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Sun, Feb. 23

Talk of the Town: Follow passion, planning to reach dreams

Becoming a fireman, police officer, pilot, or joining the military is often a dream of so many young boys and girls. While many of my friends went through the stages of following their dreams to become a police officer or firefighter, I found my passion of flying airplanes – and it took off.

Traveling with my family as a young boy, I sat in the back of a Southwest airplane. My hope was to be one of the last passengers off and get a chance to talk with the pilots. The effort paid off. As I exited the aircraft, the captain allowed us to visit the flight deck. The seasoned aviator took his time explaining the countless instruments and switches. He even allowed me to turn on and off the fasten seatbelt sign, a familiar chime so many of us hear while flying. The enthusiasm and time dedicated by that Southwest pilot stayed with me as I matured.

I am now attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, on track to become a professional pilot with hopes of joining the coveted ranks of the Southwest pilot in the coming years. My college presented internship opportunities at a career fair during my junior year. While attending the career fair, I found Southwest Campus Reach – the department that provides internship opportunities for the many different departments at Southwest Airlines. I had no idea that there were internship opportunities for aspiring pilots in Southwest Flight Operations prior to this event, let alone with the one airline I had always dreamed of flying for as a young man. After refining my resume, a lengthy phone interview and an in-person panel interview, I was selected as one of the 151 interns who would work for Southwest over the summer of 2019. Nearly 20,000 applications for interns had been reviewed by Campus Reach for that summer semester.

Although the internship at Southwest did not allow me to sharpen my piloting skills with their massive fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, I did work closely with the nearly 10,000 pilots who do every single day. My summer was spent working in the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) office of Flight Operations. EFB’s are used by pilots during flight for navigation and for manual reference. With the assistance and watchful guidance of office staff, I was able to help pilots set up their iPads for use on the flight deck. On special occasions, I was able to network and shadow with other departments at Southwest. These additional experiences helped me see just how the airline gets it reputation as one of the world’s most loved.

If you have a dream or ambition that seems impossible, my advice would be to set a course now. Navigate in the direction of your dream. Plan for some turbulent conditions and understand that they will happen; however, understand well that blue skies are just over the horizon.

Matthew Gailey is a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science with an Aeronautical Science major and a Meteorology minor. He is originally from Lubbock, Texas, and is planning to be a professional pilot after his flight training in Arizona.

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