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A holiday gift: Two generations of aviators

With only 18 months left before retirement, Captain David Nawrocki was grateful to have an opportunity to fly a Piedmont Embraer 145 with his son in the flight deck, First Officer Joshua Nawrocki. The duo started their memorable four-day trip together in Charlotte and flew up and down the East coast a few weeks before Christmas. Being based in different cities made it a challenge for the pair, but when everything fell into place, both said it was an experience they would never forget and the best holiday gift.

Just outside of Hamilton, New York was a small airport next to Dave’s grandparents’ business where he took his first flight at age six with his father. “After that flight, I was hooked and knew I wanted to fly,” says Dave proudly. His father encouraged him to taking flying lessons in high school and he took his first solo flight on the fourth of July in 1976. A year later he obtained his private pilot license and went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in Air Commerce Flight Technology from Florida Institute of Technology. At the time of graduation, pilot jobs were scarce, so he decided to become a Certified Flight Instructor at Princeton Airport in New Jersey to build flight hours. After two years and obtaining his required hours, he briefly worked as a first officer at Wings Airways where he upgraded to captain before joining Pennsylvania Airlines in 1989. With Pennsylvania Airlines merging with Allegheny Airlines, and Allegheny merging with Piedmont, Dave has flown Beechcraft 1900s, deHavilland Dash-8s and Embraer 145s in his career.

“When Josh was born, I was working as a commercial pilot,” says Dave. “He was the child always asking his mother when I was coming home and now, he has followed in my footsteps,” Dave recalls fondly. Josh recalls wanting to be a pilot as far back as he can remember. Some of his earliest memories are going to the Binghamton Airport hangar with his father. They also used to build and fly model airplanes together.

Like his father, Josh also attended The Florida Institute of Technology and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management. When he graduated in 2011, pilot jobs were limited. After a few years working other jobs, Josh obtained his Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate and instructed for two years before joining Piedmont in January 2019.

Josh says he joined Piedmont for many reasons. “Having my dad work here for so many years, I had the inside scoop on what to expect as a Piedmont pilot,” he says jokingly. He also says the direct flow to American Airlines was a bonus and the nearby base of Philadelphia was attractive.

Reflecting back Josh echoed his father’s sentiment that it was an unforgettable experience being in the flight deck with his Dad. “I’d only flown with him one other time when I was flight instructing so having him sit next to me as the captain was pretty cool,” shares Josh. “I’d love to be able to fly with him again, but I’ll be upgrading soon, and he retires in a year and a half. I will always treasure the experience.”

Looking to secure your future in the flight deck? Come join Piedmont’s Flight team, we are actively hiring for First Officers and Direct Entry Captains. If you don’t have your hours yet, check out our Cadet program. Learn more about our guaranteed flow program to American Airlines and let your career take flight by visiting our Pilot Careers page.