How did you get started in aviation? I began flying at age 13; my parents gifted me a Discovery Flight for Christmas. At the risk of sounding cliché, after the first flight, I was hooked. I went on to solo on my sixteenth birthday. The funny thing was, my birthday was on a Sunday so the DMV wasn’t open. So on Sunday I soloed an airplane and the following day I went to get my driver’s license.
What was your biggest challenge? The financial burden of flight training and building hours. It wasn’t until after college, when I was working in finance, staring a computer all week, that I decided I wanted to turn my hobby and passion for aviation into my vocation. At that time, I was struggling just to pay my college student loans and have a little left over to live on. The time commitment and cost of flight training was daunting. I took a part-time job at a local community college and any extra time I had left was spent at the airport getting to know anyone that would be willing to let me fly with them to build free hours. In 14 months, I got my IFR, commercial, multiengine rating, and built about 500 hours. That led to my first paying aviation job…and the rest is history.
What advice do you have for students? Network. Aviation is a very small community and we’ve all shared similar struggles during training. Aviators are keen to share our passion, and we are always trying to help the next generation. Spend time at the local airport, get to know everyone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am today without the help of numerous people. Also, don’t forget to return the favor—and always stay humble.
What is your favorite aircraft? If I have to pick, a Cessna 195 and a Quest Kodiak. There is arguably no airplane more beautiful than a 195 and there is no better do-it-all airplane than a Quest Kodiak.
Where do you like to fly? The backcountry of Idaho and Utah is unparalleled in beauty, freedom, and lack of airspace congestion. In a seaplane—the Pacific Northwest and the Bahamas.
Follow Mark Brown on Instagram @worldofmark