Our “Featured Alumni” for Summer 2013 is corporate pilot, aviation blogger and aviation radio host, Al Waterloo. Al graduated from the Institute of Aviation in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Human Factors. In regards to his education Al says, “I am actually quite thankful now that I have this degree. Aviation is really getting on board with technology. The new technologies are creating a new set of problems and it’s quite interesting being a part of the solution.” In a recent email interview, Al filled us in on what he has been doing since graduation.
“When I graduated I flew for Republic Airlines for four years. I was based out of DCA for two years and then MKE for my final two years. I ended up taking a voluntary furlough from Republic Airlines to go to another airline. Two days before my start date at the new airline an opportunity to fly for a corporation here in Chicago became available. It turned out to be a great opportunity and I am currently still flying as a corporate pilot in a King Air 200GT out of the PWK airport. In my time off I have really re-developed my passion for flight instruction. It’s been fun building a client base of students and helping them achieve their aviation dreams.”
We hear that you have an aviation blog and aviation radio show. Can you tell us more about that?
“I just woke up one day and wanted to start blogging about aviation. It was meant to expose to my family what I do for a living and include pictures. SimpleFlight became a lot of fun and people quickly started reading the blog. It continued to grow and I started doing and am still doing a Live Aviation Radio Show. The first episode of the radio show was opening day of Oshkosh Air Venture 2012. Let me tell you how awkward it was talking into a microphone for two hours by myself in a hotel room at Oshkosh. The show has turned into something awesome. It’s really about finding amazing people doing amazing things in aviation. We have had some outstanding guests on the show. It really has opened my eyes to all the cool things going on in aviation. Aviation isn't just people flying airplanes, it’s truly an industry. I think people lose sight of that. There are plenty of entrepreneurs, everyday pilots, and passionate everyday people that are securing a very bright future for aviation. It’s quite exciting! The radio show can be listened to Live on Sunday Nights 8pm CST on SimpleFlight.net or it can be downloaded later from iTunes or our Radio Archive page. Here is a link to a 1 minute movie of what the show has turned into:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFOA9jUBAm8
Do you have any memories or interesting stories to share about your time at the U of I or the Institute of Aviation?
“Too many to count! Some of my favorite stories come from my time on the Flying Team and working at Mesaba Airlines at Willard Airport.
“Mesaba Airlines @ CMI - I was working during my freshman and sophomore year as a customer service agent for Mesaba Airlines at Willard Airport. The airplanes that we worked were Saab Fairchild 340's. Part of our duties was to clean the airplanes at night for the next morning's flights. One winter evening our last flight came in and we started cleaning the plane. It was a really cold night and my co-worker and I were freezing. I thought I was really clever to think about hooking up the heating cart that blows warm air into the cabin to keep us warm. To make sure no heat escaped, I thought I'd be EXTRA clever and shut the main cabin door. As soon as I shut the door, my ears started to pop. The airplane was pressurizing and I had successfully locked us into the SAAB 340. We couldn't open the door because of the pressurized cabin. My co-worker and I had to pry the captain's window open to decompress the cabin so we could open the door. Needless to say our boss never found out about this one :) This experience did build great confidence in plug type cabin doors.
“Flying Team - It was a great experience of building some of the best friendships one could ask for. Flying airplanes with your best friends in college is really something special and to treasure. Being on the flying team was a lot of fun and goofy in a sense. It exposed you to other sides of aviation that were important to experience as a young pilot. I'd definitely recommend it to everybody. The friends I met on flying team are still some of my best friends today! In fact for a recent bachelor party for my group of flying team friends, we went and got our sea plane ratings over a weekend. It was a lot of fun and it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for flying team. Here is a short video of our trip:”
What do you like to do when you’re not flying and promoting aviation?
“I like to fly and promote aviation when I am not doing it already. One of the recent guests on the radio show was John and Martha King. John King diagnosed me with a really bad case of aviation. It’s a lifestyle for me. I have officially become one of those socially awkward aviation nuts. I hope my parents are proud!”
We would like to thank Al for taking the time to visit with us. You can read Al’s blog, listen to his live radio show and more at www.simpleflight.net.