From Flight Instructor to Charter Pilot: A Day in the Life

Aaron Ashby is the first pilot to complete the Jet Access pilot flowthrough program. It’s been one year since he transitioned from a JA Certified Flight Instructor to a Part 135 charter pilot, so we decided to check in with him to find out what the past year has been like.

Q: What made you decide to pursue your pilot license?
A: When I was 16, I started thinking about college, and I knew I didn’t want a “desk job.” I got my professional flight degree at Purdue and then I took flight training courses in Greenwood. When I graduated from Purdue in 2020, I joined Jet Access. I love airplanes and couldn’t imagine a career in which I wouldn’t be able to touch airplanes. I was a CFI and assistant chief flight instructor with the Jet Access/Ivy Tech program before joining the Part 135 operation as a pilot.

Q: Why did you choose Part 135/charter instead of the airlines?
A: I thought about corporate flying, because I like the hands-on aspect of aircraft management, but I knew I didn’t want to be an airline pilot because you don’t have the ownership and responsibility you do with charter. Airline pilots show up, fly, land the airplane, and walk away.

Q: Where is the coolest place you’ve flown to as a charter pilot?
A: I usually fly from New York to Florida, which is a popular route. I’ve gone to cool places like the Caribbean Islands and the Bahamas too. I’ve also flown out west to Washington and Wyoming. Salt Lake City seems to be the “hot” destination lately.

Q: What do you do with your free time when you’re on trips?
A: I try to hit the beach or go for a hike. I also enjoy trying restaurants.

Q: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming an airline or Part 135 pilot?
A: I guess it depends on their personality. With the airlines, you typically know your schedule ahead of time, which some people like. As a Jet Access charter pilot, I have a 10/10 schedule (10 days on and 10 days off). I enjoy the quality of life as a Part 135 pilot.

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