Top flight gig

Name: Stephanie M. Malby
Occupation: Flight engineer
Duties: Assist captain and first officer by monitoring aircraft’s electrical, temperature, pressure and fuel systems
Salary range: $24,000-$75,000
Training: Military aviation background is helpful but not necessary A college degree from an aeronautics school or four-year college degree with a minimum of 1,500 flight hours Malby’s interest in aviation was piqued when her high school physical education teacher, also a private pilot, took some of his students for a flight. “I got to sit in the captain’s seat and that’s when I became hooked.”

While most pilots take the military route to a career in aviation, Malby took the nontraditional, but increasingly popular road. “I was going into the Air Force ROTC, but realized it wasn’t for me,” says the 30-year-old Cleveland native. Instead, she completed a B.S. in aerospace technology at Kent State University in Ohio and earned her instructor’s certificate before becoming a flight trainer.

After graduating in 1991, Malby worked in airport operations, where she scheduled pilots and flights, and increased her flying hours with short training and charter flights. By 1997, she landed a 727 flight engineer position with Northwest Airlines. She will soon take over the “right seat” with an upcoming promotion to first officer.

Depending on the airline, aircraft, required flight hours and availability, it can take five to 15 years to jump from flight engineer to first officer to the captain’s seat. Considering today’s demand for pilots by the military and commuter and commercial airlines that track may be even faster. As airlines increase their fleets with newer planes with two-person cockpits, pilots will come right in as first officers.

For more information contact: The Organization of Black Airline Pilots, 2740 Greenbriar Parkway, Suite A-3128, Atlanta, GA 30331; 800-538-6227; e-mail: aviator@obap.org.

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