From Flight Instructor to Flying Jets

Airlines, How to Become a Pilot


Recently one of our former flight instructors came back to the Academy for a visit. This was a great opportunity to ask him some questions; what is the training at the regionals like? Is it a big step going from instructing to a regional jet? Read on and find out!


Our instructor turned jet-pilot Justin

Justin was an instructor at our school for 1 ½ years, besides instructing he also towed banners and flew almost everyday. Going from 250 hours to 1500 hours in a year and a half, that’s a whole lot of flying. Every month Justin clocked in about 90 hours.

What was your favorite thing about instructing?; “Teaching the students, I always had a passion for teaching. The best thing about it was teaching a new pilot from scratch, and after that solo seeing them develop as a pilot and making their own decisions. Those transitions were rewarding.”

“The fact that when you walk through the airport with your uniform on, and you know your going to fly a plane and carry people from point A to B. It’s rewarding.”

Even though Justin loved instructing he sometimes did experience pressure; “A lot of people don’t take their work home with them, I sometimes did. Sometimes students have a certain amount of funds, or had to get done by this time or get out of the country by this time. Basically things like that”.

The big question on a lot of pilot’s minds is the transition from instructing to flying a regional jet. How is that transition? Is it doable? It is a big step from flying cessna’s with an approach speed of 64 knots to a regional? “I would say it’s doable, because many people do do it. Unless you’ve been in a jet before you don’t know how it flies, how it handles and what to expect.” How does this transition to the actual training? “When you start your training you realize there is a lot of redundancy to get from point A to point B. Then you realize; all the basic training you get from private pilot license to commercial. It all comes to play. Layer that on top of high altitude dynamics and turbo-engines. The industry knows how to get you from point A to point B and up to standards. The more prepared you are beforehand the better”.

What was the hardest thing during your conversion from instructor to jets? “Learning automation, it’s the worst thing in the world. It makes your life that much easier, but when the stress level gets high automation should come down. Automation and descent planning are one of the hardest things to understand, for me.“


Justin’s office; an Embraer-175

What is your favorite thing about being a regional jet pilot now? “The fact that when you walk through the airport with your uniform on, and you know your going to fly a plane and carry people from point A to B. It’s rewarding,There’s an added respect with a uniform when you walk through the airport. That’s just great.

Any other tips for other flight instructors who are almost heading to the regionals? “Be prepared, be more prepared then you should be. Things like what’s coffin corner, high altitude aerodynamics and stuff like that. All the basics come into play.”

Even though Justin is living the high-life right now, there are some things he misses from instructing, “Teaching and seeing the wonder on a students face. When a student is in a lesson and he doesn’t do a maneuver properly, then I’d do it for him give instructions and then they’d nail it, that’s a great feeling.”

Thanks for your time Justin! Did you like the interview? Or do you have more questions for Justin? Feel free to write them in the comments below!