Through resilience dedication and discipline, United StatesNavy veteran Aaron Hepps turned his dream of becoming an airline pilot into a reality. There is one thing that rings true for almost every pilot we speak with and that is an intense feelingthere is no place they’d rather be than in the air soaring above the clouds. From a young Hepps dreamt of becoming an airline pilot. Flying was the most mesmerizing part of family vacations for him. As a child he was fascinated by everything aviation from the airport to the aircraft, the hundreds of moving parts, to the flight itself. “I always had the dream of being an airline pilot but did not think I had the knowledge or ability to achieve”.
Hepps’ dream took a back seat when he found the calling to work in the medical field “My career was not always aviation and started within the medical industry. My first job in the field was on the neonatal intensive care unit a tech and then moving to a high-volume emergency room” Says Hepps. As a Navy corpsman (combat medic), he was assigned to a Marine infantry unit in Afghanistan and served two tours. Excelling in whatever comes in his path, Hepps became an instructor after completing his Master Training Specialist Certificate and was transferred to Hawaii where he supervised the Human Services Department for the only Naval Health Clinic.
While in Hawaii, the aviation bug kept biting him. After leaving the Navy Hepps was an executive for the American Heart Association training center where he oversaw training for Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and California. He recalls outgrowing that position and made the decision to finally make his dream of flying professionally a reality. While still in Hawaii Hepps earned his private pilot certificate and was accepted to California Aeronautical University. He graduated in 2017 with his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics degree, having earned an instrument rating, commercial single- multi-engine rating and flight instructor certificates with instrument. Hepps is now employed with Envoy Airlines as a First Officer. “Training for the airlines was an all-day, everyday job. The airlines training programs are highly developed and proven.” Coming from a military background, he appreciated the need to be present, coachable, approachable and willingness to follow directives in training. This paid off greatly for Hepps as just recently he interviewed and was selected as a pilot for Delta Airlines with pending start date.
Hepps still has ties to CAU where he serves as the Alumni President. With more than 5,000 hours volunteered to various causes, whether he admits it or not, his secondary passion is mentoring others and giving back. When asked what advice he has for future professional pilots, it was simple and to the point.
- Study what you are told when you are told in your training. CAU, much like the airlines, has a tried and tested program.Many have been successful, and your success is all but guaranteed if you just follow the guidance of the teaching institution.
- Dedicate your time in the training environment to your studies.If you want to become an airline pilot, forget the “college experience”, as this program will leave you behind if you do not fully dedicate yourself.
California Aeronautical University
California Aeronautical University (CAU) is preparing the next generation of aviation professionals. Serving students from all over the country, the University offers career-focused programs in aviation, aviation business, and aircraft maintenance. With on-airport locations throughout California and in Arizona that provide an ideal learning environment, CAU courses are delivered in a year-round, fast-paced schedule that enables students to enter the pipeline for aviation careers in a shorter amount of time. Through the University’s strong partnerships with airlines, influential aviation organizations, and leaders in the aviation community, CAU graduates become a part of a larger aviation network and reap the benefits of these relationships, including direct access to several airline cadet programs. The University offers access federal student financial aid, scholarships, and veteran benefits to those who qualify. For more information, visit calaero.edu.