Can you introduce yourself and your background in aviation?
My name is Matt Midthun, I'm 28 years old, and I am a commercial-rated pilot and flight instructor. Aviation is actually fairly new to me. I had never flown a plane until May of 2019.
Can you remember the first time you were interested in becoming a pilot?
My Grandfather was a pilot but I never really considered a career in aviation until I worked as a Passenger Service Agent for Delta in college. It was a pretty sweet gig. I helped distressed passengers in the airport and in turn, was given flight benefits that allowed me to hop on empty flights all over the world. I'd cut class on a Friday afternoon and be in Paris Saturday morning.
How long have you been flying?
I have been flying since May of 2019
How has training for and becoming a pilot tested your resilience? Was there ever a moment you felt like giving up?
Within 9 months I went from having never flown an airplane to instructing others how to fly - totally insane if you think about it! Every single step of learning to fly feels impossible. It's loud, nauseating, sweaty (in the summer), and cramped. I remember calling my mother after my first week of lessons and telling her I would never be able to land. But like any new skill, it all comes with practice and a good teacher.
Like most industries, the pilot market has been totally devastated by COVID-19. There really is no way of knowing when things will pick back up so I am currently working at a restaurant, delivering groceries, and other odd jobs just to make ends meet. It's a depressing time and there are many days I feel like giving up and pursuing a more stable career.
Have you had the chance to explore new places with your pilots licenses?
One of the best parts about flying is doing cross-country trips (in general aviation this simply means flying a distance of over 50 Nautical miles). I am new to the south so I have gotten to fly to some incredible places I hadn't been to before such as Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, and Nashville. It's an unparalleled feeling to be able to fly yourself somewhere you've never been before. You spend all this time learning the aircraft and how to navigate but there's still a part of you that doubts it will all come together. When you get there you feel like a total badass. Damn! I just flew here!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a pilot?
I highly encourage everyone to start with a discovery flight. You can pretty much go to any local airport and find someone to take you up for an hour and let you take the controls. It's exciting and overwhelming but it gives you the real context of what it will look and feel like to become a pilot. If you enjoy it and really want to make a career out of it - I would encourage selecting a full-time program and immerse yourself in it entirely.