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Lipps (Labrat28)

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I am a forty-six year old, single father of three, commercial pilot and certified flight instructor.  I was born and raised in Central Florida and still live here today.  I have two grown step-sons and a daughter in the fifth grade.  After high school I started at the local community college because it was close and less expensive.  After two weeks of my new college endeavor, I skipped a class one day and went to see a friend that had graduated the year before me.  During my senior year, he got his State Firefighter Certification, but without an EMT certification he was not getting any job offers.  He had grown up the son of a 20 year NAVY vetran.  Therefore, he was considering the idea of enlisting as a firefighter in the Air Force.  During a four year enlistment he would be able to obtain his EMT certification.  Since I had skipped class he talked me into going to talk to the Air Force recruiter.  Long story - short, I enlisted in the Air Force and he got a job (not requiring an EMT) as a firefighter for a nearby county fire service.  By then I was in the Air Force delayed entry program with a scheduled enlistment date the guarenteed job I wanted.  I wanted to be an automotive mechanic in the USAF and if I got out after four years I could get a job.  However, my mom said "No, anyone can become a car mechanic."  So, I enlisted with a guaranteed job as a jet engine mechanic.  My first day of enlistment…April fool’s Day.  After basic training, technical school and waiting six months in delayed entry for my guaranteed jet engine mechanic job…finally I arrived at my first duty station were I was assinged...to work on the stands the jet engines set upon.  It was called stand maintenance and my recruiter never mentioned working on stands.  Not that everyone starts there, it was just my luck.  I did that job with pride, learned a lot and did enjoy the experience.   After a year and some finagling from my NCOIC, I traded positions with someone in the engine shop.  I was now a jet engine mechanic, actually turning wrenches on jet engines, and standing on the stands I use to work on.  Our base got the new B-1B bomber and jet engine mechanic jobs were rumored to be "frozen".  This meant that jet engine mechanics were not getting orders away from this base.  Some friends and I, in an attempt to get orders to another base, decided to change our preferred location sheets (dream sheets).  An easy decision for me since I did not want to stay at the same base my entire enlistment.  Exactly one week later, I had orders to Keflavik, Iceland.  I was going to work on the F-15 and I was very excited.  After a few hours on the job in Iceland, I could tell, this is what I expected the Air Force to be.  I really enjoyed Iceland and when I found out that as a second crew chief my name was on the side of an F-15, I was planning on re-enlisting for another four years.  A Russian pilot might have read MY name on the side of that F-15.  How cool is that?  Short version is...I left the Air Force knowing that without an FAA mechanic license it would be difficult to get a job as a jet engine mechanic.  So my plan was to use my G.I. Bill benefits and I could go to school and become an engineer and not a mechanic.  I worked odd jobs for a few years after the Air Force.  Then in 1995 I left a full-time job and entered college full-time using my G.I. Bill benefits.  In 1998 I had my AA degree and transferred to UCF.  Unable (not wanting?) to commit on a major, I got a job working as a commercial baggage handler at a flight services company.  After a large organizational change in the company my manager offered me a new position as the fuel quality control supervisor.  And a year later, not seeing futer career potential, I decided to explore my dream of being a commercial pilot.  I quit the QC job and started flight training full-time.  I finally achieved my commercial pilot license with a flight school in 2005.  Not wanting to teach as a flight instructor to build my flight hours, I attempted to tow banners, without success.  At the end of my rope, I went for all three flight instructor licenses with a large flight school.  On my initial CFI check ride, after the oral portion, I can remember waiting for the weather to get better.  While waiting I was thinking to myself, if I don’t pass I will need to stop flying and get a job.  Well, lucky for you and me, I passed that check ride.  In fact, I passed all three instructor check rides and thus began my career as a flight instructor.  With the economic downturn in 2008 I ended up instructing, longer than usual, for almost seven years.  I enjoyed instructing way more than I thought was even possible for me.  I also think I was able to do a fairly good job of teaching as well.  I have also worked for an air cargo company as a commercial line pilot.  And today, I am exploring the idea of writing a book.

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