Date: 22 August 2018
Hello my name is Maria, I am 26 years old and I am a First Officer at Aeromexico Connect based out of Mexico City. I trained at what is now L3 Airline Academy with the Commercial Pilot Track and graduated in 2012. My education and career has benefitted my family and me greatly. I am in, what I think is, the best Mexican airline with the best work environment benefits, and I am a good professional pilot. My career goal is to fly the 787 for Aeromexico to any city in Europe or Japan.
I have two uncles that have worked at Aeromexico for some time and when I was young I had the opportunity to fly home with one of them on a long flight back from Paris. During our flight, my uncle invited me into the cabin; sitting up there was one of the best feelings in the world. I never saw myself as an office job kind of person, so after that experience my interest in becoming a pilot grew. After some time, I began looking for schools in Mexico and the US. My friend Saul recommended the Academy in Orlando, and the rest is history.
I chose the Academy because I found it was the most professional and airline oriented flight school. I realized that it would give me all the tools I would need to make it easy for me to go back home and get a job at an airline. The quality of training that the school provided meant that I would not struggle through the transition to an airline, since the Academy’s standards are even with the airlines. I felt like the school would make me the most professional pilot possible - and it did. Also, learning in English and being able to understand and communicate in aviation English was a great advantage for me.
My favorite part about being at the Academy is that you get to live/breath/eat aviation all the time and if you need support you have all the resources and people there to help you. You have access to the computers, the CBT, the learning resource center, many instructors (or students) who are more than willing to take some time to help you understand something, the maintenance staff, the people in dispatch, the bus drivers, and all the other staff who are amazing. It’s pretty much like a giant family, all there to help you reach your goals. At the Academy I made friends from all around the world; I met a lot of people and learned about their culture and their way of seeing life.
For my first solo flight, I was able to fly from Sanford, FL to Valdosta, GA in what was the longest solo flight in the academy at that point. It was an amazing experience to go that far on my own and there was this moment that I enjoyed the most where the plane was half in Florida and half in Georgia - in a way I as in two states at the same time for the first time. Flying alone was terrifying and exciting at the same time. I knew I was capable and ready for it; otherwise they wouldn’t let me do it. I still remember talking to myself and having my instructor’s voice in my mind – hearing exactly what he would be saying to me if he was there.
My most memorable flight so far was while I was at the Academy. I was with a friend of mine, Manolo Calderon, who was an Academy instructor at the time. It was Manolo’s last flight as an instructor and we decided to fly to Florida’s west coast and back. At the time, I was taking a break from aviation and was not planning on coming back, but in that flight I fell in love with aviation again. On our way back to Sanford we got to fly near Lake Jessup, where my favorite bridge is. The sun was setting over the lake beautifully, with all the orange, red, and pink colors you can imagine reflecting off the water; it was one of the most breathtaking moments in my life. It was in that very moment that I decided to go back to aviation - and here I am now working with that same friend, in the same airline, fulfilling our dreams together.
Before you begin dedicating your life to this profession, be sure it is what you want. Aviation is not an easy career and it requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of time studying, and non-typical office schedules. But if it’s what you really want, you won’t ever regret it. You will get to have the best and most wonderful office in the world, the view is amazing, no day is ever the same, you get to travel all around the world, and being 30,000 feet above the ground is one of the best feelings ever.
The advice I would give to someone looking to be a pilot at L3 is this:
1. First, study and take advantage of every opportunity that you will have. You will learn flying from the best in this academy, and also on a personal level you will meet people from all over the world, so be open to learn from other cultures and about other’s values as well. Study as much as you can on the ground so you can take advantage of every minute in the air. Do some chair flying, go to the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and find some Certified Flight Instructor/ CFI students that can help you if you’re struggling. Do everything you can to be ready and to meet the standards that the Academy expects.
2. Second, start developing your professionalism and study habits. The academy has great high standards that will help you in your transition to the airline, so start thinking of what kind of pilot you want to be when you get to the airline and start preparing for what you need to do to get there. Be respectful, study hard, be humble, don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know but I can look it up”. The academy will help you but you also have to be willing to do all the hard work, and do your best.
3. Third, have fun and enjoy your experience. You won’t ever be a private pilot student again in your life - you only get one first solo so enjoy every flight you have and have some fun with your friends. The academy arranges some field trips to different Disney parks or sports games so you can meet new people and enjoy your time there.
– Maria Diaz