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Matt Watson
Name: Matt Watson
Company: American Airlines
Position: First Officer
Current Aircraft: Super 80
Age N/A
Country USA

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

Mentor profile:
I had always had a desire to fly airliners, but never had the means or time to pursue flying in my high school years. I was lucky enough to be recruited by the Air Force Academy to play hockey out of high school in Michigan where I grew up. This was a great opportunity for me as it allowed me to play college hockey a have an chance to fly if I made through the Academy. My flying experience began there with my first flight time logged in the T-41, a sort of weeding out program at the "Zoo". Upon graduation from the Academy I attended USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training(UPT) at Vance AFB, where I flew the T-37 and T-38. My assignment out of UPT was a KC-135A("Water-Wagon") to Plattsburgh AFB, NY. Midway through my 3 year assignment in NY we converted to the KC-135R model with the newer CFM-56 engines. Following the base closure round of 1994, Plattsburgh was shut down and I moved to Grand Forks AFB, ND where I upgraded to Aircraft Commander and Instructor Pilot on the KC-135R. Although not the most glamorous of missions in the Air Force, flying the "Tanker" was a great way to build up PIC turbine time, not to mention a great way to see the world. With about 2 years left on my 8 year commitment to the Air Force I decided it was time to start preparing for my ultimate goal of landing a job with a Major Airline. I sent out resumes and applications to just about anyone who was hiring at the time, which was just about every major and national carrier. The day after I separated from the Air Force I interviewed and was hired by US Airways. I spent just under 5 months there flying the MD-80 as a first officer. As I finished my IOE with them I interviewed and was hired by American with a class date a few months later. It was a difficult decision at the time to leave one major for another, but is has worked out so far. At American I trained on the 727 as a Flight Engineer and shortly thereafter returned for training on the Super 80 which is where I am today as a First Officer based out of O'hare.

Favorite thing about flying:
I like to compare it to golf. I'm sure you have heard the saying; "The worst day of golf is better than the best day at work" We'll that's kind of how a feel about flying, and the great thing is flying is my work!
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
In the military is was the large blocks of time (45-120 days)away from family while deployed. I am finding in the civil side of the house, it is the uncertainty and volatility of the industry.

What you would have done different:
Not much. If I were to pursue the military route again I might look at doing it through the Guard or Reserve first.
Advice to aspiring pilots:
Set your goals and stick with them. There will be bumps along the way, but stay true to your objectives.
Problems encounterd along the way:
Financially becoming a pilot can be very tasking. The military provides for a much more stable financial picture but there are trade-offs either way you go. With the uncertainty of the industry and when it is going to be at what point in the economic cycle it is important to plan for the worst of times and expect the best of times.

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