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Nov 2017 Featured Alumni Extended Article
Jason Dorsey

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First, I'd like to say that I'm humbled to be a part of the BGSU Aviation family! My start in aviation started when I fourteen years old growing up in Morgantown, West Virginia. After moving to Powell (Columbus), OH my junior year of high school, I started looking into the service academies, ROTC and the various aviation schools. I chose to pursue BGSU and started flying right away during the fall semester of 2003. Unfortunately, the Air Force ROTC didn’t work out for me as there weren’t pilot slots being allocated, so I concentrated on being a normal student.  After spending countless hours of hard work, balancing academics and social life, volunteering and more I found myself ready to exit BGSU in the fall of 2006

After working as a flight instructor and building my flight hours during my junior and senior years, I was able to obtain a new job in Greenville, NC. In Greenville, at the age of 22, I asked my boss, “What do I need to do to get out of flight instructing?” He pointed me to a little regional airline called Piedmont and in summer of 2007, 6 months after graduating from BGSU, I started flying for the airlines. A few years later, after getting married and having other life changing events, I saw the window to apply for US Airways open and I went for it, I was graciously offered the job.

It’s been a journey beyond my wildest dreams. We just completed the largest merger in aviation history between US Airways and American Airlines to create the world’s largest airline that has retained the name American Airlines. A little over a year ago, I took the opportunity to upgrade to captain on the Embraer 190. Being one of the youngest captains at the world’s largest airline is an amazing, humbling and a challenging position.

 

The biggest lesson I took from BGSU is simple. Don’t burn bridges. It’s amazing how small of an industry aviation is in retrospect. You will never stop running into a familiar faces amongst tens of thousands of pilots, hundreds of corporations and companies of all backgrounds. One of the highlight of my career was connecting with fellow alum, Raphael Vasconcelos, in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. It was the summer of 2014 and I was operating a flight from Charlotte, NC to Rio on the Boeing 767. I was sitting in my hotel room when I got the Facebook alert "hey are you in town." Long story short and many hours later, a lifelong memory was formed by Raphael’s hospitality to show me and my fellow pilot his beautiful hometown. Whether it’s stateside or a million miles away from home, you will always find that certain fraternity of familiar faces. Always be willing to extend a hand of help when you’re on top in life, you never know when you will find yourself back at the bottom wishing for that same hand of help. I unfortunately didn’t learn this lesson as a younger ego driven pilot. Nevertheless, lessons learned make you stronger.

 

It’s not old news, THERE IS A PILOT SHORTAGE. For those looking into attending BGSU, those currently enrolled at BGSU and those post graduate, we will all bare the fruit of supply and demand. When I started at Piedmont Airlines, It wasn’t uncommon for pilots to wait seven to ten years to upgrade to captain and finally make a decent wage ($50,000-$80,000). Fast forward a decade and the regional airlines are hurting for pilots. Some regional airlines are being forced to cancel flights due to lack of qualified crewmembers. Upgrading to captain is as quick as one year. Most regional airlines all are offering signing bonuses, retention bonuses and various contractual improvements that is making the career more appetizing.

 

Lastly, it’s hard to look at the big picture while in school when you’re worried about the current stress of college life. If you can find down time, do your research, call an alum, and make connections, find a plan A, B and C. Never feel alone. We are fortunate at BGSU to have numerous alumni in all aspects of this industry. We are all willing to help extend the hand of help. The vast network of alumni is only one of the numerous benefits of being a part of the BGSU aviation family. Fly safe, study hard, perfect your craft and enjoy the journey along the way.

 

Jason Dorsey

Captain

American Airlines