FFF: Karim Elsammak!

FFF Karim


Karim Peace


Next up, Karim Elsammak blogs about a subject in which he is an undisputed expert: Fun!

Karim is truly a “man of the world.” Having turned 18 just this month, Karim was born in Egypt. His family has roots in Morocco and France, and he is now a long-time resident of New York.

Brimming with personality, Karim is not only chasing his dream in the cockpit, but behind the scopes as well: recently, he’s been exploring a possible career as an Air Traffic Controller.

And good thing, too, ’cause this kid’s got the Gift of Gab!


Cap’n Karim, you have the controls!

Karim cold thumbs



Karim Elsammak

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.Confucius. And Karim.

Karim backseat

It’s Backseat Flyer Selfie time!

Aviation. I can’t imagine working in any other field and calling it “FUN!”

   Fun should come right after safety and responsibility, but it is also a must in order to really enjoy what you do, and do it correctly.

..My name is Karim Elsammak, and I am a recreational pilot living here in good ol’ New York City. I am currently a senior at Aviation Career and Technical Education High School, and my life pretty much revolves around aviation.

  I was originally born a U.S naturalized citizen in Alexandria, Egypt, because both my parents are U.S. citizens. Even so, I still have that very “grateful” foreign mentality. By that, I mean it’s my earnest desire to succeed. My old high school had a large immigrant population, and we all shared that same desire.

Living in America, we tend to take a lot for granted. But I am still very grateful.

 Sadly, I have not noticed that same “get ahead” mentality in my generation. Living in America, we tend to take a lot for granted—and that includes our education and future.

  Ever since I was a little baby guppy, I’ve always dreamt of being in that one percent of humans that soar through our skies. After countless months of persuading my parents, on June 4th, 2011, I was finally allowed to go up on my first flight lesson. Once I hopped out of the airplane, I walked over to my dad and said, “If I don’t become an airline pilot, that would be the biggest failure on my part.”
Karim ATC!  In the fall of 2011, I started freshman year at Aviation High School, and began aviation maintenance training. I quickly learned that fixing airplanes was not my cup of tea; however, it was a blast being around airplanes every day and learning more about how they fly.

  Later, I started an Air Traffic Control and Flying club at school, which helped me build my connections and further expand my knowledge.

 After the FAA’s decision to raise ATP requirements and all the regional airline horror stories that I’d heard, I became very concerned about how my future would play out as an airline pilot, so I decided to explore ATC. I was still determined to stick with aviation. After two years of visiting ATC facilities and playing virtual ATC (VATSIM), I decided Air Traffic Controller was my best bet.

The Hood boyz

Don’t mess with da Boyz in da Flight Club!

Karim Tower

Tower Controller Karim…?

  I looked into the United States Air Force, hoping to become a military air traffic controller—due to my patriotic nature, and the very nice military pension at the end of this “action-packed ride” (LOL!)

  I ran into several snags, however, so finally decided the civilian route would be best. Fortunately, I had made many connections in the FAA, and had several mentors that were guiding me. Then, the FAA started messing with their recruiting; worse, they released their new “NextGen” program. While great for airlines and passengers, it would take away from the needs—and the “FUN”—of controlling. Another big button issue: privatizing certain parts of ATC.

    That was the downfall for my ATC plans.


Back to the Future . . . & the Left Seat!

   I started looking back into the airline pilot career. I did some research and spoke to quite a few airline pilot friends. This gave me hope. I looked into mandatory pilot retirements and the famous upcoming hiring wave. Boy, was all of that a wake up call!

  I realize that obsessing about my future may have helped to shape it, but it also took away from the important things around me. If I had to do it over, I would seek a better balance. That being said, I feel fortunate to have discovered my true calling this early in life. Now, I am happy to announce that I am enrolled in ATP flight school, starting in July!

Direct Link: http://vimeo.com/117641291

  The fun and excitement of being a pilot had a lot to do with my motivation to “get ‘er done.” There really isn’t a better feeling than advancing the throttle and feeling your body shift back. Then, when you reach rotation speed and gently pull back on the yolk, the world around you shrinks and you become part of a big, flying metal bird—hence my instagram name, “iflymetalbirds.”


Meme courtesy of fellow Blog Buddy and FFF’er Swayne Martin!

I strongly believe in Confucius’s saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Meeting new people and sharing the passion for aviation is just an added bonus.

Karim How I Met Cap'n Aux

  In closing, I would like to thank both my parents for their overwhelming amount of support and love. Additionally, I would like to thank Tom Fleming from the New York TRACON for his guidance and advice. Finally, a special thanks goes out to all my aviation friends whom I consider a second family. Two of those good friends are our very own Eric Auxier and Mary Ann Laverty for all the great material that they put out for the aviation community and the crazy amount of laughter that they cause. By the way you, guys should probably lay off the jokes because I’m one laugh away from rupturing a vital organ!

Me Karim Street1

Unleashed on the Streets of New Yawk!

Good stuff, Karim! Thanks for sharing—and you’re welcome!!

Karim brings up some good points. Note that he plays hard, but he is first and foremost a hard worker. I love how he puts it: “Safety and Responsibility come before Fun.” But after that…the sky’s the limit!

Note how Karim remembers the very day—June 4, 2011—that he took his first solo. Afterwards, his first words were, “If I don’t become an airline pilot when I’m older, then that would be the biggest failure on my part.” Even at age 14, he knew it was his responsibility to succeed!

Me Karim Anthony

Karim and I whoop it up in the Big Apple with fellow Blog Buddy Anthony P!

I also like his story as an example of chasing your dreams, but being open to other options. Laser-focused on his career, he nevertheless remains grounded as he searches for the career that best matches his passion. For example, he was also not averse to exploring a possible career in mechanics, or else via the military route. For some, the military could be the only way to lead to one’s dream of an aviation career. Notice also how Karim switched from Pilot to ATC…and back to Pilot. This is not a young teen’s short attention span, this is a very focused young man determined to have a career in the field that he loves, yet being flexible to those options. As the career opportunities evolved, his dream evolved with them…

If you are hell-bent on doing ONE thing—say, piloting—you may be boxing yourself into an unnecessarily hard life.  As I’ve said here recently, a flying career is largely timing and luck. If you hit it at just the WRONG time, you will have a very hard, frustrating life. Hit it at just the RIGHT time…and you will still have a pretty tough life!

My point is, explore all aspects of your dream . . . you may be missing a golden nugget!

In closing: stay grounded, stay focused, stay grateful for those opportunities and mentors that are helping you reach your dream!

Don’t forget to post a comment below, and join me in wishing Cap’n Karim best of luck as he embarks on his new, excellent adventure!

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Other Fledgling Flyer February Posts

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FFF lands in Tanzania with

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Departing Feb. 26

FFF wraps up with

Patricia Espinosa

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on “Humility

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Departing Mar 5

Cap’n Aux joins a great new celebration in our industry . . .

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.35.07 PM

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week!

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And some time between now and then . . .

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