One of the first and most unique from this category that I’ve met is Swayne Martin. Just this year, at the tender age of 15, he began his flight training in earnest. On his 16th birthday, he was ready to solo—the minimum legal age—if only the weather would have complied!
Undaunted (as is a survival REQUIREMENT in this brutal business!), Swayne indeed soloed a scant few days later.
One of the most remarkable things about this young man is his foresight and—dare I say—wisdom. Unsatisfied with the harshly negative attitudes he found on aviation web boards about this unforgiving career, he sought out other, more encouraging voices, such as myself and Karlene Petit at Flight to Success (http://karlenepetitt.blogspot.com/), and Brad Tate at Airline Pilot Chatter (http://airlinepilotchatter.blogspot.com/) to garner advice and encouragement. Yes, this is a brutal business, but WORTH THE SACRIFICE—for those WILLING to tough it out and take it all in stride!
But enough from me. Let’s hear, in his own words, this intrepid young man’s story. By the way, Swayne has his own blog, where he has already encouraged other future pilots, at “From Private to Professional Pilot,” at http://martinsaviation.blogspot.com/
|Future Airline Pilot—and newly-minted solo pilot—Swayne, at age 6.|
CAP’N AUX: When did you first realize you wanted to be a pilot?
SWAYNE: Ever since I was very young I’ve been surrounded by aviation. My grandfathers were the two main people who introduced me to it over the years. In November (2012) I decided I would at least take a look at what it would mean to be a pilot. I really started to think about becoming a pilot; I reached out to many people already in the profession, including you, Karlene Petitt, Brad Tate, and dozens of others for some advice, including separating fact from fiction.
CAP’N AUX: When was your first flight, and also your first lesson? How old were you?
SWAYNE: The first time I ever flew in a plane was when I was only about 3 weeks old. I flew from my home city to Tampa, Florida, to meet my grandparents. Since then, I’ve flown a little over 90 times (each leg) commercially.
I took my first flight lesson on December 28th, 2012, when I was 15 years old. I was so excited to actually get in the cockpit and begin learning how to fly.
SWAYNE: Ultimately, I hope to turn flying into some kind of a profession for myself. Whether that be cargo, commercial, corporate, private etc., I do not know. Honestly, I love everything about flying, so I plan to leave my doors open to a range of diverse flying options. (Like!—Ed😉
SWAYNE: My family has been supportive of me in nearly everything I do, which I am SO grateful for. I’ve been lucky to have grown up with a supportive group of people who are willing to “drop everything” to help me out. They know that if I am going to put my mind to something and really work at it, no one can stop me.
|Swayne preflights his baby.|
I am someone who won’t be satisfied by working behind a desk in a corporate job. I have grown up traveling, exploring, meeting new people, and seeing new things. Over the years, I have developed a real passion for all of the aspects of travel. That is something that always inspires me in aviation.
I love being at airports, seeing all of the activity, and thinking about where these thousands of people might be traveling to—all possible because of air travel.
SWAYNE: One thing I know I’ve got to do is some bush training and flying in Alaska. I went to Alaska when I was about 9 years old and was fortunate enough to go on a floatplane tour of glaciers near Juneau. From the moment I stepped on that plane, I knew one day I would fly in Alaska. It’s something that I’ve promised to myself that I will do one day, if I am able to. Until the show was cancelled, I watched a lot of Flying Wild Alaska (Discovery Channel http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/flying-wild-alaska). Even though it was dramatized, I found it really inspiring and cool to see how much those people loved and enjoyed their jobs!
SWAYNE: This is the mission statement of my blog:
SWAYNE: The best advice I have for an aspiring pilot is: create your own trail. At the beginning of my training I was really inspired by this well-known quote:
What is it that you desire? Think about what YOU want out of YOUR life and try not to let others dictate what is right or what is wrong for your future. If you want to read more about this, I wrote an article in the following link that explains what to do in the face of negativity: “Don’t let others dissuade you. (http://martinsaviation.blogspot.com/2013/01/dont-let-others-dissuade-you.html)“
SWAYNE: The biggest pitfall that I’ve noticed with pilots is that many seem to enter the career with unrealistic expectations. For many, the end goal is working towards a position with a major airline. You have to have an incredible amount of dedication to get to that point. (AND LUCK!—Editor)
It all comes down to attitude in the end. If you are willing to stick through the hardships for that dream job you can only dream about, you will succeed and find happiness in the end. You can’t expect to have good pay, at least for a long time, be at home a lot, or have a lot of financial flexibility. Not everything about flying is great of course, like any job there are parts of it that won’t be “fun.” What I’ve heard is that: If you begin to treat flying as any job, it gets a lot easier to deal with the bad days. No one wants to wake up multiple days in a row at 3am, but it just a reality of the job sometimes. Once you begin to accept these realities, the job could become a lot more enjoyable.
SWAYNE: Before I go into a little more detail, here is a short video summary of my first solo (I used a gopro camera):
My first solo flight was an incredible experience for me. When I took off I laughed to myself because I thought: “Wow, I’m up here flying this plane before I can even drive solo.” Was definitely weird to be flying solo above the roads I can’t drive solo on yet! It was a pretty cool feeling, one I won’t ever forget.
SWAYNE: That’s a really hard question for me to answer. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not sure if I have a favorite. I enjoy the experience of flying whether it be on an Airbus, Boeing, or any other brand. One thing I will say is that I really enjoyed flying on the Air France A380 over the summer, I wrote about it here: “Trip to France (http://martinsaviation.blogspot.com/2013/01/trip-to-france-2012.html)“
|Per tradition, solo pilot Swayne earns his wings—and loses the back of his shirt!|
Swayne thanked me for the interview, and added: “I really hope that some of the answers can help out another aspiring pilot, similar to myself.”
Swayne, I think you already have, and will help many more! We wish you Happy Trails in your aviation adventure!
—Swayne’s contact info:
—Related Link: A future pilot interviews Cap’n Aux
Cap’n Aux’s next Vlog (Video Blog)…
LET’S GO FOR A (SIMULATED) FLIGHT!