AeroGuard Alumni Spotlight: Callie Burgess
We’re back with another Alumni Spotlight, and this time we’re featuring Callie Burgess. From SkyWest Flight Attendant to Corporate Captain, Callie has established an exceptional pilot career with her passion, dedication, and commitment to her goals. Callie has a unique perspective on multiple career paths as a pilot and has a lot of wisdom to share with those currently in training. We look forward to sharing a little bit of her story with you!
As a flight attendant for SkyWest for six years prior to her flight training, Callie’s love for the sky and flying was already there. During this time, her fiancé had purchased a plane and she began to experience what it might be like to fly the plane herself! After obtaining her PPL, Callie transformed her love for the skies into a new thriving career.
After completing her PPL, she knew she wanted to go all the way to becoming a professional pilot. AeroGuard’s partnership with SkyWest through our Pilot Pathway Program was intriguing to her, and she decided to go for it. Callie came to AeroGuard in May of 2019, and from there she completed her Instrument Rating and all other licenses and certifications as well as her 1500 hours as a flight instructor.
Coming from the small town of Durango, Colorado, Callie chose AeroGuard’s Phoenix, Arizona campus location to be closer to family and because Arizona’s skies are always blue with constant good weather, allowing her to fly consistently.
Callie completed her training at AeroGuard in March of 2021. Because the presence of the pandemic was still impacting the airline industry, she patiently waited for her turn to begin her professional career and in October 2021, she landed a job with SkyWest. After a year of flying for SkyWest, she decided to make the switch to Corporate flying in October 2022, and just recently upgraded to Captain.
Callie shared that “SkyWest was fantastic and I would never turn anyone away from SkyWest.” When asked about why she chose to go the corporate route, she stated “It’s not that it was a better choice, it was a different choice.”
She thought about the schedule she wanted to have and the quality of life she was aiming to achieve, and the corporate position gave her what she was looking for and allowed her to stay in her hometown of Durango, Colorado.
Callie is now a Captain for FlexJet and her quality of life is exactly what she’s always wanted. She remains passionate about her career and loves that every day is an adventure. “I’m still learning every day, and every day is exciting and new. You’re always growing and I love that you’re always growing in this career.”
Looking back on her training, Callie felt that AeroGuard provided many valuable skills and lessons during her journey. AeroGuard introduced callouts, profiles, flows, all of which she uses in her professional career. She appreciates the professionalism AeroGuard instilled in her and her peers from day one to help prepare them for their careers at the airlines and beyond. In addition to the professional aspect, she mentioned that AeroGuard’s quality and updated equipment helped make the transition from training to the airlines a little easier as she felt she had gained the necessary hands-on experience from the training resources and facilities.
“AeroGuard provided the tools and the resources. …It was really up to you – if you have the drive, the tools were there. From Instrument on, I did it all in ten months. A lot is on the student – if you want to drive for the career, they’ll provide the resources.”
Callie remembers her time at AeroGuard not only consisting of her training, but also the friendships she made along the way that have had an impact on her career. She emphasizes the importance of networking and making these connections because these are not only the people you’re training with, one day they could be who you’re flying with. She shared with us that those people she met at AeroGuard are still the ones she calls when she’s curious about career directions or interested in hearing their perspectives and advice, and she’s also had peers reach out to her for that same mentorship and encouragement. These connections have been invaluable to her career and we love that the student support carries on well after training and into these individuals’ future careers.
Callie is not only passionate about her pilot career, but she’s also passionate about other pilots’ future careers as well. Her advice for the next generation of pilots is “Focus on the next step in front of you and not the big picture. Keep driving, keep using all your resources to build upon your skill as a pilot and don’t give up. Keep focusing. It’s better on the other side – it’ll pay off!”
If you’re currently in training or building your hours, Callie wants you to remember your quality of life and to ensure that it’s part of your thought process when considering your future pilot career. “There’s a lot of ways to do this career, you have to choose”. Whether you’re at the airlines or flying corporate, there’s always a way to achieve the career you’ve always wanted while maintaining a good quality of life.
Hearing from Callie about her inspiring work ethic and passion for her career serves as a testament for the drive and determination she encompassed as she went through training and how she operates in her professional career today. We hope that you take away some valuable insight from her unique perspective on pilot careers, and always remember to focus on the step that’s right in front of you.