EMU Lancaster aviation student Jacob Mathers earns Private Pilot and Instrument ratings

To read more profiles of student-pilots, visit https://emu.edu/now/news/category/academics/emu-at-lancaster/.

Jacob Mathers, of Lititz, Pennsylvania, discovered his passion for flying after taking a discovery flight. He knew then that he wanted to become a pilot. He highly values the aviation program’s professors, who share their stories of airline flying and their career progression, which he finds invaluable.

Mathers is a student in EMU Lancaster’s leadership and organizational management (LOM) program with a concentration in aviation. By the completion of the four-year program, graduates earn a bachelor’s degree and the FAA credentials they need to begin a professional pilot career.

Mathers shares more about his experiences in the program below:

What interests you about aviation? What led to you pursuing this career path?

For the longest time, I was always looking toward the sky when I heard an airplane fly over. As I grew up, I continued closely watching the aviation world. At first, I was interested in Aerospace Engineering, but that quickly changed when I took my first discovery flight and realized that flying airplanes was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Tell us about your friendships you’ve made with your classmates?

Since week 1, my cohort has been a tight group of classmates (pilots). We all share a passion for working hard and pushing each other in and out of the classroom. Some of the best memories together were during our first semester when we were learning what it took to become certified pilots — evenings turned into nights of flight planning, studying, and talking all about the endless possibilities as pilots.

What was it like to pass your Private Pilot Checkride?

Passing my private pilot checkride was a huge accomplishment. Only taking a bit more than three months to go from zero hours to holding a Private Pilot Certificate was not easy, but looking back, it was absolutely worth it. I passed my checkride right before Christmas (the best Christmas present ever), so naturally, the break from classes was full of flying family and friends.

We heard that the Instrument Rating is the most challenging, what makes that so challenging?

Obtaining an instrument rating allows for a completely different way of flight — not looking outside to figure out where to go. Initially, using outside references to guide yourself through a flight to shifting to using only the instruments inside the aircraft for navigation can be tricky for certain pilots. Personally, I really enjoyed my instrument training as I am a very detailed and precision-oriented person.

Why did you choose EMU?

Besides having Lancaster Airport two miles from my house, EMU was a great fit for me, as it offered an affordable method to obtain a bachelor’s degree but also the necessary certificates and ratings to become an airline pilot. EMU’s partnership with Aero-Tech Services allows for a seamless learning experience in both the classroom and the airplane. I also appreciate the experience the professors provide. Being able to take courses where the professors can share their stories of airline flying and their own career progression is invaluable. 

What have you most enjoyed about the program so far?

So far, I have enjoyed being able to fly as much as I do. From the first week onward, I have been in the airplane, learning something new each time I fly. Being able to share my learnings and hear from my fellow classmates on a personal level has been incredibly helpful as well.

What are your professional goals after graduation?

After graduation, my goal is to become a commercial airline pilot. There are many different ways to build hours toward this goal, such as flight instruction, charter flying, and more, of which I am open to any opportunity. Eventually, I would like to return to where my interest first began: the airlines.

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