Here are some new Interviews for samples from class Fall 2015.
Interview of UCM Alumnus Kyle Stinebring, MS
Interview by Susan W. Njuguna, September 4, 2015
University of Central Missouri
I was assigned Kyle Stinebring, a former alumnus of the University of Central Missouri,
in order to gain insight on what lies ahead in terms of a flying career. Having been paired
based on the criteria of my interest in both the airlines and bush flying, I was pleasantly
surprised at how he has had the chance to have a taste of almost all kinds of operations,
apart from the airlines, and has amassed a lot of experience in each. We communicated
via email as that seemed the most convenient and suitable means of communication
based on our different schedules and locations.
Prior to coming to the United States, I had a very narrow view of what routes one could
follow in their flying career because of what I was exposed to in my country Kenya, I
was more than curious to see what his thoughts were on each. This could not have
happened at a better time because I am at a point where I am not sure which route to
follow due to various factors affecting my life upon graduation; factors that weigh
heavily on the decision I’ll make. I took this opportunity to gather information on who he
was and his overall outlook on how he progressed to his current job, including his
opinion on what he sees as mistakes or improvements needed in order to succeed.
Success is something I seek and is based solely on being happy in my decisions and
progression to accomplish my goals and dreams. He proved to be very helpful, sharing
his wealth of information leading to his success. Successful in the sense that he is very
satisfied and happy in where he is in his life.
Kindly provide a brief autobiography about yourself that includes your education,
qualifications, Flight hours and where you are based with regards to your current job.
I started flying when I was 15 years old back home in St. Louis, MO – I obtained
all of my ratings through commercial multi-engine at a local flight school there
by the time I graduated high school. I then attended UCM and obtained a
bachelor's degree in Flight Operations Management, and Masters degree in
Aviation Safety. I have flown for several different companies and had several
different jobs including – flight instructor, production flight test pilot, part 91
corporate pilot, charter pilot, and currently fly for Alaska Seaplanes – a part 135
air taxi company based in Juneau, Alaska. Both the charter and corporate jobs
were flying corporate jets (mostly Hawker 800XP). Here at Alaska Seaplanes I
fly many different airplanes. I primarily fly our de Havilland Beavers, all of
which are on floats, but I also fly our Cessna 206 on floats. On the wheel side I
fly the Cessna 206, 207, and Piper Navajo. Currently I have about 4,000 hours. I
live here in Juneau, AK and plan to be here for the foreseeable future.
What sparked your interest into aviation?
“My father was a pilot, and my mother was a flight attendant. So I just grew up around
aviation and have always had an interest in being a pilot.”
Did you ever have a fall back on plan in the event that flying did not play out as you had
planned? Did you have other interests?
I have thought about this many times, but to this day I do not have a solid backup
plan. I would probably remain here in Alaska and take either an aviation
management position, or get out of aviation all together and find something else
fun to do. However, I do not know what that would be.
What do you think was the hardest part of your training and how did you overcome it?
Training to become a pilot is a very long road for most people. I found that for
me, just keeping that end goal in sight and working towards what I wanted always
helped me overcome any obstacles I encountered. Most importantly – enjoy the
journey along the way as well!
Describe your most memorable aviation learning experience.
I've had many of these in my career, however, if I had to pick just one, I would say
it was my initial introduction to learning to fly up here in Southeast Alaska. Not
necessarily one day in particular, just as a whole. The weather up here gets to be
downright horrible at times for days on end, and the terrain is very unforgiving.
Typically you're flying an airplane at gross weight in either high wind conditions,
or low visibility conditions. It quickly teaches you the limits of what you can and
cannot do, and how important it is to respect those limits at all times.
What attributes, in your opinion, do you think a pilot in training or even in the real world
job situation should strive to have in order to succeed?
My short list of things I would look for in a pilot candidate would include –
leadership skills, independent, very calm and relaxed personality (typically these
people handle stressful situations better), and a hard worker. These skills would
most definitely transfer to other jobs as well, but I see them as essential to being a
What common mistake, in your opinion, do you think pilots fresh from school make?
