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Letting opportunities take flight

After reaching 1,000 flight hours, Ross Pinkard applied to be a First Officer at Piedmont with just 500 hours left to meet the minimum requirement of 1,500 flight hours. Wanting to support Ross and his career path to becoming a pilot, a recruiter shared that it would be beneficial for him to join the Cadet Program while he continued to build his remaining 500 hours.

Piedmont offers the most flexible cadet program in the industry and allows those working towards their flight hours to build their time where they want, when they want. Along the way, cadets earn industry perks, receive bonuses up to $30,000 to help relieve the financial pressure of earning their flight hours, and exclusive access to mentors, events and networking events with Piedmont leaders. Once a pilot is selected for the Cadet program, there is no further interview required and they are on their path to the majors. After securing their 1,500 hours and flying for Piedmont, cadets have a guaranteed flow to American Airlines.

“I had a great experience as a Piedmont Cadet and recommend the program to other pilots,” shares Ross. He was accepted to the Cadet Program in November 2019 with an expected class date of March 2020 just as COVID paused pilot hiring. “I worked hard to reach my 1,500-hour goal and then COVID caused uncertainty in the industry. With that uncertainty came many questions and Brian Dilorenzo, former recruiter, now Manager of Talent Acquisition was there to answer them for me, day or night. Having communication with the recruiters during the pilot hiring pause meant we weren’t forgotten which meant a lot at the time. We were all anxious to hear news on the next available class date.”

Originally from Fort Myers, Florida, Ross is the son of a commercial pilot and wanted to follow his father’s footsteps for as long as he can remember. When he began researching airlines, he was attracted to Piedmont because it is a smaller regional airline. “Flying for a regional airline provides more opportunity to get involved, to get to know the pilot group, and build your resume,” shares Ross. “I didn’t want to be just a number and that has not been the case here at Piedmont. A few days into training, the instructors knew everyone in class and called us by our first names.”

Needing only one interview at the Cadet level to have a guaranteed job with American Airlines was important to Ross. “I’ve encouraged former students of mine to join Piedmont’s Cadet Program for the flow benefit,” he reflects. “They will have a job waiting for them as a Piedmont First Officer when they reach their ATP minimums and flow directly to American with no additional interview.”

Ross joined the first training class after COVID in March 2021 and now as a first officer, having accumulated 700 flight hours in his first year. “I’ve been very happy working for Piedmont,” says Ross proudly. “I was prepared well by the Training department and look forward to upgrading to Captain soon. Starting my career as a Piedmont Cadet was a great decision.”

Since joining Piedmont, Ross was invited to join the Pilot Recruiting team at Sun N Fun, a large air show in Lakeland, Florida. “I enjoyed learning about the pilot recruiting process from a new perspective and find it fascinating,” shares Ross. “I had so many conversations with attendees who wanted to learn more about our company. My best tool for recruitment is sharing my own positive experience.” In addition to flying the line, Ross is also an observer for Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) where he observes crews and collects data.

Ross is thankful for the opportunities he has had so far at Piedmont. “Working for a regional airline has allowed me to become a LOSA observer and participate at recruiting events which would likely not be occurring if I worked for a larger airline.”

Piedmont is hiring Cadets and offering a $30,000 bonus. Interested in learning more about becoming a Piedmont Cadet and how Piedmont can prepare you for your aviation career? Click here.