GoJet First Officer Launches Nonprofit to Expose Underprivileged Communities to Aviation Careers

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Courtland Savage is the founder of Fly for the Culture, a nonprofit organization that encourages minorities in underprivileged communities to pursue flying careers.

As Black History Month comes to a close, we’re proud to share details about Fly for the Culture, a nonprofit organization launched by GoJet First Officer Courtland Savage, which aims to inspire and expose minority students to pursue careers in aviation. Read more to learn about Fly for the Culture’s mission and how Courtland aims to impact the pilot shortage through diversity.

  1. What made you want to join the Navy and become a naval aviator?

Aviation became a passion of mine after I took my first flight at the age of 17 years old. I’ve always had a fear of flights and I wanted to conquer my fear.  In return, I fell in love with flying and knew it was exactly what I wanted to pursue a career in. I also wanted to serve my country while pursuing my dream. I graduated high school early and joined the Air Force Reserves at the age of 17. I attempted to become a Air Force Pilot initially, but the process was daunting, so I joined the Navy and started immediately.

2. When did you start your civilian flying career?

I began my civilian career at the age of 17. At the time I was working a job to help me make ends meet. When I wasn’t working I flew in my spare time. Before I enlisted in the Air Force Reserves, I received my private pilot’s certificate.

3. Tell us about your educational background. Why did you choose Embry-Riddle?

I attended an Embry-Riddle satellite campus on Charleston AFB while serving as a Crew Chief on C-17s in the Air Force Reserves.  It was convenient because I could attend classes after work and on my days off. Embry-Riddle is also considered one of the top aviation and aerospace schools in America, so I thought it would establish a strong foundation for my future as a pilot.

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Courtland joined the navy to become a military pilot. He’s now a First Officer with GoJet.
  1. What led you pick GoJet as your regional airline of choice?

On top of the stellar location options, aircraft, and routes, GoJet’s Rotor Transition Program provided me with amazing support for my transition from military flying to civilian flying. GoJet also helped me obtain the training I needed to become an airline pilot. They’re many pathways programs and the resources they offer pilots sets them apart from other regional airlines. I also enjoy how they work with my schedule regarding my commute. I live in North Carolina, so it’s a short commute from Charlotte to Raleigh, driving or flying. I also enjoy flying from coast to coast.

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Courtland pictured right with Former RDU Base Captain, Cherry Godwin.
  1. What sparked your passion to launch Fly for the Culture?

During my time in the Navy, I was usually the only minority pilot in the squadron. I know there are hundreds of young minority men and women who are interested in aviation, which ultimately inspired me to launch Fly for the Culture. I want to help them pursue opportunities they wouldn’t have thought of.

Additionally, most young minorities are not aware they can become pilots because there is limited outreach in their communities. I started spending my own money to rent small planes and take young kids flying.  It’s really amazing to watch how they react when the plane lifts off into the air.  You can see on their faces that an entirely new world has been opened-up for them. I know dozens of pilots that say they pursued aviation because someone took them flying when they were younger.  For now, I am trying to plant a seed that leads them to a fulfilling and exciting future in aviation.  Eventually, I would like to provide scholarships for flight or maintenance training and provide flight training.

  1. Who does Fly for the Culture aim to assist?

My target audience are young boys and girls from diverse cultural backgrounds, particularly from underprivileged communities.  In military and civilian aviation, minorities and women, combined, make up less than 10% of pilots.  A diverse community is a strong community and progress on this front can only truly happen with representation.  While we do not exclude anyone who is interested in participating, we are particularly interested in helping underprivileged youth by providing them with opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.  With an impending pilot shortage, a lack of diversity in the aviation industry, and too many young people with limited opportunities, we see Fly for the Culture as a single solution to many problems at once.

