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Next destination: Keeping people safe on the ground and in the air

After a 15-year career as a law enforcement officer, First Officer Bobby Youmans was ready to pursue his dream of flying at age 35. During his time in law enforcement, he gained skills and experience that he uses as a Piedmont pilot related to safety, situational awareness and the ability to de-escalate tense situations.

Originally from Ocala, Florida, Bobby aspired to be a police officer since he was a young boy. “I still have my Junior Police Officer card I received at a police recruiting event in 1981,” he shares proudly. He joined the Marion County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy Sheriff in 1998 where he worked road patrol and undercover in vice crimes and the narcotics unit. In one notable traffic stop, he seized 40 kilos of drugs and $2.5 million dollars in cash.  After several close encounters and risking his life on a daily basis, Bobby says it was time for a change in career. After sharing his wishes to retire with his wife, she supported him to pursue something he was passionate about: becoming a commercial pilot. When he awoke the next morning, she had already located a local flight school for him to attend. Bobby retired from active deputy status in 2013 but remains a reserve deputy and tactical flight officer with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

“I never saw flying as more than a hobby until my wife encouraged me to give it a try,” said Bobby. He had flown with friends in their planes, notably his good friend and fellow aviation enthusiast, John Travolta but this would be something different. “I had lived my life without fear and regret and decided to go after it at age 35.” He attended L3 Harris Academy in Orlando, Florida and instructed there for three years after becoming a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). Bobby joined Piedmont as a First Officer in February 2018.

As a law enforcement officer, Bobby was trained to de-escalate tense situations and utilized his training daily while on the job. “As a pilot, my skills in de-escalation come into play weekly when dealing with upset or disruptive customers,” says Bobby. “It’s all how you talk to people whether it’s customers, gate agents or gate agents who work for another airline. Being a cop taught me how to engage with others, listen to their concerns and do my best to resolve the situation.” His prior experience in safety and security helps with his situational awareness when onboard the aircraft and in airports. He is a trained observer and is keen to notice when situations aren’t safe.

Bobby is glad he decided to become a commercial pilot and fly for Piedmont. “I joined Piedmont because they are the airline that had the short line to mainline, American Airlines” he says. “I’m not one who can sit still for long. My quality of life is great, I get to meet new people and experience new places every day.”

Interested in becoming a Piedmont pilot? Learn how you can earn over $180,000 in bonuses as part of our recruitment and retention program.

Next Destination is a Piedmont feature series that highlights our aviation professionals who joined Piedmont after working in a different career field. Piedmont is proud to recognize our team members for their contributions to the success of the airline.