Compass Pilot Believes Enlisted Serviceman Could Be Untapped Resource

The armed forces have long served as a source of pilot candidates for the airlines, but not all these servicemen and women come from the military pilot ranks. Take Capt. Josh Walden (Compass), for example. Prior to flying E175s for Delta Connection and American Eagle, Walden was a U.S. Army helicopter mechanic.

A member of the Arizona Army National Guard, Walden worked on AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopters. However, budget sequestration in 2013 placed his job in jeopardy, and for a period of time, he didn’t get paid. Leveraging literally everything he had, Walden decided to pursue an airline flying career. He built up flight time as a certified flight instructor and later as a corporate contractor. Reaching the required 1,500 hours, he left the Army National Guard in 2016 to work for Compass Airlines.

“There’s a stigma about hiring airline pilots from the enlisted service ranks,” said Walden, suggesting that many in these positions are well suited for airline flying, particularly those with aviation-related specialties. As a helicopter mechanic, Walden brings a fundamental understanding of system knowledge to the job—an asset that gives him a leg up on many of his nonmilitary peers. Plus, the military teaches focus and attention to detail.

Walden believes enlisted servicemen and women with aviation-related specialties might just be an untapped resource for airlines looking for future airline pilot candidates. “The military has given these individuals the foundation they need to excel as pilots. Why not take advantage of this?” he asked.


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