Mike Powers, commercial pilot, Comair
Mike Powers, 27, of Toledo, Ohio, is a bit of an oddity at the regional airlines today--he has worked as both a flight instructor and flown as a "freight dog" for an FAA Part 135 operation.
Powers started flying in 1998 when he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, which he attended because it was affordable and because he wanted to stay close to home. He graduated from UC with an associate's degree in aviation technology (he would later add a bachelor's degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). The UC flight program is run in conjunction with Sporty's Academy, and after graduation, Powers became an instructor for Sporty's, where he says he "was treated great. I have nothing but good things to say about that experience."
In September 2005, he was hired by Flight Express, a well-known Part 135 cargo company with a large fleet of Cessna 210s and Beech Barons. Like almost all flying jobs, promotion depends on seniority, and it took Powers a year in the 210 to get his number for the Baron. Times have changed, he said, and upgrades are coming much faster. He flew the Baron for seven months, racking up 700 hours of real-world IFR experience--almost all of which was flown at night. In June 2007, he left Flight Express to join Comair.
Having lived in the Cincinnati area, he had "had the opportunity to meet and get to know a number of Comair pilots, and they all spoke well of the company, especially compared to the other regional carriers. Even after the pay cuts, it's a better place to be than the others." Like most Comair new hires of late, Powers had to spend some time in the John F. Kennedy International Airport base before transferring back home.
What would he say to other aspiring pilots? "Now is the time to get in. It takes less overall experience than in the past, and seniority counts." But, he says he wouldn't trade his track at all, and in the end, "I'm happy at Comair. I am not in a hurry to leave. As long as I'm flying, I'm happy!"
Who can argue with that?
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.