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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mathew Coombs

Friday Fabulous Flyer

Barcelona to Atlanta was not unlike any other flight… but this particular day we had a hitchhiker in the flight deck— Mathew Coombs.

How sweet is it to be twenty-eight years old and jet off to Europe to play with friends in Southern France and Spain, drink great beer and wine, eat the best meals and then fly back home in the best seat in the house—the Flight Deck. Okay, maybe he would have preferred a First Class seat, but it was fun getting to know Matt. Matt is definitely enjoying the life of an airline pilot.

Unlike those aviation enthusiasts who tell me they were born to fly, and that passion made them do it— Matt has a different story. Because his Grandpa flew the B-25 in WWII, and ended up retiring as a Captain at United, Matt was introduced to the lifestyle of a pilot. And he liked what he saw. There were also travel benefits, that apparently he’s taking advantage of. He also believes aviation is still a respected profession. So Matt made a career choice and headed off to Purdue.

For anyone looking for an aviation university, I would recommend checking out Purdue. Matt started in 2001, and he tells me his first flight was on 9/11. What a day to take to the sky for the first time. But the ensuing tragedy didn't stop him. He majored in Aviation Technology, and left with 350 hours of flight time along with his four-year degree.

Purdue Aviation

The cool thing is, since Purdue is a State school, he paid instate tuition. There was an additional fee for the flying portion, but I was amazed at the program they offered for the price. In addition Matt had access to a 727 simulator as Purdue is training their pilots how to fly jets too. The students also get ten hours in a King Air. This is some really good experience for low time pilots.

After graduation, Matt earned his instructor’s rating and did some flight instructing at Schaumburg Airport for about a year. He worked for Tran States for about 500 hundred hours, and then moved on to fly for Chautauqua in May 2007, where he's currently flying as a first officer on the Embraer RJ145.

Chautauqua is a regional airline and a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings. They’re a feeder for many of the major U.S. airlines. Matt has been there for ten years, and has about 5500 hours. I asked him if he were flying as a Captain—He told me he was about 400 numbers away. But he’s not disappointed. He actually has a great attitude with his position, and is enjoying life...

Matt tells me that the mergers put a stop for about five years to rapid growth. He said, “In hindsight it’s nice not to be an 18- month captain. It’s easy now. I’m gaining a lot of experiences that will make me a better captain.” He’s in no rush, but he does have a five-year plan to upgrade or move to a major airline.

When I asked Matt what his key to success was, he said, “One key to success … know people.” I’m not surprised he’d said that because when he was telling me about his various jobs he’d mentioned, All my jobs came through friends.”

It was an exhausting flight, and I'm not sure if it was the interview that wiped Matt out, or his previous couple weeks of play time... but it was nice to bring him back to the U.S.

Matt, I hope the remainder of your journey home was successful. Fly safe and keep enjoying life. Continue to make smart investments. Remember… a pair of Aces causes more grief than out for those going fishing.

As a side note, Matt is going to make a great captain. He approaches life logically, plans ahead, makes smart decisions, and isn't rushing anything. He knows he'll get there, and he's right. He will retire as a senior captain from a major airline one day, and he is using this time in his life to gain experience and enjoy his life.

If you want to say hi to Matt on Twitter, you can find him @Remove_b4flyin

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. D.B. said...

    I was on that same BCN - ATL flight back in February (I go every February on business). When I fly Delta long haul now, I always listen to who is doing the flying. One day you might get a note from the back saying "Hi from "DB"!"

    Matt sounds like he is having a fun life! Good for him. November 4, 2011 6:49 AM

  2. D.B. YES... I hope you send that note up. I had to re-post your comment because blogger was acting weird this morning. Thanks for saying Hi. And... looking forward to that note in the flight deck.

  3. What a good story about taking it one smart step at a time. Purdue sounds fantastic for people with aviation aspirations--I had no idea. Congrats to Matt on what looks like a great career shaping up.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing wonderful story. I really like his idea. without friends,we cannot grow up,and I also believe that.
    Have a great day,Karlene san!!

  5. Glad to see a post about another Republic guy! I think you have a great attitude about it considering the conditions there. I understand you are voting to strike now, and I wish you the best in improving the work rules for all of the great people over there. Really neat family history, I hope to fly with you one day.

  6. This young fellow will make a fine captain when his time comes. If a Major is his thing, I hpe he moves soon. Best wishes to Matt. -Craig

  7. A very inspiring story great aspiring career to pursue. Keep more aspiring stories of aviation. Bravo........

  8. Thank you Faith! You keep inspiring too!

  9. So true, it's often all about who you know. The best opportunities in life often come from friends. :) Great heads up tip on Purdue too! Best of luck to Matt!

  10. Wonderful story about inspiration, Karlene. Sounds like Matt has chosen a wonderful path in life. Good luck, Matt.

  11. I would take a flight deck seat over first class any day. Matt seems like an awesome person. I hope it won't be too long before I get to talk to both of you on the other side of the radio. :)

  12. Heather, Thanks for your comment. I know that Matt appreciates it!

  13. Angela, Thank you so much for your inspiration. I love to see your smiling face when you comment. Makes me smile too.

  14. Christine, it won't take long. Soon we will be talking on that radio. Looking forward to flying with you.

  15. I can't get his twitter handle to work

  16. the twitter handle is remove_b4_flyin

    note the second underscore

    and as a correction I have only been at CHQ for 4 years in Aviation for 10

    Thanks to Karlene and the great crew for helping me get back to the States!!

  17. Thanks for all the great comments!

  18. Thanks for the correction Matthew. My notes were hard to read time removed ... and my memory, well, you fatigue factor setting in. You are so welcome for the ride! Glad we could help.

  19. Matt is one of my fiance and I's closest college friends from Purdue. I am very thankful you created this feature on him! I know he enjoys the good life traveling and I'm fortunate that he can come to San Francisco to visit us easily. Keep up the great feature articles and best of luck to Matt!

  20. Hi Alexis, Thanks so much for the great comment. He's lucky not only to be able to travel, but have great friends like yourself.


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