August 8, 2014
Lee Rafalko used the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Scholarship he received in 2011 to obtain his FAA dispatcher certificate. The online program facilitated by Universal Weather & Aviation allowed him to complete four months of online training at his own pace before attending two weeks of on-site training in Houston.
Earning his dispatch license helped Rafalko to gain knowledge and experience with operational aspects of aviation including aircraft performance, routes and weather. His certification has not only enabled him to better serve passengers and crew, but also provided additional professional credibility that Rafalko sees as a competitive advantage.
This competitive advantage would not have been achieved without the support of both NBAA and Rafalko’s employer, First Flight. Rafalko explained that while tuition fees may not seem overwhelming at first, the combination of tuition, books, tests and travel costs would have prevented him from completing his training. His scholarship from NBAA, coupled with company support, provided the tools he needed to finish training.
“NBAA does an excellent job clearly outlining what steps need to be taken to apply [for a scholarship],” Rafalko said. “My employer was also very helpful by allowing me the flexibility to make up for my two weeks in training. This allowed me to focus on learning without distraction. I truly enjoyed the whole process so much I would do it again just for fun.”
Rafalko’s sentiments on repeating training just for fun echo the passion so many schedulers and dispatchers feel for the business aviation industry. His professional development achievements and ongoing appetite for additional training opportunities are a clear reflection of his appreciation for corporate flight operations and the education necessary to perform at the highest levels in the field.
“I’m fortunate to have a career I am passionate about,” Rafalko said. “It allows me to put my education into practice, yet teaches me new things every day. I intend to continue merging my training and my experiences to work toward being the best that I can be at the work I love.”