Success Stories

Introduce yourself:
E-175 FO Envoy Airlines, based in ORD. Previously flew UH-60A/L/M, JUH-60, UH-1H. Prior to Envoy, I was a senior research pilot for the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Standardization Pilot (SP), and Instructor Pilot (IP). Have flown Medevac in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Korea. 101st Airborne Division, Master Army Aviator, Jump and Air Assault Qualified.

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
Retired CW4, Department of the Army Civilian Instructor Pilot. Completed Private, Instrument SE, Commercial ME.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
My dad was an airline pilot so it was natural that I follow in his footsteps.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
Envoy was the first airline to look at helicopter pilots as potential First Officer Candidates. That means a lot to me that they would take the chance.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
Read up on Envoy’s website, Google, and airline interview websites.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
Worked on private thru multi in Enterprise Alabama prior to attending Coast in San Marcos, TX. Completed all my ratings and 130 PIC hours before Coast. Finished 120 PIC hours timebuilding with Coast to complete my FW training.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
All the complex systems and advanced avionics made the transition very easy to understand along with the firehose effect of academics I was used to coming from the Army.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
Start flying fixed wing earlier in my career and steadily build up hours.

What do you love about your job as an airline pilot?
Everything, no PowerPoint classes, no camo, treated as a professional from day one. Schedule is based on seniority, so there is no bias or good old boys.

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
Helicopter pilots have a unique ability to prioritize and manage many different things all at once in the cockpit. Critical decision making is done in seconds due to the low level flying and dynamic environment we fly in day and night.

Closing Statement
Helicopter pilots are a outstanding source of top quality pilots that are willing and able to become successful First Officers with any Airline. All we need is the chance.

Introduce yourself:
My name is Jake, I’m a retired army warrant officer, former OH-58. I did the first half of my careerin the Marines, second half flying for the army. I’m just starting ground school with Gojet Airlines.

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
My only aviation experience prior to the RTP road was army helicopters. Before deciding on an airline, I completed PPL, Instrument, and CSEL through an Airforce aero club using my GI bill.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
I always wanted to be an airline pilot, to be honest I’d decided against it, and planned once school prior to the release of all these amazing programs.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
Gojet set themselves apart with the culture and personality of the employees I met. I interviews with most of the airlines offering RTPs, Gojet was very unique. As far as practicality, they made my transition the easiest. They gave me money to tune build where it was cheapest and most convenient for me. I was able to complete everything while still on active duty, and they could get me started right away with ground school.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
I started the interview process a bit blindly before this thing really took off. I got some practice with a few airlines before going to the one picked.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
I did all of my training at Eglin Aero club using my GI bill. I completed my time building renting a 172 from a couple guys near Fort Polk, funded 100% by Gojet.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
More than any other experience I think my last assignment flying single pilot at a Fort Polk gave me confidence and experience. Flying regularly into class B airspace single pilot isn’t something I was comfortable doing before Polk.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
I don’t know that I’d do anything differently, I’m very satisfied. The best advice I could give is, go with the company that can get you trained and get you flying the fastest. For me, it was important to get it all done while still on active duty. If that means not getting the base you want, maybe it’s worth the sacrifice.

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
Not only do we have a wealth of knowledge, we bring something different to the table. Coolness under pressure isn’t a given, but most military pilots I’ve flown with, exhibit this pretty well.

Closing Statement
If flying makes you happy, and this looks like a career you really think would be rewarding, don’t let a pay cut, orong road of training stop you. Stick to it. Get started as soon as you can, the faster you move now, the less impact the inevitable speed bumps will have on your personal life.

Introduce yourself:
I am a CW2 in the Army with 12 years of active duty. I am currently teaching the UH-60M course at Fort Rucker. I was recently hired by PSA and will be separating from active duty in a few months to finish the Rotor Transition Program.

