Hi everyone! My name is Jake Schleppenbach, I’m a 26 year old flight instructor living in San Diego, CA, but was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. Growing up, I mostly focused on playing sports. I was busy all year around either playing baseball, basketball or football. I played all three until my freshman year of high school, when I decided to take baseball more seriously as I wanted to play in college. I worked hard enough and was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Nebraska, which was a dream come true as I had watched and wanted to play for them pretty much my entire life!
Needless to say that throughout college, being a student athlete took up the majority of my time. It wasn’t until my senior year that I discovered a love for aviation. I always knew I wanted a career that was different from your standard 9-5, and something that was active. I thought that being a pilot and traveling would be an exciting and rewarding career, so I started talking to number of different people. Unlike many pilots I talk to now, nobody in my family is a pilot so I didn't know much about the industry. I researched and read a lot online, and talked to a family friend who is a captain for Delta, until finally making the decision to go for it!
I got my private pilots license at a small flight school in Council Bluffs, Iowa. After obtaining my PPL, I went to ATP flight school in San Diego, CA. ATP was very challenging yet extremely rewarding and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I finished, passing all 7 on my check rides on the first attempt! I now have my CFI, CFII and MEI and am building hours (recently just broke the 1,500 hour mark!) and experience for the next step in my career.
As I just mentioned, ATP was difficult and very fast paced (like 6 check rides in 9 months fast), and along with that came a lot of stress and anxiety. Flying the plane came pretty natural to me but I don’t think I realized at the beginning how much I would actually need to study, so that was probably the biggest challenge for me.
However, I found the material enjoyable for the most part and that made it a little easier. I also set a goal for myself to pass all my check rides on the first attempt and that drove me to study a lot more as well. The biggest piece of advice I can give to help with that is to be organized and try to think about the material in real world scenarios, opposed to just memorizing things, which will help a lot for the checkrides.
I also encourage all of my students to find someone that is working on the same certificate or rating as them, and to study together and quiz each other. This helped me out a ton as a student because we were both going through training together and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and talk to other students about things that didn’t make sense to me. Last bit of advice is to not forget about the ACS! Too often do I see student’s that are unfamiliar with the ACS and I don’t understand why. After all, that is what the examiner will be using to structure your check ride, and knowing what the examiner is going to ask and expect is obviously an advantage.
My ultimate goal is to be a captain at a major airline or fly a corporate jet internationally. COVID has definitely delayed my career a bit, however I still have the same goals and ambitions as I’ve always had!
Thanks for reading a little bit about me and my story, please feel free to follow and reach out to me on Instagram @pilot.jake. I love interacting and talking with pilots at all stages in their career!