Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Many Roads To Aviation

Real pilot stories show how passion and dedication equal flight-training success

University Flight Training Program
Ashley Ogden grew up in the shadows of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. She knew from an early age that she wanted to be an astronaut. Her passion was helped along by her dad who sensed that his daughter was serious about aviation. Ogden was able to attend space camp in Huntsville, Ala., and her teen years were filled with trips to air museums, air shows and one particular performance by air show great Patty Wagstaff. “She was just amazing,” says Ogden.

A ride with her cousin in a Piper Seminole cemented her desire to learn to fly. Ogden set her sights on Embry-Riddle Aviation University—an option that was expensive for her family. She excelled at sports and thought that sports might help in her educational quest. Like something out of a novel, Ogden was scouted by an Embry-Riddle soccer coach in high school. She won a soccer scholarship to the university.

Ogden fell in love with aerobatics at Embry-Riddle, flying Super Decathlons and a Pitts S2B on her own dime. She did well enough that she took first place in the beginner category at her first competition. Ogden worked as a “ramp rat” with a regional airline, working baggage handling and every other ground position for the airline. After graduating from Embry-Riddle, Ogden went looking for adventure and found it instructing at two large FBOs.

Ogden was hired by Air Wisconsin, and later by Comair, flying regional jets. “I would go out and load bags when the guys got busy,” says Ogden, “because I knew what it was like.”

Furloughed by Comair recently, Ogden chose to go back to her first love: instructing. She’s now a full-time instructor at famed Sunrise Aviation in Southern California, where teaching aerobatics is next on her list. “Maybe this is where I’m supposed to be,” she finishes, “helping people through my own passion for aerobatics and flying.”

Cessna Pilot Centers
“I was 15 years old in Iowa City,” says Julie Filucci, “and I was learning to fly.” She had been encouraged by a family friend who was also a pilot. Her parents agreed, so Filucci started her flight training in a Cessna 150 at Green Castle Airport, with its 2,300x30-foot runway, and an “old-style” FBO run by Don Nelson and his wife. “Don was nurturing and taught me really good stick-and-rudder basics,” says Filucci. The FBO had been a Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) during its initial years, but had slipped out of the program.

Filucci studied from the “red” Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) manual, and though she failed her knowledge test the first time, she earned her private certificate while in high school, then began instrument training after graduating. Filucci took a year off from flying and transferred to the University of Boulder after a year at the University of Iowa, where she finished with her commercial and CFI ratings by the time she graduated from college and worked the desk at an FBO, where she later worked as a flight instructor for three years. “I knew aviation would be a part of my life,” she says.

After working for three years at Jeppesen and eight years at AOPA, Filucci was brought in by Cessna to take a look at the state of their Cessna Pilot Center schools, and to help create a “next-gen” training system. Filucci did just that, and helped to launch an online learning management system, a FITS-based structured syllabus and a home-study course developed by King Schools. Today, Cessna Pilot Centers offer scenario-based training with a military-inspired training curriculum, and Filucci played a prominent part in that. She works and flies for Cessna as manager of Cessna Pilot Centers.


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