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Setting the example and inspiring young aviators

By age 17, First Officer Courtland Savage had graduated early from high school, obtained his private pilot license, and welcomed his first child into the world. Successfully supporting his son was Courtland’s priority and motivation to pursue a career as a pilot. From his military service to earning his bachelor’s degree and commercial pilot license, Courtland has exceled in his aviation career on and off the runway. Through his non-profit organization, Fly for the Culture, Courtland recognizes the importance of expanding diversity within the aviation industry and is instrumental in inspiring the next generation of aviators.

While Courtland was building flight hours, he took young children in his family along for plane rides and discovery flights which led to requests from non-family members’ children to have the chance to experience flight. Courtland saw an opportunity to show children who may see the lack in diversity among pilots as a barrier, that they can become pilots, too. In 2018, he launched Fly for the Culture, a non-profit organization that creates an inclusive culture to encourage children that a pilot career is within reach for everyone.

“I’m thankful for parents who supported my aviation journey, but some children do not have the same kind of support at home,” shares Courtland. “For those children who may not have a parent or parents at home or who lack that type of mentorship, I wanted to create an organization that provides encouragement and resources to make their dream a reality. I want the kids to know they can still be something great even if they don’t have parental support in their life.”

Originally from Mount Holly, North Carolina, after graduating high school, Courtland served in the United States Air Force where he was a crew chief on C-17 aircraft. After a few years, he joined the Navy and flew F-18 fighter jets. While serving, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle University. Upon completing his military service, he became a commercial pilot for GoJet Airlines as a first officer. Courtland was introduced to Piedmont Airlines, when he was asked to speak about his non-profit to members of the Black Professionals Network Employee Resource Group (ERG). This speaking engagement led Piedmont to sponsor a few young aviators from Fly for the Culture, to attend the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. With the support and engagement with Piedmont and the uncertainty of the aviation industry during COVID, Courtland left GoJet and joined Piedmont in 2021. With Piedmont’s fastest flow and quickest upgrade program, he is on track to become a Captain later this year.

Courtland has much to be proud of. He shares that his oldest son loves aviation and aspires to fly airplanes like his Dad. Since its creation, Fly for the Culture grew quickly after Courtland appeared on several national television networks talking about his organization and the strides he is making. He says once word got out, he received multiple requests for introductory flights from kids and families of all diverse backgrounds. He is proud to share that the organization has awarded scholarships and flown over 200 discovery flights for children in the Charlotte, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Florida areas.

“I feel like I have succeeded in a career where I can be a good example to my two children and share my skills and knowledge with other children to encourage their aviation path,” shares Courtland proudly. “I look forward to seeing Fly for the Culture grow and continuing to inspire young aviators. Most importantly, I want to help my children and those I mentor succeed in life.”

Piedmont offers industry-leading pay and enhanced quality of life benefits that allows pilots like Courtland to make a difference on and off the runway. Learn more here.