Study hard, keep your options open and seek out opportunities to put your education to work. That was the the advice of Continental Airlines pilot Emerson Allen to a classroom full of Vaughn College students on Thursday (Nov. 17).

Invited by the Office of Career Services and Vaughn’s chapter of Women in Aviation International, Allen, a pilot with more than 20 years of experience, shared some of his professional insights with a Vaughn crowd eager to learn more. His message was simple and direct, tinged with anecdotes and altogether well-received.

“Being a pilot is not an easy career; it’s not a career that’s easy on families,” Allen said. “But if you take a poll of people on your street I wonder how many would say, ‘I love what I do.’ ”

Allen studied engineering in college and found his way to a career in aviation. He paid Vaughn a compliment when he told the class: “If I knew about this place when I was in high school I would have enjoyed my college experience more.”

He urged Vaughn students to pay attention to academic details even as they attempt to establish a career path for themselves. “Gain as much experience as you can,” he said, “and remember commercial is not the only way you can fly. There is charter, government and corporate flying.”

Allen admitted the low pay and grinding hours of a novice pilot were a challenge initially; now, he’s more comfortable economically and has earned a more family-friendly schedule. “Of course,” Allen kidded, “by the time you reach a point where you have, say, 20 days off, your kids are fully grown.”


Continental Airlines pilot Emerson Allen chats with Vaughn students on Thursday.