TJ comes to Paul Kramer’s Learn to Fly Center with not only thirty-four years of flying from American Airlines, but also five years with the United States Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Originally from Boston, TJ enlisted in the Navy with a role in air intelligence, but shortly after arriving to Pensacola, Florida, his commanding officers suggested that change from a ground position to flight training. After the Navy, TJ began to fly and instruct for American Airlines. This eventually landed him in South Florida based in Miami.
With approximately twenty-two thousand flight hours logged, TJ wanted to pass on his many years of aviation knowledge. He selected PKLTFC because of its unique approach to the art of flight instruction, combining the practical with the passion for flight.
Get to know TJ through a Q&A
You have flown the DC6, 727, and 767 with American Airlines. Which airplane do you consider the most interesting and why?
I love anything Boeing. I say, “If it ain’t Boeing, I’m not going.” They are just beautiful airplanes. And, they actually fly like airplanes. In Boeings, you can manually do everything. Now, there’s too much automation. That’s one of the reasons I’m interested in instruction. We still need each and every pilot to know the basics and well.
What do you enjoy most about being an instructor?
I love it when the light bulb comes on. It is my true motivation. I’m not there to show off my skills. I’m there to see the students grin.
Who is your hero in aviation?
Ernie Gann is my hero. I loved his many books about flying, The High and Mighty and Fate Is the Hunter. It just so happens that he was an American Airlines pilot as well. It was a thrill to not only meet him, but also work with him while I was based in New York for American.
What do you do in your spare time?
I volunteer twice a month at the Miami International Airport (MIA) at its US Services Lounge. As a veteran, I help enlisted military at the airport with their paperwork, troubleshooting any issues, and making their journey to their next stationed duty as pleasant as possible. I’ve been in their shoes, a little coffee, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable place to relax is greatly appreciated.