Introduction to Aviation

No, don’t worry; this isn’t a post filled with technical jargon on aviation. Since Parkland has taken over the Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois, and now launched this blog, I thought I might bring the world of pilot training a little closer to home for the Average Joe–or Jane. I’ll start with a bit of my background.

Sybil Phillips, Director and Chief Pilot of the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois
Sybil Phillips, Director and Chief Pilot of the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois

Why did I become a pilot? As a kid, I remember walking through the pasture on the farm where I grew up and when I heard an airplane fly overhead, I wondered about two things. What does the world look like from the pilot’s perspective? Where is that airplane going?

I thought that learning to be a pilot would require skills that were beyond my ability and would remain a dream. But then my sister took an aviation class and I thought, “if she can do it, so can I.”

Fast forward to college when I enrolled in Aviation 101 at the University of Illinois. I was hooked. I get to see the world from the pilot’s perspective now and it is really cool. I love the challenge of flying an airplane with precision and finesse because there’s always room for improvement.

I’ve learned lessons that not only apply to the flight environment but also translate to everyday life. Pilots develop self-confidence as a result of exercising judgment and making decisions in an environment which is sometimes tense. We learn to set priorities and communicate clearly under pressure. Aviators are disciplined and eager to assume responsibility. Deep down, we are all control freaks. But we have to be in order to operate safely.

Where did flying take me? I became a flight instructor and eventually became the Chief Pilot and every day I get to help others realize their dream of becoming a pilot. I work with great people and have gotten to know hundreds of pilots who fly all over the world. As corny as it sounds, I am living the dream.

What about you? Is aviation part of your dream? Visit our web page to learn more about our programs, and/or leave a comment below with questions you have about becoming a pilot.

3 thoughts on “Introduction to Aviation”

  1. Great blog, Sybil! I hope all students enrolled and considering in enrolling in the Institute realize that it’s among the premier flight training organizations in the country. An Institute grad will truly be prepared with a top-quality skillset for a flying career. I know — I’m one of them! I’m thankful for the training I received there.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Steve. We have all benefited from the great educational experience that was there long before I arrived on the scene.

  3. Sybil’s comments remind me of how I came to be at the Institute. Although I have been surrounded by aviation my entire life, my goal early on was to become a medical doctor. What changed that? One flight with my brother and the flying bug had bit! By my senior year in high school I was a private pilot searching for a good school to continue my flying aspirations. Long story short, my dad (Marine Corps fighter pilot, Ozark Captain) said he thought the Institute grads he had crewed with at Ozark Airlines were some of the best pilots he had seen. That was enough for me. I had to check it out for myself. He was right! The quality of instruction, high level of standardization among instructors and check pilots, and the atmosphere of the organization impressed me to the point that I changed my career path once again. I’m now at 23 years as a flight instructor and check pilot at the Institute! I truly believe that the Institute of Aviation is the model for how to run a successful flight education program. Naturally, a large share of the credit goes to Sybil’s, as well as her predecessor’s (Rick and Omer) superb management of the program over many years.

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