Captain Marc Gonzalez joined PSA in 2014. Captain Erin Jackson started in 2011 and is due to flow to American Airlines this summer. We asked them to give us the 4-1-1 on life as a pilot at PSA.

What sparked your interest in a career in aviation?

Erin Jackson

Erin: When I was 5 years old, I took a ride in a hot air balloon and didn’t want to come down! When I was 13, I had an opportunity to ride in the Goodyear Blimp, and that sealed the deal for me. One of the pilots was a woman, and I realized I could make a career out of being a pilot. I started flight training at Southern Illinois University at the age of 17.

Marc: Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a pilot. My uncle is a corporate pilot for Beckton Dickinson, and I was always fascinated by the life he lived. I saw the passion he had for his career, and that really inspired me. 

Marc Gonzalez
Considering the stereotypical image of pilots, how is your life as a pilot different or similar to what you envisioned?
Erin: Ninety-seven percent of commercial airline pilots worldwide are men, so I’m leading a very different career and lifestyle than your stereotypical pilot. Balancing my career with my family life is a unique and challenging task. I’m thankful for the advances that unions and commercial airlines have made over the years to offer balance and support for a pilot’s career and family.
When it comes to education and training, what did it take for you to achieve your current role at PSA?
Erin: I received my bachelors in aviation from Southern Illinois University in 2002, took three years off while my children were little, and began instructing in 2005 for the university to build my hours. We also had a charter program with two light twin engine airplanes that allowed me to further my experience.

Marc: I started flying in 2009 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University while I was attending college for my bachelor of science of aeronautical science. I finished all my training there my junior year and started instructing at the university to build flight time. Six months after graduation, I had enough flight time to start my airline career.
What’s your estimate on college/flight school costs, and how did you navigate this price tag (e.g., student loans, etc.)?
Marc: Costs for both a degree and all flight training were probably in the $150–200k range. My best advice for navigating that is to apply for as many scholarships as you possibly can, save your money, and show up to every flight activity/class prepared to avoid adding any extra costs to that equation.

How did you find your current position as a pilot?

Erin: In 2008, when my family timing and acquired hours were suitable to leave for the airlines, the economy was tanking, and the airlines were furloughing pilots. I was thankful to have my instructing job throughout that difficult economic time. A friend worked at PSA, and he was keeping his ears open for me on when hiring was going to begin again. In January of 2011, he walked my resume into HR, and I got an interview in May and a class date of July. 

Marc: When I finally hit my 1,000 hours, PSA was the first company I applied to. They had a promising future with a very large amount of growth ahead. I had many friends already at the airline, as well as in the industry, and they were very quick to recommended PSA to me.

Marc: I have been at PSA for almost three and a half years. I have stayed because PSA has been great to me career-wise. As far as regionals are concerned, I believe it is one of the best and has plenty of opportunities for career progression.

Marc: My schedule is extremely flexible, which is great. It’s great to be able to choose exactly how much I work and have a choice on what days I work. My amount of days off normally ranges from 12 to 16 per month. While I am working, I prefer late shows and night flying. Most days, either work days or off days, I am doing ALPA work and helping pilots any way I can by volunteering with our union. 

Marc: Balancing flying with time off is easy. One very large perk to this job is how it really doesn’t come home with you. As soon as you walk off the airplane on your last day, you are done. As far as flying is concerned, I actually start to miss it when I have a lot of days off in a row. Definitely wouldn’t trade this job for anything!

Marc Gonzalez

What career goals are you working toward now? 

Erin: I’m very fortunate to be employed for a regional airline that has a flow-through program to American Airlines. Currently, I’m approximately 5 months away from my flow date, which will put the flow for me right at 7 years. Growing up in Chicago, my ultimate career goal has always been to fly for American Airlines. Every time my family would visit relatives in Colorado, we would fly American. I have very early memories of American Airlines’ pilots allowing me to come up to the flight deck to look at all the dials and controls. As I’ve grown and matured as a woman and a pilot, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to make my childhood dream a reality.

See our contract online, any time at psapilotcareers.com.