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
UH-60M IP/CFI/CFII with 1500 hours of total time. I also had my private pilot certificate prior to applying for the airlines.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
Initially, the biggest concern my wife and I had during the decision process was always finances. I had to somehow convince my wife that leaving the military after 12 years (and the benefits that come with it), uprooting our home (with a baby on the way), forfeiting a guaranteed job/paycheck, and taking a pay cut was somehow a good idea. All I heard at first was, “you’ve lost your **** mind!” From then, I set out with the purpose of proving to her I hadn’t. With 12 years of active duty behind me, I spent several months researching and information gathering to help me decide whether I should leave the military or apply for the airlines.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
With PSA, I will receive 100% of the fixed-wing training I need at no cost to me. The domiciles are great. The flow-through program is great. They have great benefits. And the company has one of the best reputations in the market.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
I subscribed to airlineinterviews.com to prepare for the interview. Being in the military for 12 years and knowing very little about Part 121 flying or the airlines, it was a great resource for interview preparation. I studied Jeppesen charts. I researched PSA’s website to learn about the company and also looked up PSA’s profile on Wikipedia to learn about the company’s history. Lastly, I read a book that was written specifically for airline interviews. Considering it had been well over a decade since I did my last interview, it was an awesome preparation tool as well.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
SkyWarrior and PSA have been great to work with. The program has been absolutely phenomenal so far. I started the program already having my private pilot certificate so I began my instrument training right away with a CFII. Once I met the requirements to take the check ride, SkyWarrior helped me schedule the DPE and I received my instrument rating in no time. I just started my multi-engine training and should be taking my multi-engine check ride very soon. All the instructors have been great to work with. Time-building has been a blast. Just find a partner to time-build with, schedule a plane, and go out and fly. Flying 8-12 hours a day is a very easy thing to accomplish if your back can handle it.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
I owe all of my helicopter experience to preparing me for the airlines. Fortunately, I was able to teach and to obtain my CFI/CFII (rotor) while in the Army. That allowed me to expand my knowledge immensely. Once I started my fixed-wing training, it was just a matter of transferring the procedures from a helicopter to an airplane.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
If you don’t already have them, download the Airplane Flying Handbook and the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Read through them to learn about the differences between helicopters and airplanes in regards to aerodynamics, CG, systems, handling, etc. Those books have helped me tremendously. Also, if you’re rusty on instruments, read through the Instrument Flying/Procedures Handbook. When the airlines fly, they fly instruments. And last but not least, if you have questions, ask RTAG!

What do you love about your job as an airline pilot?
N/A

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
I can only speak for military helicopter pilots. We definitely get some of the best training there is. We fly into the world’s most stressful flying environments with a very complex and advanced aircraft. It takes a very dedicated, competent, and responsible individual to do that. We are also reliable, prompt, and professional.

Closing Statement
Depending on your position, the decision to join the airlines may be a huge one. It was for me. Thankfully, the RTAG community is out there to give you concrete answers to help your decision. I probably would not have been able to justify leaving the military for the airlines if it wasn’t for the information I gained from RTAG. My piece of advice? If you’re on the fence, take advantage of RTP and get your fixed-wing training paid for. If, after a couple years you decide it’s not the right career choice, you have a stronger resume and the freedom to choose a different path.

Introduce yourself:
My name is Marc Wynn, and I recently joined Envoy Air where I am a First Officer in the E175 out of Chicago. I have a wife and 4 kids and enjoy living in the great state of Alabama!

