The RADAR
Preston Wulfenstein

Spotlight on Alumni: Preston Wulfenstein

Preston Wulfenstein
Pilot at Pentastar Aviation

Describe one of your typical workdays.

A typical work day begins by putting on the uniform and going over to the Indianapolis International Airport where we pick up the aircraft from the hangar. While in the hangar, we update our EFB’s (iPads), assess the weather and file the flight plans for the day (typically 3 legs). We then taxi over to the airline terminal. We touch base with the gate agent, and see how many people are scheduled for the flight and if they have any special needs. One of us (pilots) will assist the passengers with their bags and boarding the aircraft as the other pilot gets “clearance” (flight route and squak code) and enters the flight plan into the aircraft FMS (Flight Management System). After the safety brief is completed, all passengers are seated and buckled, we will taxi out for take off. We do this two more times and go home.

How many hours do you work in a typical week?

Honestly, If I averaged it out for the last 2 months—I work an average of 5 hours per week. ( I worked 5 days in November, and 4 days in December).

What parts of your job do you find to be professionally challenging?

The most challenging thing about my job is making sure that you don’t give into complacency. You have to keep studying.

What do find most enjoyable?

The people. The pilots, gate agents, passengers and schedulers are all great people and a ton of fun to be around. Working as little as I do for a decent salary is nothing to complain about either.

Are there any downsides to your job?

Every job has a downside. This job’s downside is that I will never make as much money here as at a major airline.

Plane with sunset behind it

The airline industry is always changing. What have you seen from inside your company? Where do you think the changes will happen in the next five years?

Our company is brand new. There is a very real risk to Onejet going away in the next few years. I feel like the major airlines are going to start flying the regional airline routes. I feel like the regional airlines will shrink and eventually disappear. The pilot shortage is real, but the airlines have already begun to adapt.

What is the typical salary for a person in your position in the company?

Our company pays flat salary of $40,000 for First Officers and $70,000 for Captains.

What educational preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to advance in this field?

Go to a school that will get you done (with your ratings) and instructing before your junior year. Get your federally mandated flight time in by the time you graduate. Spend as little as possible to limit debt and pay it off as soon as you can. Choose who you want to fly for and make yourself fit the resume required of that job (i.e. Delta requires a master’s degree— if you want to fly for Delta, get your master’s).

Lots of pilots hear of the pilot shortage and feel entitled to the jobs they have been dreaming about. You are not entitled.

What qualifications do you seek in a new hire?

We look for people who are fun to be around, with good work ethic and hobbies. A well-rounded resume would include volunteer time, honors and accomplishments of all types, not just flight time and previous employers.

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