The Pilot Mentor Network
Main Menu
PMN Home
Contact Us
User Registration
Activate Membership
Members Log In
Submit A Link

PMN Forums
Mentor Profiles
Columns &Articles
Pilot Jobs
Private Pilot License

Mentors Area
Become A Mentor
Update Mentor Profile

Don Kelley
Name: Don Kelley
Company: Pinnalcle/NWAirlink
Position: Captain
Current Aircraft: CL-65
Age 55 years old
Country USA

Airline experience: yes
Corporate or fractional experience: no
Cargo experience: no
Military, government, or law enforcement experience: no

Mentor profile:
I began flying in 1981, I nor my parents could not afford it, took my first break. In 1991 I decided to go to college and pursue a degree in Aviation Systems Management (a fancy title for a pilot), this was during one of the worst times in the Airline/aviation industry. With bleak prospects and a family looking for my support, I switched majors and took my second break from my flying career. In 1998, after completing a degree and working for large corporation making a really good living, I decided that my goals were to fly! Again I gave up the job (not to the wife\'s liking) and left for Florida to pursue a Professional Pilot Career. I received my instrument rating in 1999. I received my commercial single engine land rating in 1999. I received my commercial multiengine add-on rating in 1999. I received my commercial single engine sea rating in 1999. I received my certified flight instructor, Airplane, Instrument, and multiengine in 1999. I received my ground instructor, instrument and advance in 1999 Upon completion of everything I started to flight instruct in the Long Island area, I did this for a few months before moving to Pittsburgh where I continued to instruct at flying clubs. In July 2000 I interviewed and was hired by Air MidWest Airlines in the Beech 1990D with about 1050TT and 150ME. Assigned to Philadelphia system I flew in some really good weather and in a high density environment. In March 2001 I interviewed and was hired by Piedmont Airline in the Dash 8, 100, 200, and 300. I had just over 1500TT and about 500 hours in the 1900. In July 2001 I interviewed and was hired by Express 1/ NWAirlink and now Pinnacle in the CL-65. I had just about 1650TT and 650 Turbine. Upgraded to Captain in September 04 Vice-Chair of the Contract Compliance Committee (ALPA) for DTW since Jan '05

Favorite thing about flying:
I really enjoy flying, to do this professionally you really need a \"love\" for it. Benefits are that you get paid to do something you \"love\"
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
Family is hard to deal with, if you get trips you can be out for a 1 day to 5 days. If you have little kids it is harder. Getting into this job by the civilian method takes a lot of money, time and patience.

What you would have done different:
I would have started earlier, and stayed with the career through the downturns. I also would have gone to a Part 61 school much earlier than I did. I did Part 141 for 1/2 of my training, and in hindsight it did very little to enhance my career.
Advice to aspiring pilots:
persistence... do not give up, do not get discouraged, you will have bad days, you will feel that it is insurmountable or will take too long. It is worth every sweat, tear and cent you put into it!
Problems encounterd along the way:
Choosing your initial school or flight instructor. Find a person who you can work with, find a school that will work with you. Do NOT forget YOU are the boss, YOU are paying them to get YOU to where you need to be. I have seen to many students taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous companies and instructors. Do what is BEST for you, it will not always be what they want you to do. If you have the money, pay for a little extra multiengine time. While some will say a MEI is not worth it, they are right... Rarely will a MEI pay for itself, the benefit though is the experience, you will learn a lot from the right seat. In the end, as much instrument (actual), multiengine, and different flying experience\'s you have will give you a slight edge.

Back to the Mentors Index