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
I am a former Army UH60A/L/M IP and spent the last 7 years working as a contractor then a DAC at Fort Rucker teaching flight school. Prior to flying for the Army, I earned my bachelors degree in Professional Aviation at Louisiana Tech University.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
I’ve wanted to do this since I was in the 8th grade. In 2000, I decided to go for it and started taking the necessary steps to achieve this goal. 9/11 happened and my goals changed so I decided to join the Army to fly helicopters instead. Fast forward 15 years from that decision, and I’m finally back to chasing this dream.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
I decided on Envoy for a few reasons, the first being the Dallas base. My wife and I originally decided to move there, so Envoy became my conduit to the airlines. Other good reasons are the reputation of the company, being a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, the flow through program at American, the bonus, the quick upgrade, and the fact that they are the first airline to tap into this resource of helicopter pilots by developing the very first Rotor Transition Program.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
I leaned on some of my friends who had gone before me for information. The RTAG Facebook page had a great deal of good guidance, and I also studied the information on Airline Pilot Central.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
My situation is different from most since I already had all the required ratings. I was short on multi engine time and hadn’t flown an airplane for 15 years when I started. Therefore, I required an Instrument Proficiency Check and a Flight Review in a C172 first. Then, I completed my multi time building in a Piper Seminole. I was at Coast, San Marcos for only 2 weeks in order to complete my training. Weather issues are the only reason it took that long – could have been finished in just a week otherwise. After this was done, Envoy sent me to the ATP CTP course about 6 weeks later, followed by indoctrination into the company. Therefore, I was able to complete my flight training while on leave from my DAC position. Then I returned to continue flying Black Hawks until the weekend prior to ATP CTP.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
Flying UH60’s helped me tremendously in being prepared for this career – especially instrument flying. So fly instruments as MUCH AS YOU CAN! The complex automation systems in the 60M made a great baseline of experience from which to draw while learning the systems of the E175. This is a VERY different kind of flying (even the instruments) but manipulating the guidance panel and FMS was an easy transition. I have found that ATC communicates VERY differently with airline pilots, but coming from flying in extraordinarily complex environments in helicopters will definitely give us an advantage over others.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
My best advice I have is to earn your ratings while you’re still being paid, if you can afford it. That makes the time between jobs easier (shorter) to manage. As far as preparation is concerned, I recommend listening to LiveATC so the radio communication procedures are not so foreign. The training is intense and you are expected to progress at a certain rate – similar to military flight school but on a much compressed timeline. Come prepared every day, and you should be fine. You’ve already proven capable of completing demanding training.

What do you love about your job as an airline pilot?
I love traveling. My first trip on IOE sent me for a few days in Mexico, and it was a blast. The flying is fun for me and I seem to learn more every time I fly a trip. The people watching in the airport can be quite entertaining.

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
Helicopters are physically demanding aircraft that are operated in very complex environments. The pilots who fly them are very capable of flying airplanes at the major airports around the world, and we are proving this on a daily basis.

Closing Statement
If this is something you are really interested in, research, plan, and execute. It costs nothing to dream, and it costs everything not to!

Introduce yourself:
I grew up outside of Knoxville, TN on a farm where I learned the value of not just hard work but quality work. After my attempt at college failed, it seemed as though most of my life was now resigned to skills I had learned growing up in Construction and Labor trades. Eventually I grew tired of everyday life and decided to join the TN Army National Guard where I started out as an enlisted soldier and have worked my way up to Chief Warrant Officer 3 in the *almost* 12 years that I’ve been with the 1-230th. The training and life experience have afforded me many opportunities that I am immensely grateful for.

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
I have been a TN Army National Guard pilot since graduation from flight school in May 2012. I started out flying the OH-58D(R) Kiowas, as well as deployed to Afghanistan in them, before turning them in to transition to the UH-60L Blackhawk. I had 1100 hours total helicopter time when I decided to interview for an RTP.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
The DoD contract job that I had, though a great job, required 70-75% travel. That coupled with Army flying requirements meant I didn’t see my family very much. The industry pay/growth is an added bonus.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
The Knoxville (TYS) allowed me to move my family closer to the rest of my family so that my wife would have plenty of family support while I’m on a trip. Additionally, sitting reserve at the house with my family would be much easier there.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
We were provided some items to look over and indications of other topics to be familiar with. Although they’re not directly comparable, I treated it as if it were an Instrument Checkride.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
I utilized the school associated with my companies RTP which had a projected timeline of 90 days. With a few significant weather events and maintenance delays, i was able to go from 0 to 267 fixed wing hours, plus the 3 rating checkrides in 4 months and 1 day.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
The experiences gained and developed over the 7 years since my first flight gave me a solid foundation that I was comfortable building on, especially when it came to something as foreign as landing an airplane. Also, years of flying next to many different people (personality types) ensured my adaptability to non-military pilots that I work with on a regular basis.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
Well, there is an active duty post where I live that has a Flying Club where I could have gotten my airplane ratings while still retaining my previous employment. This also would have reduced my time unemployed at the RTP school.

