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Meet Eric Wayte '05
Posted 11/09/2016 09:07AM

Tell us how life has changed since you left SPX.

Since graduating from SPX I have pursued my passion for aviation by working in the airline industry. I began as a customer service agent at Continental Airlines and moved on to flying an Embraer 120 aircraft – a 30-seat turboprop for a small airline in South Florida that flew to the Bahamas and Cuba. From there, I spent eight-and-a-half years at ExpressJet Airlines, which flies the Embraer 145, a 50-seat jet aircraft for Continental/United Express around North America. Now, just over a year ago I began working at Kalitta Air, flying the Boeing 747-400. Kalitta Air does contract cargo flights for private companies and military charters around the world.

Working for these companies I have had the opportunity to be based and live in Houston, Miami, Newark and Chicago. I currently live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and love the year-round sunny, warm weather.

What college (s) did you go to? What did you major in?

I attended community college in Baytown, Texas, and studied aviation-related courses, while also going to flight school at Hobby Airport. When I got my first job flying as a commercial pilot, I attended American Intercontinental University online, because of my busy and varying schedule. I received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in management. It was important to me to earn a degree in a field like business to ensure I had another career path available to me in case the aviation industry became unstable or I lost my FAA medical.

When did you first become interested in flying?

I became interested in flying at a very young age. When I was younger I lived in Europe and we took a lot of family trips. I was always fascinated with learning and experiencing other cultures when traveling. Along with the urge to travel, I was always fascinated by airplanes. To this day its amazes me that something so big can get off the ground. The physics of flight are just amazing. I took my first flight lesson at 10 years old and at that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Tell us about your first flight in a 747?

My first flight in the 747 was a special one. When growing up most of us who love aviation think of the iconic 747 as "queen of the skies." So, having the opportunity to fly this airplane is really special and a dream come true as it is a part of aviation history. My first 747 flight was Cincinnati to Brussels and the whole flight I was just happy because it was the flying that I had dreamed of – long-haul international flying. Of course, along with being happy, I was nervous because It was my first time flying across the Atlantic Ocean, and understanding procedures for crossing an ocean is very different than flying domestic flights.

What is your favorite place you have flown to?

My favorite place I have flown is Hong Kong. Every culture in the world has had a role in making that city what it is today. Along with the busy city feel, one can easily escape into the hills to find quiet time or take a bus to a smaller town nearby and enjoy a nice beach.

What is the best/most rewarding part of your day job?

The most rewarding part about my job is that when I look out the window my world is constantly changing, from seeing different types of weather to varying terrains and climates. When we land in a country, I am always excited to meet new people and to experience new cultures. It is so interesting to see what their customs are like and experience something different than what I am use to. It definitely makes one appreciate this fantastic world.

What advice would you give current SPX students who are interested in becoming pilots?

I would tell future aviators that being a pilot is a lot of hard work and concentration. Airlines require a lot out of their pilots – extensive background checks, flight experience, FAA medical tests, college transcripts, and the ability to get along with others. Being a pilot is not a job, it is a passion. One will spend a lot of time away from home, which could potentially hurt relationships with family and friends, so it is important that those close to you are supportive. There will be times when you may feel overwhelmed by the high demands that both the airlines and the FAA place upon pilots, but once you make it and are sitting at the controls of a multimillion-dollar aircraft, seeing the world constantly changing outside your window, it is a pretty rewarding feeling.

What is one of your favorite memories of SPX?

I would have to say being a part of a team sport. Having that bond with my teammates is something that I really enjoyed. I would also say the faculty and student body were some of the nicest people I have ever met. I learned to study there and that was significant for me to attain my flight credentials.

What is one of the most important lessons you took away from SPX?

SPX set the foundation of me being an adult. SPX taught me to be organized, plan ahead and not procrastinate.

What were you involved in as a student at SPX?

I was involved with basketball for all four years and tennis for three years.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I am an avid scuba diver and I hold multiple levels of certification from being a rescue diver to a master diver. The underwater world is amazing and I am currently working towards my instructor license. Other than scuba diving, I am a traveler, even though I travel for a living, I still find myself seeking countries that I have never been. One day I hope to set foot in every country in the world.

How did your SPX education prepare you for college?

SPX taught me the fundamentals of time management and helped me develop organizational skills and the importance of planning ahead which helped prepare me for college.

What advice would you share with new SPX graduates?

My advice is to follow your dreams no matter what they are. So many people chase a paycheck and they are unhappy because it is not what they want to do. On top of following your dreams, travel the world, experience customs and cultures that you are not use to, develop an understanding of how and why they live that lifestyle and be thankful of where you come from.

What does it mean to you to be an SPX Alumni?

It means that I am a Panther for life. The faculty and the student body are some of the best people in the world and the relationships that I have created with some will last forever.

Which SPX teacher made the most lasting impact on you?

All the teachers played a role in helping me to want to follow my dream. One very tough teacher was Mrs. Griffis, who was a mathematics teacher. Tough but wonderful. She would always go above and beyond to help me understand any math issues I had. She inspired me to follow my dream, I could tell that she loved what she did for a living. She was so passionate about her career and that inspired me. I believe that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life and for that I am very fortunate I had her as a teacher.

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