Airline Academy Pilot Stories

From L3Harris Flight Academy student to First Officer at Republic Airways

  • Article by Cody Helton, L3Harris Graduate
  • Published
  • Duration 5 minute read

My name is Cody and I am currently a First Officer for Republic Airways. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to become a pilot. My father was in the industry, so I was very lucky to be surround by aviation since day one. At the age of six, my parents took me to the local airport and I got to go up in a Cessna 172 for about an hour. I was hooked. Every good report card I brought home bought me an hour of flying from my parents. By the time I was ready to officially start flight training at 17 years old, I had almost twenty hours built up.

I enrolled in a small flight school at the local airport near where I lived. Still being in high school, I needed a program that was slow paced. This is known as Part 61 flight training. I successfully soloed and eventually gained my Private Pilot Certification before graduating high school. I had some decisions to make at that point. I knew I needed a more structured training program, and I knew that a Part 141 flight school would be the best fit for me. I could either go to a college that offered a four-year aviation degree program and do my flight training that way, or I could go to a dedicated flight academy and knock out all my training at once. That’s when I came across L3Harris Flight Academy. From their airline-oriented style of training to their reputation of providing quality flight instruction, L3Harris was the right place for me.

I was able to complete my flight training in a little over nine months. After I graduated from the Academy, I was offered a Flight Instructor position and immediately began working to build my flight time and reach the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) minimum to become eligible to reach the airlines. This was all done before my 19th birthday. To make myself more marketable for future airline opportunities, I decided I still wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. Luckily, L3Harris had an opportunity to take classes online at Seminole State College. I was able to transfer my credits from my flight training and apply them to my associate’s degree. While working full time as a Flight Instructor, I was able to take on a full set of online classes.

Today, I hold a Bachelor of Science in Aviation; all being done online while I worked full time at L3Harris and at my current position with Republic Airways. It was no easy task, but it allowed me to get ahead of the curve and start my dream job early. I encourage everyone who is trying to decide which route to take to think about their priorities. If having the traditional college experience is important to you, by all means, get your degree and flight training done through a university. If starting your career and getting ahead of the others is more important to you (seniority is everything in this industry), than I say schedule a meeting with L3Harris Flight Academy and get started! The industry is priming up to burst and pilots are needed more than ever right now. Best of luck with your endeavors and I hope to fly with you soon!

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