What do you love about your job as an airline pilot?
Everything about it so far, the good and the bad. The flying is great, and challenging because it’s still new. Probably my favorite thing to do is stand at the cockpit door and tell everyone “goodbye”.

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
By civilian flying standards, military helicopter pilots come out of training as decently experienced pilots. We also overly train emergency procedures, “just in case”. While none of the current aircraft are single pilot capable, we constantly test our abilities to handle a similar workload while maintaining a safe flying environment.

Closing Statement
Anyone who knows me would confirm that I am not much of a gambler. When I first heard of the potential transition while visiting a friend stationed at Fort Drum, I brushed it off. The more I thought about it, the more I dug for information. Finally, I had to go and see for myself if I could actually have the best of both sides of the Aviation Community. In the long run, I gave up a guaranteed salary job that valued every piece of input I gave for a sliver of hope that I vould make it through training to become an airline pilot. There were times that I called my wife informing her that I would be returning to my old job because I wasnt certain that I could understand the complexities ahead. If you find yourself in those moments, stay focused on your immediate goal checking each one off the list until finally arriving at your new career. Made it here? ….good, now: stay humble, remain professional, and enjoy life!

Introduce yourself:
I’m Greg Sivers, currently flying the Embraer 145 for Envoy as a First Officer. I completed Navy ROTC and commissioned in 2004 and went through flight school in Pensacola and winged in April 2006. I was stationed at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL from 2006-2010 where I flew the SH-60B in HSL-46. While there I deployed once to the Persian Gulf on the USS Philippine Sea, and served as the squadron Safety Officer. I’ve been an Instructor Pilot at HT-18 at NAS Whiting Field since 2010. I finished my active duty commitment in 2014, and switched to the Navy Reserves and where I’m still an IP at HT-18. I applied to Envoy in November 2016 when the RTP was fully launched.

What was your aviation experience prior to going through a Rotor Transition Program?
I started in a Piper Tomahawk with 25 hours in the Navy’s Introductory Flight Screening program prior to Navy flight school. Then T-34 for primary, where I got 98 hours of fixed wing. Following that it was Advanced Helicopter training in the TH-57. I got about 600 hours in the SH-60B during my fleet tour, and then it was back to Whiting to be an IP in the TH-57. I’ve been at HT-18 Prior to getting hired by Envoy I had a little over 3000 hours, nearly all of it helo time.

Why did you decide to become an airline pilot?
My dad worked for American Airlines as a ground school instructor when I grew up. We took advantage of the travel benefits often and traveled a lot, including to Hawaii and Europe several times. Therefore I knew how great the travel benefits were as an airline employee. I often thought about working for an airline, but never figured it would be an opportunity to be a pilot, considering I’d flown helicopters in the Navy and the cost of getting the fixed wing hours would prohibit it. I’d been doing nothing but flying in the Navy Reserves for 2.5 years as my source of income, and was planning on applying to various HEMS jobs. When Envoy introduced the Rotary Transition Program, I jumped at the opportunity. It was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. Again, it wasn’t something I’d planned on since the job prospects weren’t there prior to the inception of RTP. When it became available I applied immediately because I was able to and didn’t have anything else lined up at the moment. I knew the potential possibilities later on were worth any short term hardship to get there.

