From Cabin to Cockpit – My Adventures in Flight Training #7



Hello everyone!! I am currently ONE WEEK away from my instrument checkride!!! Time is flying by, and I have been keeping myself busy! The last month has included a lot of flying, ground school, and passing my instrument and instructor instrument exams! I do not even know where to begin with this update!

After completing my private pilot checkride, I moved straight into instrument flying. I almost feel as if I am learning how to fly again. Instrument flying is so different from VFR flight rules. I now have to wear “foggles” to make sure I can only look at my flight instruments when I fly….so that means no more looking outside! I also am able to fly in the child’s, which has been a blast. I had to complete twenty hours of instrument time build before starting my instrument training. The time build was a lot of fun! I flew from DuPage to Oshkosh, WI which was somewhere I have always wanted to fly; now I just have to fly in for the air show! I also flew over part of Lake Michigan when I went from DuPage to Lansing, MI for another cross country flight. In my time build I learned how to pick up IFR clearances, how to fly solely on the flight instruments, and how to land using various instrument approaches. It is A LOT to think about while still flying an airplane.




Once I was finished with my time build, I then completed numerous flight simulator lessons. These consisted of flying different approaches, departure and arrival procedures, holding patterns, DME ARCS, and more unusual attitude flying. After completing the simulator time, I then went out for my flights where I practiced everything I learned in the simulator now in the airplane. Instrument flying is a lot of fun, but it sure is different. There is so much more to think about, and everything happens so fast! I am becoming a lot more comfortable with multitasking, and am getting better with reading approach plates while communicating with air traffic control while still trying to fly the plane.




Somewhere between all of my flying and ground school I also passed my instrument and flight instructor written exams! These two tests were extremely difficult because of the amount of questions there were to study. The exam is only sixty questions, but then there are over 1,200 questions to study from. It is a huge relief to have these exams finished! Next week will continue to be extremely busy as I prepare for my checkride. I am continuing to work hard, and am over a month ahead in my program. I am looking forward to telling you all about my instrument checkride, and what will be up next in my ATP program!!

From Cabin to Cockpit – My Adventures in Flight Training #6

I AM OFFICIALLY A PRIVATE PILOT!!!!  After days and hours of studying, I earned my private pilot license on August 15th!



I was extremely busy between my solo flight and my private pilot check ride.  After completing my solo flight, I went on to complete solo cross country flights.  I flew from DuPage, IL to Janesville, WI to Whiteside, IL and then back to DuPage.  I flew this route two times for my cross country solos.  Because the DuPage airport is located so close to O’Hare, I was flying underneath the jets that were going in to land at ORD.  The solo cross country flights were a blast, and I even was able to hear ExpressJet on the radio frequencies!  Once I completed these flights, I then moved onto my check ride preparations.  I worked on flying fundamentals such as steep turns, slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures, There were quite a few days I would arrive at the training center early in the morning and stay as late as ten o’clock at night to make sure I knew everything there was to know about the airplane’s systems, the types of airspace, weather, and anything else I could have been asked on my test.


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To say I was nervous for my check ride was a huge understatement.  My check ride was completed in Gary, Indiana.  I arrived to DuPage early in the morning to prepare a few last minute things such as getting the weather for my flight, and asking other students many last minute questions before CFI Paul Zapotoczny and I flew out for my check ride to Gary.  Once we arrived, we met my examiner (DPE) and began with the oral portion of the exam.  I thought I was prepared, but I did not realize just how much information I knew!  It was such a great feeling to know I was so well prepared for this big day. After passing the oral, I then went for the flying portion of the exam, and completed a cross country flight, stalls, steep turns, emergency procedures, and then finished with a few landings at Gary.  It was probably by far the most nervous I have ever been flying, and my legs would not stop shaking the entire flight, but I passed, and did very well!  The flight back to DuPage was much more relaxing and enjoyable as I was not nearly as nervous and much more excited!  The great day ended with a big celebration with my family.  It will be a day I remember forever!

Since earning my pilot’s license, I have been checked out to rent a plane.  My mother was the first person other than an instructor to fly with me!  I took my mom flying to Rochelle, IL for her birthday, where we had dinner and watched skydivers for the evening.  It was a lot of fun to show my mom just how much I have learned in such a short amount of time!  I can not wait to be able to take the rest of my family flying in the near future!




I still can not believe how quickly I am completing the ATP program.  I earned my private pilot’s license in two months and about a week!  I have a lot more great news to share with all of you in my upcoming blogs.  Thank you again to everyone that has been following along, and especially my family and instructors at ATP for all of your support!

My training does not stop at my private, it is now time to learn how to fly in the clouds!!

From Cabin to Cockpit – My Adventures in Flight Training #5

Eight weeks and fifty three flight hours later, I DID IT!!! I completed my first solo flight! I am so excited to share my first solo experience with all of you!



I completed my solo evaluation flight Monday, and was able to fly my first solo flight the following day.  I woke up around three in the morning for my first solo.  The winds had to be perfect; no more than ten knots of wind and no more than a five knot crosswind.