What would be your recommendations?
Typically pilots fresh out of school haven't experienced much in the way of real
world aviation – this does not make them bad pilots, just simply that they haven't
had much exposure yet. In the real world, flying doesn't consist of maneuvers and
practice approaches. As a green pilot, it is doubly important to know and respect
your limitations. As you gain experience and are exposed to more stressful
situations in the flying world, your confidence will also build. At the end of the
day, I always remind myself that the only reason we do this is money – I make
money, and the company makes money. Sure, I love what I do. But I wouldn't do
it if I didn't get paid. Thus, it's simply not worth it to push the boundaries past
limitations to try to make a few extra dollars.
If given a chance to go back to your training days, would you go about it differently? If
Overall, no. I had 2 or 3 different instructors and learned valuable skills from
each of them. The most important skill that any pilot needs to develop through
experience is judgment. If this is emphasized from day one, then, in my opinion,
the training that follows is probably going to be good quality training.
Kindly describe how your typical day on the job plays out.
My typical day is to work from approximately 7 am to 7 pm, usually flying around
6 hours up to a maximum of 8 in a 24-hour period. Sometimes I will fly one
aircraft type, sometimes I will fly several. But in general as an air taxi pilot, you
just fly to the outstations on each leg, and then back to Juneau. It truly is like
being a taxi driver in an airplane. We fly people, mail, and freight. So usually I
will fly about 10 legs per day – on wheels maybe a few more, on floats maybe a
couple less. Although we will fly charters to anywhere in Southeast Alaska, we
typically don't go further than 100 miles away from Juneau on scheduled flights.
Not only do I fly the airplane, but I also fuel the airplane, load the freight, brief
the people, and whatever else may need to be done that day like washing the
What do you find most fulfilling about you job?
The view! There is no better place on earth to catch some of the most incredible
views than Southeast Alaska on the occasional sunny day! However, the flying
itself is just downright fun too – mountains, water, good pilots, good people, etc.
How important is a college degree in this industry
Where I am in Alaska, it's really not important at all. However, having at least a
bachelor's degree is very important for almost every other pilot job I know of in
the lower 48. It is viewed by most as the entry fee into the industry for the higher
What was your lowest moment/ frustration with the job/industry and how did you
At times, working very long hours (14 hour days) for mediocre pay can start to
wear you down. It's not always as glamorous as it seems, especially if you're
working for tough management. However, the great days completely balance this
out at a good company and make the job totally worth it. The key is finding the
right company to work for with good management that will always support you
and stand behind you in your decisions.
I am embarking on achieving my life goal of becoming a pilot, years after getting my
Diploma in avionics and a few years of working experience under my belt. I at times feel
I may be too ‘old’ to be starting out with this career change. Have you seen this before in
your experience out in the field? How is this factored in when getting into the real world
and what standards, in your opinion, do you think would they expect of me?
I have seen people start into the aviation industry at 15 years old, and 55 years
old. For those that simply want to be an airline pilot, the longer they spend with
one company, the more money they will eventually make. However, I don't think
it's ever too late to give aviation a shot. While it is not without it's challenges, it
is a very fun and fulfilling career! There are many better paying jobs out there,
but I wouldn't trade what I have for the world, it's just that much fun! I say do
whatever makes you happy and give it a shot!
On a light note, besides aviation, what are your hobbies?
I love to do anything outside on my days off – climb mountains, go fishing, hiking,
snowboarding, camping with friends, disc golf, going to the beach to swim in our
cold Alaskan waters, traveling to other villages around Southeast – the
possibilities are endless!
Kyle Stinebring was able to paint a candid picture of his day-to-day duties as a taxi pilot
but what stood out the most was the fact that he was very happy with where he was. He
showed that he also went through the stage of trying to figure out what route to take upon
entering the job market as a pilot and he didn’t get to reach to where he is without having
dabbled through different jobs that used his flying skills. He pointed out traits that are
needed in the industry to help one succeed and as an individual, with the main one being
the development of proper judgment. Proper judgment of what is right or wrong is a trait
that is invaluable to a pilot while flying, but is also applicable in making decisions about
the route one should when it comes to a flying career when combined with discernment.
