Real Answers from Real Pilots

Tory - Biography

Hello everyone!

My aviation career began in 2013 in Sacramento, CA. I think I represent a smaller group of pilots out there when I say this, flying was not something I always dreamt about doing since I was young. 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 came to an abrupt halt during my freshman year of college. Of all things to turn my world upside down, a blood clot had developed in my subclavian vein. Surgery, blood thinners and physical therapy forced me to reevaluate my goals in life. I chose to hang my cleats up and focus on school.

I took prerequisite classes for Aerospace Engineering (AE) at my local community college with the intention of finishing my degree at a four year university.

In 2009 I transferred to Cal State Long Beach, continued my AE undergrad, but ultimately decided to change my major to Communication Studies. Something inside of me was telling me that engineering wasn’t the right fit.

After changing my major I found myself on the other side of campus feeling excited again about going to class. I was still unsure about what I was going to do after college, but at least I was learning something I enjoyed.

Because I was unsure about my future I joined the American Marketing Association on campus. 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 just a blast to be apart of.

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, Sodium Bicarbonate, you name it. 10 months later, I found myself experiencing that same feeling I had about engineering. This time, I had to dig deep. I was done settling. I needed a career that I was going to be passionate about. Not an easy task with the limited experience I had, but eventually it came to me.

I remembered back at 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 that day in the office at Hub Group.

Just to be sure I took an intro flight to test the waters. Hooked! The next part was figuring out which school and financing. ATP had it all. It seemed too good to be true. But they were the real deal.

In order to afford not working while in the program I moved back home. A few months into the program I faced one of the hardest challenges of my career. About a year earlier, just before I graduated college, my dad suddenly passed away. I had to make another tough decision to postpone my flight training. I needed to take a medical leave of absence. I called the FAA to voluntarily surrender my medical.

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 I made some money on the side.

After earning my PPL, I needed 80 hours total 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 the second group of pilots 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 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 begun to develop a passion for safety. I’ve volunteered in local forums, LOSA, and I have an application in to become a Check Pilot.

As I look ahead, I am considering Alaska, Delta and United 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) and I don’t want to spend any of those years commuting. I realize I may have to compromise, but I’m trying to be thoughtful about where I put my apps in. I have west coast roots and so does my fiancé.

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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