Posted by: Katie | May 31, 2012

Living for Adventure

At the age of 15, Jon was already striving for his goal of getting a private pilot license; later, he was able to get an instrument license, which allowed him to fly in bad weather conditions. At his current level, Jon is able to fly a multi-engine plane. After high school, he studied business at UCF and is now the account manager at Staples; while in Orlando, he even worked as an EMT for a few years. Recently, Jon proposed to his girlfriend and will be getting married soon – a big congrats to the both of them!

1. Briefly, what sort training is involved to go from private pilot to multi-engine pilot?

In terms of being a private pilot, it only requires 40 hours of flight time in the air. Given the fact I was flying at least once a week, if not more, I was able to get my private pilot license within a few months. From there, however, the requirements go up. I added on an instrument rating, which allows me to fly in bad weather, which required training wearing a “hood,” or sunglasses where you can only look down at your instruments and not out the window.

From there I flew for a while, going on trips with family, trips to the Bahamas with friends, and even doing rescue flights for dogs – taking them across the US to other rescues and adoptive families. I did this until I reached 250 total hours, which allowed me to test for my commercial rating. After obtaining this rating many flight hours later, I was able to start making money by flying! As such, I took a 4 day intensive course during which I added on a multi-engine rating, allowing me to fly larger planes. Overall, it took me about 4 years to get my final rating, each requiring their own written exam, and a flight with a FAA examiner to test your skills at each level.


2. Is this a hobby of yours or something you wish to become a full-time job?

This is more of a hobby of mine. For a while, I thought I would be a pilot as a profession; honestly, I still do think of it from time to time. It is really a great profession, and something I do love doing. However, after thinking about my life and the things I truly want, I realized being away from home for days at a time is not something I would enjoy. While I could immediately go into that job and make a lot more than I do right now, I would not get to see my fiance every day, and would be limited in the amount of time I would have for family and friends. Overall, it came down to a decision about what was important to me in life.

3. Have you had any encounters with rough weather? If so, what happened?

I have had several encounters with bad weather while flying. Most of my flying has been in a small, single engine plane with 4 seats. With a plane this size, rough weather can really make your day turn bad in a hurry! I can think of a few instances which stick out in my mind. First was while training for my instrument rating. For this, I went to an intensive 2 week course in Kissimmee during the summer. On one of my flights, my father decided to tag along. Towards the end of the flight, we were trying to get back to the airport before a storm moved in and completely knocked out all visibility. While we were on approach, we could see the rain getting closer, and moving its way down the runway closer and closer to us, coming head on. Finally, when we were about half a mile out, we hit a nasty bit of turbulence in front of the storm, sending my dad head first into the top of the airplane!  That was probably the most entertaining event.

I have flown through tropical storms, thunder storms, and just crappy days. I was even paid to fly an airplane out of Florida right ahead of a hurricane. Most of the time, it is not a big deal. We have XM weather satellite in our plane, so we are usually able to fly through storms and avoid the really bad parts, the same way the big airlines do it.

4. What difficulties have you faced with starting your flying experience at such a young age?

Overall the biggest difficulty I have experienced was my age. Since I started at 16, I was forced to wait until I was older to get my licenses due to FAA regulations. This is when I was still in high school and able to fly very often and when I wanted. Now that I am older, my biggest difficulty is time and money. I started flying before gas prices went through the roof. Right now, a gallon of aviation gas is generally in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 dollars per gallon. In addition, I am now living in Orlando and working full time. Since I work full time, am in a wonderful relationship, and want to hang out with friends, flying has taken a back seat. In today’s world, it is very expensive, but still a great escape to get away from the day to day!

 5. Could you explain the experience of sky diving? Have you gone more than once?

To me skydiving is like no other experience on Earth! Being afraid of heights, the plane ride up is usually torture (yes I know, ironic because I am a pilot!) But since I am not the one in control of the plane, and often times sitting next to an open door, I tend to freak out until we get to about 2 or 3 thousand feet. Once I do get to the door, however, i get really excited. Then, when I jump, it feels like total freedom. It gets loud quick, but I can move around and do whatever I want! Watching and hanging onto other people around me is a blast. I have several other friends who jump, so it is something I can do with friends on the weekends.

I first did a tandem jump when I was 18, and then got my license to jump on my own just last year. I do not do it very often, but love to when I can! It just feels like total freedom and a thrill at the same time. THEN followed by an abrupt stop by going from 120mph to about 30 in 2 seconds… that does hurt a little…. no matter what anyone tells you! Then comes the landing, or crashing, whatever you end up doing! Being a pilot, it does help when it comes to using the wind to help land, but it takes a lot of skill which I do not have yet! Overall, I love doing it, and plan to take my fiance with me soon! I say, everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime, afraid of heights or not!

6. What is your Scuba certification and where are your favorite places to dive?

As far as scuba goes, I have a PADI certification. I got this while on vacation with my parents in the turks and cacios when I was 15. I took a 3 day course while we were down there to learn how to scuba dive, and then was allowed to dive as much as i wanred the rest of the trip for free! I have since dived in panama, mexico, curacao, and the bahamas. Overall, the best place was the turks and cacios. They had reefs with “shelves.” you would be swimming along, and then all of a sudden the ground would drop down hundreds of feet into the black abyss! We would start to do down the wall, still in the light, and see the coral reef on this shelf with the most beautiful fish I have ever seen! The colors, the sounds, the feeling is amazing! Again, something I think everyone should experience. There is really another world under the sea which I think you can only experience by being there under the water!

7. How has your EMT job been going? Did you struggle to get a job after your graduation last summer?

Being an EMT was one of the most fun experiences I have had in my life. When I was a student at Embry-Riddle, I quickly found I did not like engineering, and joined a team of volunteer EMTs on campus. After training with them, I moved to Orlando and then attended night class to get my EMT license. I worked for a transport company in Orlando, American Ambulance, for a year, and then got a job with Florida Hospital, doing inter-facility emergency transports for another year. What a lot of people don’t know is when you dial 911, they take you to the closest hospital unless you have had some severe trauma. As such, there is a lot of time the smaller outlying hospitals are not able to take care of patients, and then have to send them to a higher level of care. It is like the hospital dialing 911 themselves! That is where we came in. We respond lights and sirens to a hospital! We pick you up, and rush you to a hospital with a higher level of care. I did this for a year, and worked with the same partner, Scott, for that entire time. I got a great friendship out of that, and got to deliver a baby on my second to last night there!

Once I got my degree from UCF this past summer, I had to start looking at what I was going to do with my life. It came down to either use my business degree, or go back to school to become a paramedic. I ended up starting to look around at business jobs, and ended up getting a job with Staples. It was quite a struggle to get a job, as I was looking at a field in which I had no experience. I had many emails sent back to me saying “sorry, you do not have any experience in business.” Thankfully, I found my job with Staples, where I work as an account manager on their Fortune 500 accounts. I have been here for about 7 months now, have started working as a mentor and training new employees and have already had a few discussions about potentially moving into management in the future. Overall, I am happy with my choice, and have started working on my MBA here in Orlando at UCF.

After everything I have done, it has been a wild ride! I have many different hobbies, which I hope to some day share with my fiance and my kids. I love to fly, scuba dive, and skydive, amongst other things. Overall, I like to do risky things even though I am a total chicken! I just like to try new things and love getting licenses 🙂 if you or anyone else have some others you think I should try let me know and i will have another task to work on!

Leave a comment anyone and everyone if you have a suggestion for adventure for Jon.



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