Airline Pilot Interview – Aaron Mathis


7 minutes to read

Success Story #14


Meet Aaron and stay tuned for our monthly post every 1st of the month from 1/12/2016.

It’s time to see again how passion and devotion lead to success. Aaron Mathis at the age of 21 with 1500+ hours inspire us with his personal efforts to make his dream become reality!

So Aaron lets start from you! Tell us how you gave wings to your dream!

Hello to all followers of Enjoy Flying. My name is Aaron Mathis and I am from a small town outside of Birmingham Alabama, located in the United States. I have lived in Alabama for most of my life and it’s been an amazing place to fall in love with aviation!

This entire aviation journey started when I was about two years old. I was born in Nashville Tennessee where I lived until I was five. I was born and raised in a house just off of the approach end of 18L. There I would often find our windows rattling because the planes flew so low over our house, but you would never find me complaining because I was always amazed at the sight of the airplanes. Whenever my parents took me to my daycare, I would always make my dad drive the log way so I could see the airplanes. This was the normal childhood dream to be an aviator that still hadn’t found that true spark.When I was seven years old, I flew on an airliner as a passenger with my mom. I was honestly terrified of not being in control whatsoever but I managed to survive the experience! Once we got in the air, I felt like a pro at flying. The whole two leg trip

This was the normal childhood dream to be an aviator that still hadn’t found that true spark.When I was seven years old, I flew on an airliner as a passenger with my mom. I was honestly terrified of not being in control whatsoever but I managed to survive the experience! Once we got in the air, I felt like a pro at flying. The whole two leg trip was uneventful and I was happy to have made it safe and sound to Toledo Ohio. During our few days stay with family, there wasn’t much for an energetic seven years old to do, so I found a magazine article with the Northwest Airlines fleet and began to draw the airplanes and I started to really begin to see the detail of the airplanes. This enabled me to understand the true complexity of the airplanes. The next ride home, I was extremely excited to fly again. On the second leg, just before touching down, I decided that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a professional pilot.

Flying the PA28G

I kept my promise to myself and when I was 17 I decided it’s time to start. I became a licensed pilot just after I turned 18. I was instrument, commercial and CFI single engine and multi-engine Commercial/Instrument all by the age of 19. I had about 1.5 years to get the 1,500 total hours required and be at least age 21 by the FAA to become R-ATP (airline transport pilot with captain restriction). I interviewed with 2 airlines at age 20 with 1,400 hours experience and started training with the airline that I’m currently with a week after I turned 21 to become ATP eligible.

What type of airplane do you fly these days?

Currently, I’m flying the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ). I am type rated to fly the 200, 700 and 900 series’s of this aircraft.

Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet

Do you hold any other license?

I have no other type ratings but have hundreds of hours in smaller aircraft such as the Cessna 172, Cherokee 140, and Baron 58 and about 50 hours in Citations and King Air 350’s.

Multi Engine time!

By far the most difficult part of becoming an airline pilot in the U.S. is building the 1,500 hours of experience required to become an airline pilot. In order to do this, most people have to decide on a particular route in which they are going to take to get these hours if they are looking to do it in a particular time frame. I decided the fastest way for me to do this was to become a flight instructor.

Practicing some chandelles in the complex at 7,500ft


I Instructed the US Military’s Navy and Marine Pilots. My primary job was to teach them from zero flight time to solo in no more than 13 hours experience. I did this for 9 months, 7 days a week, 4-7 hours a day and in that 9 months, I flew 1,010 hours and sold 73 students. This completed my time building process. Even now that I have been flying the cool stuff I still find it really fun to go out in a single engine and keep it low and slow. I still enjoy occasions going out with others and sharing the love of flying in the simplest most down to earth way. Flying 1,400 hours in a single-engine piston popper” is always going to be an exciting experience.

Single Engine Relax Time!

Any emergencies that you want to share?

In that time I never had any serious emergencies but did have some challenges to get past. I’ve had several total electrical failures, flap failures, several CO2 events.The most commonemergency situation”I encountered was running out of coffee,haha! 7 hour instructing days are very long and hard, especially staying down  low and slow in the heat at pattern altitude doing as much as 50 landings per day. All in all, I’ve been blessed that I haven’t had any serious emergencies. I haven’t had anything crazy happen in the airlines yet and I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that!

Name some people that inspired you!

I’ve had a few motivators starting with my parents. My parents have been my biggest motivator because they always supported me no matter how big of an obstacle or how far off my dream was. There are some people in aviation like my previous instructors that believed in me and pushed me to be a better pilot each and every day and never got tired of me showing up to the airport 5 times a week.

Aaron ”touching” the dream

Another motivator is the Chief Pilot for Thompson Tractor. He brought me into the professional aviation world via Citations and gave me tons of guidance as to what paths to take and how to be smart about taking them. Other personal motivators have helped me through the struggles that most people didn’t understand and helped me believe in myself and continuously gave me confidence to keep pushing and never look back.

Tell us about your future plans!

I would love to be a pilot for one of the U.S. carriers such as American Airlines. In the next 4-6 years. I know I still have a lot to learn in this industry and that would be the most obvious future plan. Getting comfortable in jet aircraft is not an easy transition especially coming mostly from a single engine piston background.


What is your message to future pilots?

To all future aviators. The future is yours. It can be anything that you want it. If you want it bad enough, you will do absolutely anything and everything that it takes to become who you want to be and never look back. This industry has never had as much opportunity as it does now.

Aaron and the King Air
Aaron and the King Air

Becoming a professional pilot may seem like a very distant goal, but I’ll be the first person to tell you that dreams do not come true over night. It takes unmeasurable amounts of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice and it takes every bit of this one day at a time. People often ask me how do I do it? How do I stay motivated? How do I keep pushing? I tell them it’s simple, just take it ONE DAY AT A TIME. Become who you want to be and never forget where you started.

Follow me on Instagram @aaaronair and feel free direct message me with any questions you may have related to becoming a professional pilot.

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Thank you Aaron, we wish you all the best in you life and in your career!

Always enjoy flying!