Most do get to fly for as their career, but for some the job they get may rob them of their
love of flight and make it just a job. That is a fear I have and a fear I believe many should
have because the love of flight is what got us into this industry and should remain as the
glue that makes us stay in it. Only then will one be able to exercise their duties as a pilot
to the best of their abilities and at the same time continue finding passion in it. He is a
prime example of this and I admire him for that. I only hope to find my niche in this
industry as he has.
Stinebring, K. (2015, September 04). Interview of UCM Alumnus Kyle Stinebring, MS.
(S. W. Njuguna, Interviewer)
Sample # 2
Interview of UCM Aviation Alum Nick Decker
INTERVIEW OF NICK DECKER
Interview by Jordan Harbour September 23, 2015
For my pilot interview I was assigned Nick Decker. Nick is an A-10 pilot in the Air Force reserve and recently joined United Airlines as an Airbus 319/320 pilot. Nick has also worked other jobs in the aviation field such as flight instructor. He also worked as a dispatcher and as line service while at UCM. Nick only recently joined the airlines but he still has great insight into the world of professional commercial aviation. With his recent entry into the airline world he will be able to give information on the hiring process and what airlines are looking for in newly hired pilots. His knowledge of the military, flight instructing, airlines, as well as the other ground positions gives him a wealth of knowledge that would be helpful for any aspiring professional pilot. The interview was done through email because it was the easiest way to communicate and fit Nick’s busy schedule.
Growing up how were you exposed to aviation?
I was born and raised in Sedalia, Missouri. I was exposed to aviation at an early age. Growing up my Father and I would build model aircraft and travel around to see airshows. I was also inspired, especially to join the military, by my Uncle who flew C-141s, my Great-Uncle who flew C-47s and A-26s, and my cousin who flew in the Navy and for Delta. Hearing their stories growing up really put the idea in my head to become a pilot. During high school I really began to take the first steps towards an aviation career. The idea of sitting in an office never
appealed to me. I liked being out and about. I first soloed at 16 but was unable to finish my private until I got to UCM and received some financial help. During my senior year at Smith Cotton High School I would drive over to UCM to attend the private ground school. My instructor for the ground school was Lem Shattick, who still calls me Nicholas to this day. Looking back at my senior year there is not a single change I would make. I had a great time at UCM I enjoyed flight instruction, working dispatch and line service. Attending UCM was an easy decision for me. It was close to home, affordable, and I could fly.
What were some of the things you enjoyed about UCM?
At UCM I became very involved in all kinds of activities and student groups. While at UCM I worked dispatch. It was really enjoyable because it allowed me to get to know a lot of people in the department. I also enjoyed the tight knit community inside the department and aviation in general. I would say the department was medium sized maybe a couple hundred students. It was a very tight knit group especially among my group of friends. I was also a part of Alpha Eta Rho and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. I had a group of about twelve really close friends and we were always hanging out. Some of times with Alpha Eta Rho we would rent a bus and go to hockey games. We also had an annual bonfire that was awesome. Most of us hung out all the time anyways. I still stay in touch with those guys and we talk often. One of my best memories is going cross country with a group of friends in five 150s and getting dinner somewhere. I got to fly a lot of different airplanes while at UCM including Cessna 150, 152, and 172s, Beechcraft Duchess and Baron, the King Air, and the Katana. My favorite instructor was Bill Runyon of course! I never had a negative experience with an instructor I learned so much.
What about UCM prepared you for your career?
The best part about UCM is the great ground instruction and the great flight instruction. I always had great interaction with the faculty. Every person you meet has something that can make you successful as a pilot. The ground schools that teach you how stuff works like the way landing gear and hydraulics and so forth work are very good. Do not get caught up in a specific aircraft just learn how those systems work. UCM does a good job of preparing you for a career in aviation, all my friends are now with the airlines, Air Force, or major corporations. None of them have ever had a problem getting through any training
Can you talk some about your career and what you’ve learned?
