Airline Academy Pilot Stories Training

Fabian O. Aybar Villafane: My Journey As A Certified Flight Instructor

  • Article by Fabian O. Aybar Villafane - L3Harris Trained CFI and NetJets Pilot
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read

My name is Fabian Aybar and this is my aviation story. I’m originally from Puerto Rico, a small and beautiful island in the Caribbean. After moving to Orlando in 5th grade, I decided to complete my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and kickstart my flight training.

My Training Journey

I was introduced to aviation at a young age through my uncle, Rafi. He flew ATR’s around the Caribbean for American Eagle until he gained enough experience to get hired at FedEx, where he spent the final 18 years of his career. Following my uncle’s advice, I decided to go to a flight school in Daytona Beach, FL which is coincidentally the same airport that he also started his training back in the late 1980s. It was the best decision I ever made, and I quickly progressed from Private Pilot to Muli-Engine Add-On all out of that same airport.

Afterwards I moved onto several different schools to accumulate my instructor ratings which took me from New Smyrna Beach for my CFI-I, down to Punta Gorda for my CFI, and then eventually back to Sanford for my final multi-engine instrument (MEI) rating.


The school where I earned my CFI-I lacked employment opportunities at the time, but I was fortunate to have made some connections along the way that led me to interview at the L3Harris Flight Academy. I was under a lot of pressure to get a job quickly and start building flight time, so I was thankful that L3Harris offered me the job as a CFI straight away. The Academy was a perfect fit for me even though at the time I was unfamiliar with the overall operation. The facilities and equipment available were impressive, but I’d say what I have enjoyed the most is the people I’ve met and established a connection with along the way.

What I do day-to-day has changed a lot since starting at L3Harris. In the early days, I worked with the flight training department as a CFI on the flight line primarily with private and commercial students. As I became more experienced, I had the opportunity to receive my MEI rating which opened the door to multi-engine time building, something I highly recommend any CFI do at L3Harris. When the opportunity arose, I began teaching the CFI course exclusively and after almost a year of working my way up the chain I was fortunate to be selected by the standards department to become a Check Instructor. In this role, I taught nearly every course from Private Pilot to our Atlas ATP Course in our PA-44, and also worked alongside the Standards Department conducting check events.

Accumulating flight hours and experience as a CFI is a path that very few want to take due to the nature of the job and how demanding the job can be at times both physically and mentally. In retrospect I don’t regret a single thing about becoming an instructor. Future employers do in fact value when a prospective pilot has spent most of their time teaching others how to fly. It shows that you’re adaptable and don’t shy away from a challenge, that you work well with others, and that you’ve gone to extra mile to learn more than the standard syllabus.

My Career Path

I always pictured myself as an instructor that would be very laid back but strict when necessary, easy to get along with but also good at drawing the line and establishing margins between the student and instructor. Most importantly I wanted to become an instructor that was respected by his peers, reliable, dependent, and trusted by the Academy. I’d like to think I was able to accomplish most of that during my time at L3Harris which makes me proud. Once I reached my time, I decided to follow in the footsteps of some of my peers before me and apply to NetJets, who I was fortunate enough to receive a job offer from.

L3Harris helped me tremendously during my journey and there’s a long list of individuals who are partially responsible for my success at the Academy. From building flight time, to maturing as a pilot, and establishing connections that would later open up opportunities for me. My time at L3Harris has certainly been a success overall and it’s been the most incredible adventure of my life up until this point, but I know there are many more adventures to come.

For any future pilot that is reading this: don’t forget why you started this journey in the first place. It’s not supposed to be easy, there will be times where you struggle and maybe even question if you have what it takes. The answer to that is simple, you do have what it takes but only you can tell yourself that. Stay ahead of the airplane and fly safe.

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