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Supporting a successful pilot career, every leg of the journey

At the age of 40, First Officer Richard Precop worried that his window to fulfill a childhood dream of flying had passed until he found motivation and encouragement from the right flight school and the right airline. From starting his journey as a Piedmont Ambassador at California Aeronautical University, becoming a Piedmont Cadet and now First Officer, Richard never gave up on his goal. “In my experience, I’ve found that when you find a company that embraces what is important to you, you will thrive in that company,” shares Richard. “For me, that company is Piedmont.”

As a child, Richard had dreams of flying but thought there was no possible way to pursue it. After a successful career working for a tech company, a conversation with a co-worker reignited his passion to becoming a commercial pilot. “A co-worker asked me if I could do any career, what would it be,” shares Richard. “I told him I wanted to be a pilot but was worried that I was too old to be considered by an airline and didn’t have the financial means. At a local air show, I decided to talk with flight schools including California Aeronautical University (CAU) where I ended up attending.”

At CAU, airline recruiters often visited the campus. At one such event, Richard spoke to a Piedmont recruiter. “The recruiter loved working for Piedmont and shared that since Piedmont was a regional airline, there was a smaller pilot group which is what I was looking for.” Not yet at 500 hours of flight time, Richard emailed the Piedmont recruiter and asked if they were looking for a Piedmont Ambassador at CAU. “Being a Piedmont Ambassador gave me focus as I continued flight training with a goal to become a Cadet. The recruiter told me I still had a lot of good flying that I can do at my age which was motivating.”

As an ambassador, Richard shared why he chose Piedmont with his fellow students and happily answered questions about the company alongside recruiters at recruiting events. “I was able to talk about flying, going to school and Piedmont Airlines. I got to share my passion for this great industry and great company and was excited about that.”

After reaching 500 hours of flight time, Richard applied to be a Piedmont Cadet while still attending CAU. “As a Cadet, I observed students in my class and identified those who I could see myself spending a day with inside the flight deck.”

As a Cadet during the COVID pandemic, Richard appreciated the care that recruiters showed by keeping the Cadets apprised on pilot programs through regular touch base calls. “I felt that the recruiters actually cared about my success and that I wasn’t just a number.”

Richard obtained his bachelor’s degree in Science and Aeronautics from CAU, moved to Philadelphia and became a First Officer with Piedmont in June 2023. “I love that I get to fly all the time,” shares Richard. “I have to remind myself that I’m at work because it doesn’t feel like work.” Richard knows our customers are counting on him and the crew to get them to their destination safely and doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. “I may work odd hours and holidays but at the end of the day, I’m taking care of people on their journey.”

For those considering the path to pilot, Richard says don’t wait; start talking to other pilots as soon as you can. “They can share their experience with you and in turn, you can learn so much from them.” When looking for an airline, Richard recommends asking yourself if the airline aligns with what is important to you.

At Piedmont our values of caring, compliance, communication and community is instilled in each of the team members we hire and something we look for in the next generation of aviators.

Looking to up gauge your career? Learn more about the pathways and resources Piedmont has available to pilots here.