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Second career returns pilot to her passion

’I love helping people’s dreams come true’

Ambyr Peterson is four years into her second career as a certificated flight instructor, and the Michigan native who was named the best instructor of the year in the Great Lakes region in the 2021 Flight Training Experience Awards said her reason for loving what she does might sound cliché—but it’s true.

Ambyr Peterson has been named the best instructor of the year in the Great Lakes region in the 2021 Flight Training Experience Awards. Photo courtesy of Steve Woit.

“I love helping people’s dreams come true,” Peterson said. “Every single person that walks through your door wants to be there and wants to fulfill this passion.”

Her first career, as a program manager involved with quality procurement and engineering for Israel Aerospace Industries, was aviation-related but was not a passion. Peterson had earned a private pilot certificate in high school because she wanted to become an astronaut. She flew intermittently for a few years, but she couldn’t afford to continue.

In 2015 a friend who flew for NetJets suggested Peterson get back into the cockpit, and she did. “The same passion was there,” she said. She quickly acquired the instrument rating and commercial and certificated flight instructor certificates and settled into the rhythm of flight instructing. At Inflight Pilot Training near Minneapolis, where Peterson is assistant chief flight instructor, she has gained a reputation as the CFI to see when a student has encountered a learning plateau. She also enjoys helping flight instructors excel at teaching—which does not come naturally to everyone who finds themselves flight instructing to build hours.

Her most challenging student? “An instrument student who truly isn’t getting it,” Peterson said. “There’s not a lot of creativity that you’re allowed to do with instrument flying; it is what it is, and you have to make decisions very quickly.”

Learning to fly is challenging, and Peterson said she doesn’t advise people to start training until they know they can set aside the time (as well as the money) needed. “You can’t take long breaks,” she said. “You have to be in there once a week to make it all come together.” Before you spend a lot of money, “really do some soul searching,” she advised.

“I’ve seen people spend $15,000 and not get to solo,” Peterson said. “I’m very honest. If you have two or three school-aged kids and are trying to balance your job, the kids, and everything else, you may want to wait because otherwise you’re going to get frustrated. I hate seeing people waste time and money.”

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.
Topics: You Can Fly, Flight Instructor

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