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Meet Mel the TravelerMeet Mel the Traveler

With aviation events canceled or pushed online, more aviators are turning to social media in search of the connection, enthusiasm, and inspiration we usually get from in-person events. Cue social media stars like Mel the Traveler who are sharing their adventures in aviation and helping to fill that void virtually. 
Melvin Williams adds a multi-engine rating to his aviation repertoire. Photo courtesy of Melvin Williams.

His real-life experiences translate well to online entertainment and continue to grow in popularity as he works to inspire the next generation of diverse, aspiring pilots.

Mel the Traveler, a self-proclaimed aviation nerd whose real name is Melvin Williams, has garnered more than 18,000 followers on his Instagram page and is growing his following on YouTube as he shares his journey while also getting the attention of fellow aviators and pilot influencers.

Williams works full-time as a maintenance instructor on the Boeing 737NG with Delta Air Lines. He’s also a commercial pilot who enjoys buzzing around the Atlanta area in his Beechcraft Musketeer. He recently became a proud first-time daddy to son Ace Leonard Williams. And he's working to earn his flight instructor certificate while juggling his young family and demanding aviation goals.

His engaging, authentic content documents his everyday life and general aviation flying adventures from taking on spin training and a tailwheel endorsement to brushing up on his aerobatics and instrument skills. His adventures are even better in real life as Williams describes that he is currently, “living out his dreams,” as a GA pilot on his journey to 1,500 hours.

AOPA reached out to Williams to find out what motivates and inspires him, and where his followers can expect to see his journey take him.

  1. How did you get involved in aviation?

    I was introduced to aviation when I was really young. My aunt used to take me to JFK airport, and we would watch planes take off for hours! As I got older, I ended up going to Aviation High School in Long Island City in Queens, New York. When I graduated, I earned my A&P Certificate and that catapulted my career!

  2. What do you enjoy the most about general aviation?

    The freedom and the networking possibilities. I can wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and fly to go meet friends for breakfast at Peach State Aerodrome here in Georgia. I’ve made so many friends and connections through social media and just flying around, it’s very exciting!

  3. Can you share more about your current position and other roles you’ve held in aviation?

    I’m currently a maintenance instructor on the B737NG at Delta Air Lines. I love it! I get to teach maintenance technicians about the aircraft from nose to tail. It’s a very gratifying job and I have zero complaints! Prior to this, I was an interior technician, then got promoted to line maintenance. I also worked as a maintenance control center analyst on the B737NG and the B757. I’ve learned so much over my 13 years with this airline.

  4. What is your ultimate goal within the aviation industry?

    I struggle with this question daily. I’ve thought about becoming an airline pilot, but I’ve also considered becoming a CFI so I can pass along everything I know to the next generation of GA pilots. I’ve also considered exploring becoming an aerobatic pilot and entering competitions with the goal of performing in airshows! My goals change daily, but my main focus is to continue flying as much as I can, working toward accumulating 1,500 hours.

  5. What accomplishments are you most proud of regarding your career in aviation?

    I’m proud of grabbing the bull by the horns and earning my private pilot certificate because it gave me the passion to keep going even further! That was the spark that ignited my fire. Now I just want it all!

  6. What is it like being a social media aviation influencer?

    I don’t really think of myself as a social media influencer. I just look at it as doing what I love! Sharing my passion with others has been a blessing. Inspiring others to get out there and get involved in aviation gives me a purpose. I get multiple messages from my followers who are taking discovery flights, enrolling in flight and maintenance schools, and are just curious about the industry in general. To me that is what it’s all about, PAYING IT FORWARD!

  7. What do you enjoy most about the aviation community?

    I mostly enjoy meeting all the different personalities throughout the industry. No one is the same out there and that’s what makes it so interesting for me. Also, you can learn so much out there from some veterans with incredible stories to tell.

  8. What obstacles do you feel you’ve had to overcome within the aviation industry?

    The financial challenge was the biggest obstacle for me, as it may be for others as well. You really have to be focused and smart about all of your decisions. If flying is what you want to do, you’ll eventually figure it out. I was blessed enough to have access to some residual income from real estate investments I made in my early 20s to help soften the blow of paying for flight hours.

  9. What are your thoughts on diversity within the aviation field?

    I definitely feel that there aren’t enough people of color in this industry. I believe that is due to the lack of generational wealth and unfamiliarity with the aviation industry. That is why representation is very important to me! Some might find this hard to believe, but I still get messages from people saying, “I’ve never seen a black pilot.” That’s unfortunate considering it’s 2020! There are a lot of kids that don’t even know that becoming a pilot is a real possibility for anyone determined enough.

  10. What is your advice for anyone interested in pursuing a career in aviation?

    My advice is do it for the love of aviation and enjoy it! There is a lot to explore and appreciate out there! If you’re in a pinch financially, seek out scholarship opportunities. There is a lot of money out there that is available to passionate aviators, that many people miss out on! And take every opportunity to fly as many airplanes as you can. It’s so much fun. Flying has given me a space to be free. In those moments that I am flying, absolutely nothing matters to me except for the task at hand. It’s my escape!

Williams is a Delta Air Lines maintenance instructor on the B737NG where he trains maintenance technicians on systems from nose to tail. Photo courtesy of Melvin Williams.
Jennifer Non

Jennifer Non

Senior Manager of Media Relations and Public Affairs
AOPA Senior Manager of Media Relations and Public Affairs, Jennifer Non joined AOPA in 2017. A former traffic reporter turned media relations specialist, and native Washingtonian, she enjoys traveling and is working toward her private pilot certificate.
Topics: People, Travel, US Travel

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