Get your CFI as fast as possible. That way you get payed to fly. Not only do you gain hours but it makes you a great pilot. I always learn the most by instructing. It took me awhile to get my start. I had given on up on flying in the military, but my buddy Chad was a bartender on base. One day two A-10 guys came in and started asking him questions. He told them that he was applying for Air Force active duty. They asked why, and proceeded to tell him to come out to the squadron and rush. So we did and now we both fly Hawgs. I rushed the squadron for two years before getting hired and sent to pilot training. One time during training I had an engine malfunction, not a total failure, in a T-38. Those are fun because approach speed is one hundred and sixty knots. I love flying A-10s. Close Air Support is never the same mission. Friendlies and the enemy are always moving and stuff is always changing. To sit up and the air and figure
it out can be challenging. I had always wanted to fly in the Air Force. My Uncles who flew in the military really inspired me to fly in the military. Flying fighters is a lot of fun, however you don’t get a lot of time each year. In the military flying is not your only job. I am the scheduler which means I schedule all the pilots to fly. It’s an office job that lets me fly some on the side. Also if you want to fly in the military you don’t always have a lot of say in your job. It isn’t all flying jets you may end up with a “real job”. It took me awhile to get an airline job. In now fly Airbus 319s and320s for United Airlines. When I first started in aviation I wanted to be wealthy and sit on the beach. I always assumed I would go to the airlines. I kind of just fell into the military gig. I am new at United Airlines. The hiring process was not that bad. There was an online personality test with no answer key. If you are not totally crazy they let you fly out to Denver. I had to do a sim ride and then an actual interview with Human Resources and a Capitan. Everyone is very nice. Most of the time you spend talking about stories from your life, not bad. So far I have had a great time. It is totally different from military flying, but I enjoy going places and seeing the country. I fly to all over the US and big cities in Canada and Mexico. Now that I am not slamming the jet every time on landing I am enjoying it better. The Airbus is super awesome really pilot friendly. It will do almost everything. Pilots are just managing the systems most of the time, but so far everyone clicks the autopilot off for landing. Right now I work ten days a month at the airline most non-military do fifteen to eighteen. I spend ten to twelve at the squadron. The biggest difference between the two is not going upside down or dropping bombs. At the airlines you spend 90% of your brainbites going from the gate to takeoff and cruise altitude back to your gate. Flying the Hawg I spend five seconds on that stuff. I am too busy processing target, threats, and friendly situation to care about takeoff or
landing those are a given. I really enjoy having two part time jobs when I get tired of one I go to the other. Pilots are generally treated well by the airline. There will always be people you don’t like though. With the new regulations I think regional airlines will definitely have to change the way that they do business. It will be very tough for them to find new pilots with the new time requirements. One of my favorite things about flying professionally is getting to see new places and settings. Helping people out is also great. Looking back I would absolutely do all of this over again. I wouldn’t even think twice about it. There have been difficult periods but it always seemed like “welp, just get through this so I can do that.” I guess everything was part of a process and never seemed like a “job or work”. One area of aviation I might get involved in is Safety. I enjoy giving safety briefings. Once things settle down I will get involved with safety. Like the ones at the UCM safety stand downs.
Do you still get to fly GA very much?
I love GA flying. I have flown the Baron a couple of times. The problem is I have nowhere to go.
Nick Decker is the perfect example of what a UCM Aviation alumni can become. His insight into the industry has been a valuable learning experience for me. Something I have really learned from the interview is to never give up in this field. You never know who may walk through the door of the bar next and where they may take you. I know that his insights will give
me a leg up in my career. From his humble start as a senior in High School going the extra mile to flying the heavy iron with United Airlines he has truly made it in aviation.
Decker, J. (2015 09). Interview by J Harbour. Aviation interview.