My experience becoming a professional pilot
My first discovery flight was in a helicopter, and from the very beginning I knew I wanted to fly air ambulance. The excitement of our emergency nature and success of helping out people in distress seemed very appealing. It has been a fun journey making those dreams come true, and currently I am flying PIC of a King Air for Air Medical Research Group out of New Mexico. The pay and schedule are amazing for my limited experience in the aviation industry. I couldn’t be here today without the help I have received along the way. I had great flight instructors such as Darrel Pugmire, Joshua Williams, Marilyn Riddle and Jay Lessley.
I completed my training through cfr. part 61 schools and was able to acquire my licenses with very little student loan debt. Paying for your flight training completely out of pocket may be impossible for some given various circumstances. However, I would like to stress to avoid cfr. 141 schools that are triple the cost of aviation programs such as Diamond Flight Center
I flew with fellow captains at Ameriflight that went to Emby-Riddle and had acquired $180,000 in student loans compared to my cost at $45,000. Yet, here we were flying the same equipment for the same pay. With loans in this excess, their entire paycheck went to making the minimum monthly payment.
A massive shift is taking place in the aviation industry due to the pilot shortage, and whether you want to go to the airlines or apply yourself towards a cfr. 135 job out of school, there are opportunities everywhere. I loved my time flying feeder-freight for Ameriflight. It provided real-world flying experience both domestic and international in all types of weather and conditions. I had to grow up quickly! I went from flying general aviation diamond equipment to PIC in a King Air BE99.
Flight Instructing gave me the fundamental skills I needed to be a successful single-pilot. After my two years flying with Ameriflight, I applied to AMRG and during the hiring process, I learned the importance my single-pilot skills had to offer. AMRG and other air ambulance companies will only hire from single-pilot operations.
Regardless of the path a pilot chooses, be willing to relocate in order to chase opportunities as they present themselves. As you experience the hardships of the aviation industry, it will be very easy to become jaded, but I can attest that through hard work and making sound career decisions, anyone can become financially successful while pursuing their aviation goals.
*** The fact, in short, is that freedom, to be meaningful in an organized society must consist of an amalgam of hierarchy of freedoms and restraints. ~Samuel Hendel
Pilot Rhett Young always knew he wanted to fly air ambulance.