If my life had been recorded on Tivo and I could hit the rewind button back to the mid-70's, I can assure you I would pursue a career track that led straight to the left seat of the 767 I am riding in as I write this from FL370 over one of the square states on my way to EAA Airventure. Instead of the convoluted and unconventional routing I took to get to the left seat of my own aviation ad agency, I would have enrolled in my Dream School, Embry-Riddle in Prescott, AZ.
I have always known ERAU to be THE place to get an aviation-related education, but I did not know precisely why. So recently, I found Kristine, a 22-year-old senior at ERAU on Twitter, and she was gracious enough to provide very thorough answers to my questions about her school. Her material is presented here in two parts. In part one below, we find out what path Kristine took to get to ERAU, and look at what this sort of education costs. In part two, we'll discover just what she aims to do with her career once she graduates.
World of Flying: Give my readers a background on you, pilot license held, ratings, hours and types of planes flown.
Kristine: I hold a commercial ASEL pilot certificate with an instrument rating, and I'm currently working on the AMEL add-on to the commercial certificate. I have just about 200 hours of total time, and most of that time has been spent flying Cessnas. I obtained my private certificate on 12/31/07 in Sacramento before transferring to ERAU, and did all of my training in a Cessna 152. At ERAU, I did my instrument training in a G-1000 Cessna 172 and my commercial training in a Cessna 182 RG. Right now, I'm flying the Piper Seminole twin for the multi add-on.
World of Flying: Describe how you fell in love with aviation.
Kristine: I grew up flying with my dad, who holds a commercial ASEL pilot certificate and airplanes have always been a part of my life. My family went to lots of fly-ins and I just have a lot of memories being around airplanes growing up. When it came time to decide what type of career I wanted to pursue, it was natural for me to lean towards aviation. It has always fascinated me and it's something that I'm really passionate about. I can't imagine not being around airplanes. It's also somewhat unusual for girls to be interested in airplanes, and I enjoy being different. In elementary school, I always thought I was the coolest kid around because my daddy had an airplane. If I was having a bad day or people were picking on me or something, I'd just think to myself, "whatever, my dad has an airplane and yours doesn't!" I always told my friends and teachers that I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up, but I don't think they ever took me seriously. If only they knew what I'm doing now!
World of Flying: Why did you choose ERAU?
Kristine: I chose ERAU for several reasons. The biggest reason is the reputation in the aviation industry. It really is a top-notch school that prepares students for whatever career they want to pursue. From the start, the flight training puts an emphasis on crew resource management and prepares students to operate in an airline cockpit. In my experience, the flight instructors have all been very professional and passionate about flying. The school is very structured and uses standard operating procedures, online flight scheduling, and really stresses proper checklist usage and visual "flow" patterns for completing them.
Another reason for choosing ERAU is the connections that professors have to the industry. I've had professors that are retired United captains, accident investigators, airport managers, and one who maintains the FAA's bird strike database. For the most part they have very close ties and connections within the industry, and they are really there to help students get a job when they graduate or an internship during the summer. The school hosts a pretty large job fair every fall, which gives us the opportunity to network with potential employers and other members of the industry. I also liked the fact that everyone at the school has a similar passion. There aren't very many schools where you can walk across campus and hear people talking about where they flew the day before! And, I’m no longer the only person that looks up when a plane flies overhead.
World of Flying: What will your education cost at ERAU, and how is that being financed?
Kristine: While ERAU is certainly not the cheapest option for a college education, in my experience they have been very helpful and generous with financial aid. I will say that tuition is about $13,000 per semester. Since transferring here, I have received about $7,000 to $8,000 per semester in scholarships and grants through the school, which do not have to be repaid. I also take out about $4,300 in subsidized loans per semester that accrue no interest while I'm still in school, and have to start being repaid within 6 months of graduation. I have also received a total of $11,500 in external scholarships (through The Brier Foundation, the Aviation Distributors and Manufacturers Association, the Arizona Business Aviation Association, and Boeing).
Of course, flight training also takes out a huge chunk of money, on top of tuition. The 172 rents for about $160 an hour wet, the 182RG is about $180 an hour, and the Seminole is about $250 an hour. Then of course you have to pay for the time with the instructor. There are ways to save money with these expenses too, though. In the summer, the school has been offering a 10% discount on flight training, and if students tell their instructors that they want to be scheduled as often as possible, that will help too. If you study hard, the flight courses can be completed in the minimum hours required. I am very, very fortunate and thankful that my parents have helped me finance my education and flight training at this school, because I would not be here without them. They have made sacrifices for me, and I hope someday I can repay them. However, a lot of people attend here with no help from family members, and loans are available. The financial aid office is usually very helpful and really wants to help students finance their education.
Stay tuned for part 2...