Hi everybody, my name is Owen and this is my story. Many people have asked who I am and what I do. So today I figured I would clear that up and share my aviation story and how I got to where I am today.
I’ve loved airplanes ever since I was a kid, I would spend hours at the airport as a teenager ‘Planespotting,’ (hence the name SJC Spotter) and posting photos online. When I was 14 I took my first flight with the EAA Young Eagles program and was hooked! From that day forward I saved every penny I earned with the intention of starting flight training as soon as possible. My parents, neither of which are pilots were supportive of my goals but insisted I pay for it myself.
As a sophomore in high school, I had no idea how I would save up almost $10,000 with no real job. However, thanks to some creativity, hard work, and a scholarship, I took my first flight lesson at 15 and I soloed a month later on my 16th birthday. While I was waiting to turn 17 to get my license, I spent most of my time hanging around the airport meeting pilots and airplane owners. It was here I scored my first job working for Jim Lafferty, a well known aircraft salesman and one of the founders of San Jose Jet Center (now Atlantic Aviation). What I thought was just going to be a fun summer job would completely change my aviation career. The job ended up being a blast and in addition to cleaning airplanes, I would photograph them for the website and even ride along on flights.
After a long year of waiting, I received my Private Pilot's License just a few days after my 17th birthday. Having paid for it all myself while going to high school and playing sports, I was extremely proud of myself and excited to see what kind of doors this would open. My job quickly turned from washboy to pilot. I got checked out in the Bonanzas and began flying them around building hours. By the time I turned 18, I was well over the requirements to obtain a Commercial Rating. I soon found myself riding around in the right seat of Turboprops and Jets, which of course raised the question of how this is all possible at 18 years old with just under 500 hours. To answer honestly, it happened by accident. Besides my first job, I never looked for or applied for a job nor had an interview. These opportunities arose simply by chatting to pilots and aircraft owners that were around the airport and FBOs, and being at the right place in the right time.
I’m also active in my local EAA chapter, the same one I took my first flight with, serving on the board and flying kids at the monthly Young Eagle Rallies. I encourage everyone to contact your local chapter and see how you can get involved and inspire the next generation of pilots! There’s no better experience than seeing these kids faces as they experience flight for the first time.
Today I am a Commercial Multi Engine pilot with around 2500 hours. I still fly for Jim, ferrying airplanes and shuttling flight crews. That job has allowed me to fly more airplane types than I could have ever imagined and opened up doors and connections to many of the flying gigs I have currently. I am thankful for him mentoring me and helping me get to where I am today. Some of the planes I fly on a regular basis include a variety of Bonanza’s and Barons, a Piaggio, a Conquest, and as of recently, a Gulfstream G4. Flying a jet of this size has always been a dream of mine and I consider myself very lucky to be doing so this early in my career.
I am also a full time college student, finishing up my third year at San Jose State. Many people ask how I balance school and flying. Being a contract pilot allows for flexibility therefore I can turn down flights if they interfere with my school schedule. Now, like most others, classes are completely online offering even more flexibility to be able to work from anywhere in the world.
That about sums up my story so far in aviation, I worked hard for everything I have achieved and am proud of where I am today. If anyone has any questions feel free to message me!