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Ben Votipka
Name: Ben Votipka
Company: USAF
Position: Instructor
Current Aircraft: T-6, T-37, F-16C, F-15E, AH-1F
Age N/A
Country USA

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

Mentor profile:
I am currently a USAF T-6A JSUPT Instructor Pilot. I enlisted in the US Army out of HS as a UH-60 crew chief. I was then accepted into Warrant Officer Helicopter Pilot Training. After Helo pilot training I flew the AH-1F Cobra for 4 years while I worked on my Bachelor's Degree from ERAU. I was then accepted into the USAF for UPT. Follow UPT I went on to fly the F-16C at Homestead, FL. I went to Ft. Bragg, NC as an Jump ALO with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps. Following my ALO tour I went to RAF Lakenheath UK to fly the F-15E. I departed RAF Lakenheath to fly and Instruct in the T-37 at Columbus AFB, MS. I was selected as Initial Cadre in the T-6A at Moody AFB, GA. I retire with 20.5 years of service in a few months and hope to start flying for SWA in the near future.

Favorite thing about flying:
Knowing that I am getting to use the skills that God has blessed me with, and have fun while doing so.
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
The biggest disadvantage is that you have to stop someday. Whether it be for medical, personal or age reasons.

What you would have done different:
I would have had more of a social life and tried to enjoy spending more time with my wife and kids. I spent a majority of my career taking myself and my career too seriously. But once you get into a pattern of working from Sunrise to Sunset it is hard to break. None on there death bed ever said "I wish I could have spent more time at work." My point is, life is short, don't spend it chasing one dream after another, or trying to work your tail off for more money. Find a happy medium, and I would recommend veering to the life style side than work.
Advice to aspiring pilots:
If you believe in God, keep him at the helm in your life, always trust his judgment for your life. Never take NO for an answer, there are many ways to skin a cat.
Problems encounterd along the way:
I have tons of people in my career tell me I couldn't do this or do that. They would say "this isn't the time to put in your application." Or they would say "You aren't Officer material or Airline pilot material. “First of all. What does your peers know about anything. Always apply for something even if you don't think you are qualified, because things constantly change.

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