Ohio University

06/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/08/2018 08:12

Alumni aviators reflect on their OHIO experience

The Ohio University Russ College of Engineering and Technology's Department of Aviation has prepared hundreds of aspiring aviators for careers in the air over its 70-year history. OHIO aviation students gain access to quality aircraft, knowledgeable instructors, the OHIO Gordon K. Bush Airport and other necessary resources to fine success in the field.

Aviation alumni depart OHIO ready for positions as major airline pilots, government aviation agency managers and other roles working with the latest aviation technology.

ohiotoday.org news caught up with four of these aviation professionals to talk about their OHIO experience, and how it has impacted their professional and personal lives since graduation.

Below are their excerpted responses to our questions.

What did being a part of the OHIO aviation program mean to you?

Jon Wittoesch, BSA '13: It was a way to further my career. Most of the major airlines require a four-year degree along with getting the flight training things done while you are in school.

Heath Bowers, BSA '08: Being a part of the aviation program fulfilled a dream that I have had since I was little. But going to Ohio University and being a part of their program opened up a lot of doors that made me realize I can actually achieve the dream that I want.

Gavin Whitehead, BSA '16: One thing about going to OHIO is that it is definitely a respected aviation program. I've heard that from multiple people and even when we would go on these corporate trips to talk to other aviation companies. They said that our training at OHIO is top-tier.

Justine Bowes, BSA '07: Being a part of the aviation program at OHIO lead me to where I am today. All of my hard work has paid off, and I have made lifelong friends and connections. I'm currently at my dream career because of my beginnings at OHIO.

What has been your biggest achievement in aviation?

Wittoesch: I got a scholarship to get my instructor license. It was great because it was not cheap. That was all kind of performance-based, so they kept me flying pretty well. I used to fly [former OHIO President] Rod McDavis and [Russ College] Dean Dennis Irwin around in airplanes too.

Bowers: I have landed my dream job. I graduated in 2008 when the airlines kind of stopped hiring. They really weren't looking for pilots at all. I get to work with my wife at my dream job, so it's been an amazing ride.

Whitehead: My senior year, I Interviewed at an airline and got a job as an airline pilot before I graduated. It came a lot faster than I thought for sure, so I was able to walk across the stage at graduation and the next week I was at airline training.

Bowes: It was definitely the day I got my private pilot license my freshman year. There were a few other moments, but that one topped it for sure.

What kind of advice would you give to students who are currently in the program?

Wittoesch: I would tell them to probably take as many general classes as they can online so that they can get out to the airport more to fly. The more time that students can spend out there, the quicker it is that they will get through the program.

Bowers: I would say keep studying as best as you can because your record follows you everywhere. Be friendly to everybody, and even if you are not sure if you are going to like something, just give it a try.

Whitehead: There are so many resources out there. Don't sell yourself short to do the bare minimum, because you can benefit yourself so much more when you can pull from the things that were above and beyond what you were taught in the classroom.

Bowes: Don't give up, no matter how challenging it is. If you fail a check ride, accept it, learn from it and move on. My biggest piece of advice is to learn from your mistakes.