All of these things combined made this lesson a truly imperative one. We flew to the east practice area and completed the intended maneuvers. When it was time to head back to Addison, the wind speed picked up more than predicted or expected. At this moment, I was extremely nervous and overwhelmed while trying to maintain a 30-degree crosswind correction to maintain my course to Addison. As we were flying, we saw a Boeing 737 in the wind about 500-1000 feet above us (the coolest thing ever). After what felt like an eternity, we were transferred to the Addison Tower and were cleared to land. We touched down for landing and then suddenly, a gust of wind made us airborne again. I began calling on Jesus and blurting out all types of profanities because this was completely unexpected and I was frazzled attempting to safely get this plane back on the runway. Throughout all of this, Stacy could not stop laughing at me. We finally made it on the ground and were cleared to taxi back to American Flyers South. That one flight made me so much more confident with my crosswind landings and flying in windy conditions than any other experience.
PD: Looking back, what advice would you give someone interested in starting pilot training?
GC: The best advice I could give is to just maintain a positive attitude and to not be afraid to ask for help. Pilot training is a difficult journey and if it were easy, everyone would do it. (I know this saying is cliché, but it is very, very true.)
PD: What’s next for you?
GC: As of right now, my next step is to build hours as a flight instructor to become an airline pilot. I say this loosely because there is a plethora of opportunities for pilots, so being an airline pilot in the future could possibly change.
PD: If you could fly anywhere, go to any flying destination, where would it be?
GC: I would love to go to Gustavia, St Barts. What can I say? It’s all in the name.