Business Aviation Insider

March 11, 2019

Numerous Factors Have Led People To Choose To Work In This Industry

There are many ways to get to a destination. Choosing a career usually does not happen in a single eureka moment, and it certainly does not happen the same way for everyone. While some aspiring young aviation professionals seem to have always known what they wanted to do with their lives, others took time to make their career choice.

The following four young people have either embarked upon a career in business aviation or are considering doing so. And they all got to this point in their lives via different avenues.

  • Through an internship
  • Following a journey of self-discovery
  • As an economic necessity
  • In order to follow in a parent’s footsteps

Here are their stories.


Flight Program Major, Senior,
St. Louis University


Emily Tobler’s earliest memories of aviation are of the days her father took her to work. At lunchtime, they went to nearby Centennial Airport in Denver to watch airplanes take off and land. In high school, she began taking flying lessons. For Emily, it was love at first flight.

“I was totally overwhelmed,” she recalled. But that elation faded for a while. “I loved flight,” she said, “but I don’t think I really knew enough to pull the trigger [on an aviation career].”

Emily spent her first year of college at Fordham University in New York City, somewhat adrift. Then she was accepted as a transfer student at St. Louis University, a small Jesuit institution with a reputable flight program. It had been her second school of choice.

Home in Denver after her freshman year, Emily’s love for aviation resurfaced. A discovery flight at the college confirmed her decision. “It truly challenged me, and I knew that on the flip side there would be such a reward.”

Emily excelled at her studies, deciding to major in aviation management. In January 2018, she began an internship at NBAA headquarters in Washington, DC, working with the director of professional development on a campaign to boost interest in the Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) credential. She was fascinated.

“Getting all of their textbooks and publications up to date and redoing a whole bunch of spreadsheets in order to update the records on those who had taken the CAM exam – I had a pretty substantial part in that,” she explained.

The two-month internship fueled her desire to work in aviation management. And it solidified her determination to pursue a business aviation career.

“It’s really exciting. That’s the feeling I get from business aviation that I don’t get from commercial aviation.”


Aviation Management Major, Senior,
Rocky Mountain College


Flying did not come naturally to Larae Stotts. In fact, it was not her first career choice. Ultimately, though, what fascinated her were the people in business aviation.

“Growing up, I was always a good writer,” Larae said. “I was into theater and very artsy.”

As a result, Larae decided to study broadcast journalism when she entered college. But something was missing.
Her father had grown up in the aviation industry, and as she became disenchanted with the idea of being a journalist, she found herself drawn toward flight.

But she almost balked on that decision during her first flying lesson. After taxiing to the active runway, her instructor held the brakes and ran the engine to full power. She was frightened by the noise and vibration. But as she helped guide the speeding plane down the runway and into the air, her fears evaporated.

“I can learn how to fly!” she said to herself. It was a moment that changed her life.

Now a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT, Larae believes she has found her niche. She is surrounded by people she finds simply amazing.

“I said, ‘Hey, my name is Larae and I want to fly.’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re one of us,’” she explained.
Larae is still struggling with a decision on whether she wants to become a commercial pilot or work in business aviation. She believes the decision will come down to the people she works with and the culture of the workplace.

“I think there’s a ton of opportunity in business aviation,” she said. “I want to work for a company where you do more than just punch a clock, where you’re more than a number.”


Sales Consultant,


As a child, Jordan Scales was set on becoming a roller coaster engineer. But then he realized two things: First, there is not a large demand for roller coaster engineers. Second, he would not be a very good engineer.

With little difficulty, he instead decided to become a pilot. It would be a first for the Scales family – no one else had ever become an aviator. So, with his mother’s blessing, he entered the Professional Flight Program at Auburn University.

It did not last long. Stunned by out-of-state tuition fees and the cost of flight training, Jordan realized after three months that it was more than his family could afford. But he was unwilling to part with his dream of an aviation career. After conferring with his mentors at Auburn, Jordan switched his major to Aviation Management.

It was a wise choice. He graduated cum laude and became the first Aviation Management major in seven years to be named Most Outstanding Senior at Au-burn’s Raymond J. Harbert School of Business.
“They said I was an ambassador, not only for Auburn University, but for Auburn’s aviation program,” Jordan remembered.

Auburn University was not alone in that glowing assessment. In 2014, Jordan won an internship at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, KS. He learned the art of network-ing, and before summer’s end, he was recommended for Textron’s Leadership Development Program.

Jordan is now a sales consultant with jetAVIA, a Kansas-based firm specializing in turbine aircraft brokerage and acquisition, aircraft delivery and factory acceptance services.

These days, when Jordan looks back on his decision to leave flight school, he realizes “it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.”


Airport Management/Marketing Major,
Junior, University of North Dakota


As a youngster, Elayna Hall knew she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. A lifelong pilot, he had risen to become a vice president at Fargo Jet Center in North Dakota. She grew up around airplanes and aviators, so it seemed only natural to her to seriously consider a career in aviation.

“A lot of people, when they’re first exposed to aviation, they think of the commercial side,” Elayna explained. “I had insight into the general aviation side of it, and that really interested me.”

She was encouraged to take the general aviation path by her parents and her high school guidance counsel-or, who told Elayna without hesitation, “You’re on the right track.”

But while Elayna knew she was meant to work in business aviation, she was not set on becoming a pilot. Living out of a suitcase simply did not appeal to her.

“Pilots are away from home a lot and, while you get to travel – which is really cool – that wasn’t really what I wanted,” Elayna said.

Her father’s career confirmed that for her. Like Elayna, he was a certificated pilot. But his work as an aviation executive did not mean he was constantly in the air.

Working in airport marketing and management will do the same for her, Elayna figures. She thinks that airport management is an underserved career field that will keep her grounded while working in the industry she grew up with and has come to love.