Real Answers from Real Pilots

Tory - Biography

Hello everyone!

My aviation career began in 2013 in Sacramento, CA. Let me start off by saying that flying was not something I always dreamt about. I have found, however, the job to be very rewarding and I have become very passionate about safety and CRM. Before I talk about my path to the airlines here is a little background about where I started.

My dream was to become a professional soccer player. The game was everything to me. Thirteen years of soccer ended during my freshman year at American River College. A blood clot that required surgery, blood thinners and physical therapy forced me to reevaluate my goals in life. I chose to hang up my cleats and focus on school.

I took prerequisite classes for Aerospace Engineering (AE) at my community college and later transferred to Cal State Long Beach to continue my AE undergrad. Two years later I changed my major to Communication Studies and graduated with a Liberal Arts degree in 2012.

While earning my degree, I also joined the American Marketing Association. I wasn’t interested in Marketing, necessarily. I was more intrigued by their slogan for the year: Build Your Own Brand. I loved that organization. It was the foundation of my professional development and we also had a lot of fun together.

After graduating from CSULB, I worked for Hub Group, a transportation logistics company, brokering and managing truck loads of products like Starbucks Coffee, Samsung TVs, C&H Sugar, groceries, you name it. But it was not the right fit.

While I was attending CSULB one of my friend’s roommates was playing MS Flight Sim. Although just a computer game, I began daydreaming about being a pilot. It seemed like such an unrealistic dream at the time. It wasn’t long before I snapped myself back to reality and didn’t think about it until that familiar feeling came back one day at the office.

I took an intro flight in Fullerton, CA to see if this fascination could turn into something tangible. It was a poor-visibility day, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t there for the view. I was there to learn. I was hooked! When researching schools in California, ATP had it all. It seemed too good to be true, but they were/are the real deal.

In order to afford not working while in the program I moved back home to Sacramento. You’re probably thinking that you know how this story ends already. I thought so too. I was wrong.

A few months into the program I faced one of the hardest challenges of my career. I hadn’t dealt with the loss of my father. He suddenly passed away three months before I graduated college. I took a medical leave of absence and called the FAA to voluntarily surrender my medical because of disqualifying medication that I was prescribed.

Nine months later, after reaching stability and following all of the FAA’s instructions, I was reissued another 1st Class Medical.

This time I decided to earn my PPL at a school next door to ATP so I could work part-time. This decision served me well. I was able to assimilate the information at my own pace while making some money on the side.

After earning my PPL, I needed 80 hours of total flight time to be eligible for ATP’s Credit for Private program. So, I had some fun and rented a 172 from my school. I flew my friends and family to some cool airports like Little River and Mariposa-Yosemite Airport.

Six months later I graduated from ATP’s 100 Hour Multi-engine Program and was fortunate to be assigned to the Sacramento training center as a CFI. I spent the next two years teaching mainly between the Sacramento and Oakland training centers and a short stint in Riverside.

Teaching for ATP enhanced my skills and knowledge as a pilot, without question. I was fully invested. Not only that, but I really cared about my own and my students’ performance. I tried to be the best CFI I could be so that my students were always over-prepared.

At 900 hours total time I began receiving tuition reimbursement from Horizon Air. Reaching 1500 hours I was assigned a class date for the E175. I was in the second group of pilots at Horizon to be typed in the aircraft.

The learning curve was steep, but I had a strong foundation and work ethic from ATP. It was especially difficult because the plane was also new to Horizon. So, the Check Pilots were learning as we were too. In the end, I made it through without any failures, and I hit the line immediately after IOE (Initial Operating Experience).

This was a HUGE milestone in my life. I reminisce about the moment I decided to become a pilot and it still amazes me that I have come this far in such a short amount of time.

Flying for Horizon has been a wonderful experience to say the least. It’s a company filled with talent. It’s inspiring to work along side my esteemed colleagues.

1100 hours later, I became a Captain on the E175 and I’m loving it. I have a passion for safety and CRM. I have volunteered in local safety forums, LOSA, and I have applications in to become a Check Pilot, Sim Instructor and CRM Instructor. I have also worked with our Chief Check Pilot on the E175, and the CRM training department to improve safety and CRM at Horizon.

As I look ahead, I am considering Alaska or Delta as potential majors to fly for. Reasons for choosing these airlines have mostly to do with quality of life. I have 30+ years to give (if I’m lucky). I have west coast roots and so does my wife.

That about wraps up my bio. Thank you for reading. I’m here for you now. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve drafted over a dozen threads in our FAQ. If your questions aren’t answered there, try the search function at the top.

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