Becoming a professional pilot is something many people dream of as a child. Watching planes taking off and landing, going on your first ever flight lesson, going to airshows. For so many people, their childhood dreams are just that. Dreams. For John Doyon though, it became a lifestyle and career.
John Doyon started off his childhood going to local airports in the Burlington, Vt area and watching planes through the holes in a fence. Today, he is living his dream by flying Embraer E175 regional jets for Republic Airways at the age of 32.
John and his father would attend airshows and go to airports frequently when he was a child. When he turned 15, he went to his local flight school and took his first flight lesson in 2003. Flash forward to 2019 and John has racked up a few thousand hours in his logbook.
Getting to the airlines was not an easy route for John though. Starting his training only two years after the 9/11 terrorist attack, aviation was still taking a huge hit in producing pilots. Pilot jobs weren’t needed and training costs took a hit. Airlines were furloughing pilots by the dozens and finding a pilot job wasn’t easy.
This prompted John to take a seven year break in training and pursue college and life during his young adult years. In 2005, John started his freshman year at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va. In 2010, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, then worked until 2012 when he began studying Professional Pilot Technology at Vermont Tech.
While back in Vermont, John quickly took his skills and started returning them to the community. He became an adjunct professor in 2013 at Vermont Tech, teaching aviation history, crew resource management and human factors. He grew to quickly love what he was teaching and later took that passion and began flight instructing in July of 2016; while he continued to teach aviation history at Vermont Tech until May 2018.
In September 2017, John moved to Richmond, Va to begin flight instructing at HOVA Flight Services until September 2018. In just a year, he managed to get nine students from zero flight training experience all the way to their Private Pilot License. On top of that, John also trained around four to five dozen students in different training phases such as Sport, Private and Commercial licenses.
“One of my favorite aspects of flying has got to be seeing the excitement on my student’s face when they hop out of the airplane from their first solo, shaking and smiling in excitement,” John said. He loved watching the progression of his students, especially when “you see the light bulb click and the student has pure shock and thrill written all over their face. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing you helped get them to that point.”
Something else John has found joy in is organizing aviation events and airshows, and taking kids flying through EAA’s Young Eagles Program. He loves seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the kids, just like he felt when he was one.
John has devoted his life to not only doing what he loves, but to helping others experience that same joy that aviation brings to him. “Going on cross-country flights, sending students on their first solo, watching the thrill in people’s eyes at airshows, all of those make this industry so fun and rewarding,” John said.
John joined Republic Airways in September 2018 as a First Officer on their Embraer E175 regional jet fleet. Upon completion of training, John began his Initial Operating Experience (IOE) in February 2019. Living in Charlottesville, Va and based out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), John is flying around 80-90 hours each month and enjoying every minute of it.
Getting used to the level of automation in the E175 as compared to the flight school planes he’s been training people in for years was a pleasant shock for John. “It was a challenge getting used to the plane, but Republic actually encourages us to hand-fly the plane on VFR days and whenever possible. They really look out for us and want us to stay proficient in our hand-flying skills,” John said.
John said he still loves just going to the airport and watching everything happen. “Watching people between my flights still brings my childhood back. Everyone’s going somewhere and for so many different reasons. It’s amazing just thinking about what aviation can do for people,” said John.
When asked what his goals for his future were, John said he would like to continue working his way up into the airline industry and soon purchase a personal plane for him and his wife. More long-term, he wishes to found a humanitarian non-profit that uses aviation to provide care package and supply flights into areas of need around the world.
Taking supplies into areas of extreme poverty, places that experienced disaster and hardship and other means of getting supplies there aren’t as simple. John has always been the type of person to give back and help others.
John stays fairly active on social media and loves sharing his point of view that many others can’t see. If you’re interested in seeing what his days are like, you can follow him on Instagram by clicking here.
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