Paying It Forward – Cody Helton’s Ascent to Becoming a Professional Pilot
He’s been preparing for this moment for most of his life. Since the young age of 3, Cody Helton knew he was going to become an airline pilot. Late one summer day when he was only 7 years old, Cody’s parents took him to a local airport to watch students practice touch-n-go’s, and a flight instructor by the name of Rusty Bogue noticed Cody’s excitement. After clearing it with Cody’s parents, Rusty sat young Cody atop a stack of phone books and took him up for his first flight in a Cessna 172. He was hooked.
Over the course of the next few years, Rusty took Cody flying every time he earned a good report card, building up close to 10 hours of flight time before his 12th birthday. Rusty passed away unexpectedly last year, making Cody even more determined to live out the dreams that he and Rusty talked about for many years. In the summer of 2015, Cody formally started flight training and completed his first solo in less than 10 hours. After intense and dedicated training and studying, he completed his Private Pilot certificate, bringing him one step closer to making his dream a reality.
He’s known for some time that the next step in his flight training journey would need to be professional pilot training at an accredited flight school. Having grown up in the Central Florida area, Cody learned about L3 Airline Academy through a colleague who is a flight instructor there, and he decided to stop by for a discovery flight to learn whether the school would be a good fit for him. It didn’t take long for him to realize he’d found the right place.
Like many graduating high school seniors, Cody started to feel the pressure of looming student loan debt. He decided to apply for L3 Airline Academy ‘s High School Senior Merit Scholarship – the first of its kind for L3 Airline Academy and in the professional pilot training industry. Upon learning he was one of only two students selected for the scholarship, Cody was overjoyed.
“Receiving this scholarship means that I can pursue my lifelong passion for becoming a professional pilot,” Cody said. “I’ve worked really hard to get here, so it was very rewarding to have that hard work recognized.”
Cody’s home in Oviedo, Fla. is only about 20 minutes away from L3 Airline Academy , so he’ll be able to use the entire scholarship toward academic pursuits. As to what he’s most excited for when he enters the program in August, Cody said he’s ready for the structure of the program.
“Up until now, I’ve been mostly training with people who are learning how to fly as a hobby and not as a career. At Aerosim, I’ll be surrounded by people with the common pursuit of becoming career pilots. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from everyone around me,” he said.
And beyond becoming a pilot, Cody has a secondary goal. Much like how Rusty took Cody under his wing and mentored him, Cody wants to do the same for those who are younger than him and want to get a head-start in aviation.
“As I have grown older and earned my own pilot certificate, I now understand how profound an influence my mentors had on me, not only on my aviation education, but in showing me the importance of being a good teacher and mentor to others who are interested in flying. As a certified flight instructor, I could lead students to their goals, not only contributing to the industry, but furthering my abilities to be a leader in an aviation environment.”