Reggie Norsworthy, commercial pilot, Comair
Reggie Norsworthy is a classic example of a pilot who has not only made a career change, but has made the most of it--and has done it smartly.
Norsworthy, 39, is a first officer with Comair, the Delta Connection carrier based in Cincinnati, and lives nearby in Florence, Kentucky. In his former life he was an insurance underwriter, a job that he describes as "incredibly boring. I hated it because it was so routine." He describes it as the movie Groundhog Day come to life.
As a youngster, Norsworthy's interest in flying was sparked by his parents. His father was an air traffic controller and a private pilot, and his mother worked for the FAA. Because he wears glasses, Norsworthy was unable to fly in the military, so he went to college, graduating with degrees in finance and risk management, which led to his insurance career. When he decided it was time for a change, he began saving money and researching his options. He eventually applied for an aviation scholarship that was co-sponsored by Delta Air Lines and the Organization of Black Airline Pilots (OBAP). The prize? His tuition and flight training at Western Michigan University were covered, leaving him on the hook for just room and board.
When Norsworthy graduated, he was hired by Comair with 300 hours of flight time and around 60 hours of multiengine time. He now has 3,500 hours of flight time and a second in command type rating for the Canadair Regional Jet. His advice to others is simple: "Get a degree, and don't let others talk you out of your dream if you know what you want. Also, look up scholarship opportunities with OBAP, Women in Aviation, and others. But most importantly, expect the unexpected--pay cuts, furloughs, changes in your upgrade plans--and be open to change."
Does he have any regrets, considering he could be making two or three times his current salary in his old job.
Without hesitation he answered, "None."
Chip Wright has been flying since 1990, has been a CFI since 1994, and is now an ATP and a Canadair Regional Jet captain for Comair. His total time is 8,000 hours.