Before sending me off, my instructor Maks Surowka, and I performed three take offs and landings in the traffic pattern to make sure I was ready.  I then dropped him off, and went on my way as a student pilot first solo flight in the traffic pattern!  I do not think I have ever had more emotions going through my mind until I was lined up on the runway by myself.  I was ready to go, excited, nervous, and knew there was no going back once I took off!  Once airborne, I was not as nervous until it came time to land.  I knew I was ready for my solo flight, and was very confident in myself.  My landings were probably the best I have ever done, mainly because I knew my CFI would not be there to save them!




I was soloing in the traffic pattern for about one hour.  Once I was finished,  returned back to our parking and we were all ready to celebrate!  Later in the day, Maks cut the back of my shirt. For those unfamiliar with the ritual, the instructor cuts the back of the pilot’s shirt into a rectangle and the pilot writes their solo dates and plane number on the back.  It means you’re “free” from your instructor and on your own!  It was a very memorable day, and I am extremely proud of myself!




My week did not end there, I finished my required four hours of solo flights in the traffic pattern, and completed another cross country flight.  I now am preparing for my two solo cross country flights which I am hoping to finish in the next week.  My private pilot check ride is also quickly approaching, so I have been very busy studying and having a lot of ground school to prepare me for the big day! I am hoping to be a private pilot by mid August!

Once again, thank you to everyone for all of your positive feedback and support! I am continuing to work hard, and am rapidly making my way through my ATP program.  I am hoping my next blog entry will include my first solo cross country flight!

Stay tuned for my next adventures!!

Updated: ExpressJet announces path to United



Updated 3/15: We’re still clarifying program details for internal candidates, but we do have some additional information about how it’ll work for new hire pilots. See updates below!

On Feb. 17, ExpressJet pilots voted in contract extensions that raise first year pay to $37-40/hr. Today, we’re excited to share details of our agreement with United for a Career Pathway Program that facilitates ExpressJet’s ability to offer its United Express pilots a path to United Airlines. Compensation and career progression just got better at ExpressJet.

What is the Career Pathway Program?
ExpressJet’s agreement with United for the Career Pathway Program offers a path to United for qualified ERJ pilots, subject to the full terms and limitations of the Career Pathway Program. This program offers a flight officer position at United, pending successful completion of an interview at United and fulfilling all established criteria and program requirements.

Is this a flow?
Not exactly. For so long as ExpressJet supports United’s operations, United has committed to hiring up to 1 in 4 new hire pilots each year from program participants at ExpressJet based upon those pilots’ meeting or exceeding the established program requirements.

New: How does the program work for a new hire pilot?
To be accepted into the Career Pathway Program, new hire pilots must complete four simple steps:

  1. Interview and be hired by ExpressJet into an eligible pilot position (currently our ERJ fleet)
  2. Complete United’s personality inventory test during training, then after completing ExpressJet’s training interview with United representatives
  3. Fly with the best at ExpressJet until your United slot comes up
  4. Begin your dream job at United

Who is eligible?
All ExpressJet pilots who support, or are qualified to support, our United Express operation, are eligible. Currently, all United Express operations are supported by our ERJ fleet so ExpressJet ERJ pilots are eligible. This program complements our already-strong hiring relationship with United, and we expect to continue to see CRJ pilots hired by United into the future outside of the Career Pathway Program.

How are candidates selected to move to United?
Movement to and employment by United will be in seniority order of those who apply and are eligible for the program, and who remain in the program in good standing with all program requirements for an established period of time. We’re still finalizing details, but expect to have an open enrollment period for existing ERJ pilots.

Why do we have to complete an interview?
Both ExpressJet and United expect pilots to continually develop in their careers, and we believe that knowing you’ll interview for a position encourages self-improvement while still giving our pilots the best career progression opportunities.

Does this impact the JetBlue University and Advanced Gateway Programs?
While ExpressJet pilots will have to choose which program to pursue, the JetBlue Gateways are still available to all eligible team members.

Look for additional details in the coming weeks, and learn more about ExpressJet’s Career Development opportunities at

ExpressJet pilots ratify contract extensions; raise first year pay to $37-40/hr

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One of our guiding principles, ExpressJet is continuously working to improve our company. We strive to beat our last performance metric, to provide the best service, to be the best place to work. The desire to “win” for us isn’t for the industry accolades, but to reaffirm to our team members that their hard work is noticed and valued.

We were a great regional airline before, and today we are even better.

On Feb. 17, ExpressJet pilots voted in extensions to our existing contracts that provide an unmatched total compensation package while retaining the superior work rules that define who we are as an organization. Here are some of the highlights of the new extensions:

  • First year pay rates at $37 (CRJ200/ERJ) and $40 (CRJ700/900)
  • Per diem increased to $1.85 on date of signing and $1.90 on date of signing + 18 months
  • $1.50/hr increase for all pay rates
  • Profit sharing program that guarantees a minimum payout of $1,000 for 2016 and $1,500 for 2017

Additionally, the contract extensions add improvements to our already industry-leading work rules. The new work rules add to schedule flexibility, offer improved compensation practices and clarify contract language. More information on ExpressJet’s contract extensions can be found at

Flying with the best just got better.

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