Zach Crawford has dreamed about being a professional pilot his whole life. He used to sit at the airport for hours and watch the planes take off and land.
“I loved being around that atmosphere,” he explained.
His father passed away when he was 4 years old. His mother encouraged him and his sister to get a college degree and work toward a career in something they each loved. He began considering the idea of coming to EKU and majoring in aviation.
“I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
[Photo: Zach at age four with his airport runway birthday cake.]
He was welcomed by the aviation faculty and staff. He received so much support and the answers to his questions were so much more hopeful than he expected. “I was overwhelmed with joy.” The aviation department staff helped him find options to pay for his training and degree. “I thought, okay, I’m going to just do it!”
Zach says,“Now, in the blink of an eye, I am about to graduate. I have come so far in my training and knowledge. I look back at day one and recall how clueless I was. Now, I am a confident educated aviator and it’s hard for me to believe how far I have come.”
[Photo: Zach with his grandfather and mother at the airfield.]
Q & A with Zach Crawford
Why is flying important to you?
Flying to me is life. It has been my passion for as long as I can remember and it is my dream job. It’s almost unbelievable that someone is willing to pay you for something so amazing and enjoyable.
Is aviation a symbol of success? Why?
Absolutely aviation is a symbol of success. It is fun, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort and determination to establish a career in it.
Do you feel it’s important to use your flight skills to help other people or give back to your community?
I do believe it is important. The future aviators of this world need guidance and encouragement. It is an expensive field to get into and most people don’t believe they have the ability.
What was your experience with flying before joining the program?
I started to fly at a regional airport. The course of study was unorganized and inefficient. The structured environment at EKU allowed me to complete my ratings in the quickest and most efficient way possible.
What sets EKU’s aviation program apart from other programs in the country? What was it that made it a better choice for you?
EKU’s aviation program includes a four year degree and is a 141 flight school — which means lower flight hours are required to be hired by an airline. Aviation is expensive; but, because it is tied to a major university, there are more funding options. Financial aid and student loans are much easier to get for flight training.
How did you learn about the EKU aviation program?
I hung out at the airport as a kid, so I heard a lot of pilots talking about the program. Once I looked into it I was very interested in attending EKU. It seemed to me like a dream come true. A four year degree in aviation less than sixty miles from my hometown.
Anything else you want to say about the program?
I have received great instruction, guidance, and teaching in the aviation program. It is exciting to see the lifelong friends I’ve made at EKU branching out into all aspects of aviation. EKU made my dream a possibility and for that I will forever be grateful.