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Myriam Lucke
Name: Myriam Lucke
Company: Chicago Express Airlines/ATA Connection
Position: Captain
Current Aircraft: Saab 340
Age N/A
Country USA

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

Mentor profile:
My name is Myriam, and I am a Captain for Chicago Express Airlines, the ATA Connection our of Midway Airport. I was a "late-bloomer" to aviation, having been born and raised in Europe where General Aviation is pretty much non-existent. I came to the United States at thirteen and after High School went to College to pursue my passion for education. So I became a History teacher. One of my roommates was a Flight Instructor, and one evening he took me for an airplane ride following the lakeshore of downtown Chicago; and that is where the flying bug caught me. I started my Private Pilot Certificate with him on a very limited basis. At the same time, I had some interaction with the employees of Southwest Airlines, and became interested in the Company. After College I sent out over 250 resumes for a teaching position for approximately two years, but could not even get an interview. Then one summer I went on a trip with a friend to Arizona, and flew back on Southwest. On the way back I sat with a Southwest Pilot and he encouraged me to continue with my Certificates and Ratings to become a Professional Pilot. I went back the next day to my roommate (and flight instructor) and told him of my plans to continue "all the way." Within a year I had all my Certificates and Ratings, I flight instructed for another year and was hired by Chicago Express Airlines a year after that as a First Officer. Like many people out there, I did not come from a "wealthy" family. I received all my Certificates and Ratings from a local FBO, and financed it as I went. I took out some loans, put some flying on credit cards and mostly just worked full and part time as I proceeded through the training. Since I did not go to an Academy, I have a pretty good handle on how to get the training you need at a reduced cost. And because I did not have any contacts at airlines, I also know how to go about sending out resumes without having someone "walk it in." Now I am a Captain for Chicago Express Airlines in the Saab 340 and loving flying an airplane around everyday.

Favorite thing about flying:
Flying the airplane; handling the machine and making it do what I intend for it to do. All the challenges that flying in year-round weather holds. The people I work with and the amazing sights you can see on a daily basis from the air. I love the fact that no two days are the same, even if you are going in and out of the same places. And I especially love the autonomy that being an airline pilot presents.
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
The disadvantages to being an airline pilot? Hotel shower heads and towels (Downy anyone?) :-) Also the instability of the industry as a whole.

What you would have done different:
I would have tried to find a mentor so I didn't "waste" so much money on non-essential hours. Don't get me wrong, any flight time is valuable experience, but looking back I wish I had known somebody who could have helped me focus on the things that were very important to know so that my money could have been well spent.
Advice to aspiring pilots:
You have to love this profession to be in it; you can not do this job if you don't truly love everything that comes with it.
Problems encounterd along the way:
My biggest problem was securing the financial means to complete flight training. Research is the biggest way to overcome this difficulty. You do not have to go to an expensive academy to finance flight training; you simply have to talk to people and network. There are many people at your local FBO who want to help other aspiring pilots, because pilots as a breed love to share their love of flight (i.e. washing airplanes for free time). Many FBO's now also offer student loans. And you definately should talk to somebody who knows how to get the flight training you need at a reduced rate (i.e. training in a simulator versus the airplane, doing your commercial training in a fixed gear versus retractable...)

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