Pilot to Pilot podcast ep 022 ft James Heath: Pilot turned ATC.

What is going on Avination,

Welcome back to the Pilot to Pilot podcast, today I am talking with aviation journeyman James Heath. James is a former CFI, airline ground handler, 2x regional pilot and current air traffic controller.

In today’s episode we talk about.

  • How a movie led him to aviation.
  • How the book Contact led him down the path to find ET.
  • How a young Eagle flight with the EAA at age 9 was one of the coolest and most terrifying things he has done.
  • James was making more money playing more money playing online poker than his part-time jobs.
  • How his mom saying no to dropping out of college for online poker led him to take aviation classes.
  • James was hooked from his first flight at Illinois.
  • Changed his major 2 years into college.
  • Which in turn gave him put him on the 6-year plan.
  • James’s mom made him call her before and after every flight.
  • How James graduated in one of the worst times in aviation.
  • Why he chose to become a flight instructor in Arizona over Illinois.
  • What it was like teaching all foreign students.
  • What made James think about becoming an Air Traffic Controller.
  • What really sold him on ATC.
  • Applied in ATC July 2009 (terrible time to apply for ATC).
  • Why he left being a CFI and became a ground handler.
  • How to he ended up flying caravans for the company he was a ground handler for.
  • We talk about what it is like flying a Caravan into the busiest airports in the US.
  • Why he chose the to fly for the regionals.
  • How he chose between the different regionals at the time.
  • What it was like flying at the regionals.
  • How he ended up switching regionals.
  • How the plans you make rarely work out in this industry.
  • Why it is important to have a backup plan.
  • When he finally got the call from ATC.
  • How ATC hires.
  • Why James decided to walk away from flying to become a controller.
  • We talk In detail about what the process is to become an ATC.
  • How the training to become an Air Traffic Controller is a very long process.
  • It took him 25 months to become fully certified.
  • A time where Washington Center told me I shouldn’t be flying tonight.
  • Why he likes working low sectors.

Avination, thank you for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoyed it, please let me know! Email me at pilottopilothq@gmail.com or reach out on Instagram @pilottopilot.

Happy Flying,


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