  1. How does Fly for the Culture bring more diversity to the aviation industry? 

We are constantly trying to expand the assistance and support we are able to provide participants. In addition to the dozens of exposure flights for people of all ages, we provide mentoring to young people interested in aviation.  We use our networks of pilots to connect people from around the country who are interested in future careers in aviation.  We are also in the process of connecting with local flight schools to partner with us and provide flight training for eligible participants.  We also would eventually like to establish scholarships to help pay for or at least supplement the high cost of flight training and provide flight training.  Someday, we would like to see an expansive network of Fly for the Culture chapters all over the country, performing outreach within their local communities and connecting people all over the world.

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Courtland poses with an aspiring aviator.
  1. What would you tell a young person who is interested in aviation?

I would tell young people their the top priority should be to focus on school and make wise choices. Learning how to fly is like any other skill. The more you practice, the better you will become. Aviation can be challenging at times and very rewarding. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. Finding the right mentor to provide opportunities and support for you to reach your goals is critical as well.

Fly for the Culture is on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the organization, visit the website here: https://bit.ly/2tIW2kz.



Dream Fulfilled: Why Captain Tyler Parham Upgraded at GoJet

Many aviators aspire to hold the role of Pilot-In-Command because it is the highest rank they can serve while flying the line. GoJet First Officers can upgrade to Captain as soon as they meet FAA minimums. Captain Tyler Parham seamlessly transitioned from First Officer to Captain after two years. Read more below to learn about Captain Parham’s upgrade experience and why he encourages GoJet First Officers to follow in his footsteps.

Tyler Parham during his time as a First Officer.
  1. How easy was the transition from First Officer to Captain for you?

Switching from the right seat to the left seat was a seamless transition, even though the training was challenging at times. Preparation plays an integral role in the training, because the more prepared you are, the better understanding you’ll gain. Becoming a Captain is a huge commitment and responsibility, which should be taken seriously. I think the best thing First Officers can do when they consider becoming a Captain is to pay close attention to the decision-making process.

  1. What has been the most exciting part about becoming a Captain?

The most exciting part about becoming a Captain is being in command of the airplane. Like most pilots, my lifelong goal in my career was always to become Captain of aircraft that I fly. I respect the responsibilities that come along with the job and take pride in providing the best customer service to each passenger on the airplane.

  1. How different is it flying in the left seat?

The main difference I noticed between flying in the left seat versus the right seat is that it’s more of a supervisory role. Maintaining the safety of everyone on the plane is one of my biggest responsibilities as a Captain. It’s my job to ensure that passengers leave with a pleasant travel experience.

Tyler poses for a candid photo during a First Officer photo shoot.
  1. What would you say to GoJet First Officers considering their upgrade?

I’d encourage them to keep in mind that your life, your First Officer and the passengers’ lives are in your hands. Take the time in the right seat to make your own decisions and compare them to your Captain’s decisions. Decide whether you would have taken that same approach or would have done something different. If you come prepared, it can be the easiest and most rewarding experience you can ever have.

  1. What are the perks and benefits to becoming a Captain?

There are many benefits that come with becoming a Captain. The most obvious would be the pay increase.  Another perk would be when my crew and I still arrive on time to our desired destination after experiencing a challenging flight. Our passengers don’t seem to notice anything different, because our customer service skills are so superb. A successful flight to your passengers is an uneventful and comfortable flight and for me, that is very rewarding.

  1. What tips would you give upgrading pilots on how to best prepare for the oral exam?

Prepare for your oral exam the same way as you do for your initial intake. In initial, we receive a PIC type rating and are already rated to the airplane.  You are required to have basic knowledge and apply it to real world situations. Instructors want to see if you have the best decision-making skills that it takes to be the Captain of your aircraft.  The oral is essentially the same, but from the vantage point of seeing the bigger picture.

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Captain Parham upgraded from First Officer to Captain in two years.
  1. What are some best practices that helped you succeed in your upgrade process?

The best advice I can give is to prepare as you would for any checking event, but more importantly, pay attention to what your Captain is doing when you are in the right seat. Ask questions and involve yourself in what is happening. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Upgrading is a challenging, but very rewarding process!

To learn more about our pilot positions, click here: https://bit.ly/2DnmlDs. Apply here: https://bit.ly/2vLYKEL.