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Taking the path less traveled to follow a dream

Many pilots take the route of building flight time by flight instructing but First Officer Jake Reed wasn’t interested in becoming a flight instructor and wanted to build his hours when and where it was convenient for him. Piedmont Airlines Cadet Program appealed to Jake because in their program, Cadets are not required to be a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and they have the flexibility to build his hours where and when they want.

“I didn’t want to take the traditional route of flight instructing to build hours and instead wanted to explore real world flying situations all over the United States which I could accomplish as a Piedmont Cadet,” said Jake. “While building hours, I flew different aircraft in and out of busy airports, had interactions with passengers, flew time restricted flights and navigated through all types of weather. Having the opportunity to fly different aircraft and learn different systems helped me grow as a pilot and better prepared me to fly for Piedmont.”

Jake shares that only having one interview before joining Piedmont and flowing to American was a great benefit of the program. “Other Cadet programs I researched required an additional interview before flowing from a regional carrier to mainline. As a Cadet, I felt like part of the Piedmont family.”

No stranger to taking the path less traveled to meet his goal, prior to joining the Cadet Program, Jake was fortunate to strike a deal with his long-term flight instructor to work at his private airstrip in exchange for flight instruction. “For every hour of flight training I received, I worked for two hours detailing his personal airplanes, cars, and taking care of the grass runway, which I did for three years.” Jake later gained the required flight time to be admitted into a Piedmont Flight Training class by flying PC-12s for private owners.

Jake was courted by a different regional carrier but ultimately decided to join Piedmont’s Cadet Program because of the flexibility and reputation of the Flight Training department. “As a Cadet, my requirement was to fly a minimum of 80 hours every month. I didn’t have to move near a flight school or change my lifestyle much to progress in building my hours.” Friends of Jake’s who are former Piedmont pilots shared the positive reputation that Piedmont’s Flight Training department has and encouraged him to join Piedmont’s Cadet Program. “Everything they said was true, my training was fantastic,” he shares proudly.

As a Cadet, Jake shares that Piedmont was proactive in staying a step ahead, “the recruiters weren’t waiting for us to drag our feet to the finish line, they supported us in building flight time.” Even through the pandemic, Jake says his recruiter, Brian DiLorenzo held regular virtual meetings and reassured Cadets throughout the uncertain time that their positions with Piedmont were safe. “Brian reached out to every Cadet individually to keep in touch and was very responsive to our questions. I felt confident that my position was still safe with Piedmont.”

Under Piedmont’s new Cadet Program, qualified pilots receive a $22,500 bonus and have the fastest path to American Airlines. Cadets may build hours any way they wish, and are not locked in to a partner school. To learn more, click here.