What attracted you to the airline you work for?
I didn’t have a civilian job and Envoy had just started the RTP. They were the only airline offering it when I applied in November 2016 so it was a no brainer. There was no competition, therefore nothing to compare other than airline pilot vs helo pilot jobs.

How did you prepare for your airline’s interview? What was the interview experience like?
I found a Jeppesen chart review online to learn and study the differences between Jepp charts and DOD charts. I also considered answers to possible HR questions to ensure I didn’t stumble over my answers. Honestly, that was about it.

Describe your Rotor Transition Experience.
In the Navy we all start out in fixed wing and get about 100 hours, and are eligible to take the FAA’s Military Competency Exam to get the Commercial Single Engine Land and Rotorcraft Ratings, with Instrument in each. I had about 85 hours of fixed wing PIC time when I applied with Envoy. I completed RTP at Coast in San Marcos, TX, and only needed to time build and get the CMEL add on rating. I was there May 2 – August 2, 2017. It took me 1 month to complete the initial refresher Coast required, a little over 1 month to time build the 140 hours I needed, and then just shy of 1 month to complete the multi engine add on.

How has your career as a helicopter pilot prepared you for the airlines?
I’ve been an Instructor Pilot at HT-18 at NAS Whiting Field since February 2010. Students are instructed in basic VFR helicopter flying before progressing to instruments, formation, basic tactics, and NVGs. I’ve instructed in mostly instruments, NVGs, and formation, with an especially heavy focus on instruments. Most of the instrument instruction I’ve done is flying instrument approaches around the Pensacola area, which can be very busy during the day with all the Navy training aircraft in addition to the commercial airlines flying into Pensacola International. I was therefore very comfortable in the IFR environment, complying with ATC directions and talking on the radios. This helped me immensely going through training at Envoy and allowed me to focus more on learning the aircraft systems and how to fly the aircraft itself. When I actually got to flying the aircraft on IOE I was comfortable talking on the radio and flying approaches, which allowed me to focus more attention on keeping the jet stable on approaches and landing.

What would you do differently, if anything, to better prepare for an airline career transition?
I’d spend time flying and getting better and more comfortable in the IFR environment if that was an area I didn’t have much experience. The ability to plan ahead for approaches and think about how far out to configure, and ease of talking on the radios will help a lot later on. It’s one thing you can do to get ahead before training starts.

What do you love about your job as an airline pilot?
Seeing different cities and going places I’ve never been. I like to get out and explore in the cities when I’ve got the time on overnights. And the travel benefits at Envoy are unbeatable, my wife and I have already gone on several short trips to new places. We even decided to fly to St. Croix the night before when our original flights to Vermont filled up. The ability to go somewhere on a whim is something we both cherish and definitely plan to take advantage of.

Why should helicopter pilots be a preferred source of professional talent for airline hiring at regional and major airlines?
We have extensive experience with CRM, usually including multiple crewmembers other than pilots. We’ve had to work together as a team to complete missions even when personalities don’t mesh perfectly together. While the helicopters we’ve flown are obviously a much different airframes than the airliners we’ll fly, they are both very complex aircraft that require a lot of attention to operate safely and efficiently. Many of the helicopters we’ve flown are equipped with glass cockpits and sophisticated computer systems, much like the airliners. We’ve got the necessary skill set and are easy to train in the ways that the airlines need us to be trained to safely operate their aircraft.

Closing Statement
I’ve been with Envoy for nearly a year as I write this. Overall I’m very glad I made the decision to try out this new career. I have been sitting reserve for longer than I hoped and haven’t gotten as many hours this first year as I thought, but I’m still enjoying the flying and the job overall. Despite the low pay and sometimes difficult schedule early on, I’m keeping my eye on the long term goal of flying with a major. It’s also great to have the support of my wife in this endeavor, it makes the being gone from home much easier to deal with.

This page has a wealth of knowledge for those who are riding the fence about transitioning. For those who already made the transition, be ready to be supported by all of the followers to guide you through your progress! Great group to join!
– Bryan Armstrong

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