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From Passenger to Copilot

by Joel Pierce

Imagine flying along in the passenger seat of an aircraft, enjoying the beautiful blue sky. Suddenly, your pilot’s health takes a downward turn, to the point where he’s unable to safely fly the aircraft. Would you rather feel like a passenger or a copilot?

feature_intro_1Wouldn’t it be great to take the flight controls with some sense of confidence that you’d be able to get the wheels back on terra firma in a safe fashion? AOPA created an online course call the Pinch Hitter. I highly recommend that every pilot encourage their frequent-flyer passengers to go through this course. Statistics indicate that only 0.5 percent of all accidents are due to pilot incapacitation. However, there are multiple true stories of passengers with some level of flight experience being able to save the day when their pilot needed them to do so. The AOPA online course will help provide some knowledge, but is there anything better than climbing into the aircraft with a certified flight instructor, grasping the flight controls, and actually flying the aircraft?


Here at Sweet Aviation, we’d love to provide that training for you and/or your friends and family. We’re also more than happy to fly with someone in their own aircraft. For example, if you own your own aircraft and would like for us to provide a flight instructor to help your passengers become more like copilots, please let us know. Within an hour or two of ground and flight instruction, an individual should be able to greatly increase their odds of being able to guide an aircraft safely down onto a runway. It seems to me like that would be time and money well worth spending. Give me a call or send me an e-mail to schedule a time to go flying.

Joel Pierce

General Manager & Chief Flight Instructor

A fan of flight ever since childhood, Joel earned his private pilot certificate in September 2002. In 2003, he attended the International ALERT Academy, where he obtained his instrument rating along with his commercial and flight instructor certificates. After graduating, he joined the ALERT faculty as a flight instructor and an assistant department manager. During this time, Joel met his wife, Laura. They married in 2006 and now have two children. In 2008, Joel became the flight operations director for Smith Field Air Service and now leads the staff at Sweet Aviation. Joel has over 5,000 hours of flight instruction and is driven by a passion for helping customers achieve their dreams. Joel is type rated in Sweet Aviation’s Cirrus Vision Jet, certified to fly a customer’s T-28, able to go fly some aerobatic maneuvers in the Super Decathlon, and on top of all this, he gets to share his intense passion for flying with so many other aviation enthusiasts in the Fort Wayne area.

Sweet Aviation is proud to be a member of the Sweet Family of Companies.