Graduate Gets a Head Start on His Ascent

1.20.2017
Ben Diamond '15
Ben Diamond '15

Less than three years ago, Ben Diamond ’15 got his first taste of piloting. Now he has a bird’s-eye view of his career path.

A freshman at Bridgewater State University, Ben said he is enrolled in the college’s accelerated aviation program. “Incoming students are taught everything they need to know about aviation as soon as possible,” he said. 

Upon completion of that program an aviation student has the option of going through what they call the Gateway Program, which “allows a student the opportunity to spend a year working as a flight instructor at Bridgewater — and then immediately join an airline that has paired with BSU to bring new pilots into the commercial environment.”

So far, he said, JetBlue and its partner Cape Air are paired with the university. “Within the coming months,  companies like Delta and Trade Winds will be joining them. This means I will be able to spend three to four years as a pilot-in-training, a year working as a flight instructor, a couple of years at Cape Air flying locally, and finally joining JetBlue to fly internationally.”

“I first realized I wanted to become a pilot when, on my 16th birthday, my father took me for an introductory flight with Horizon Aviation, a small aviation training company operating out of the Norwood Memorial Airport,” Ben related. “We only flew around the Cape area for about an hour, but during that time I fell in love. It was an amazing experience.”

Last summer, Ben began pilot training. “We spent four hours flying and four hours learning on the ground, five times a week,” he described. “It was tough, but it was a lot of fun.”

“Now I spend up to three times a week flying around and working my way toward becoming a private pilot,” he continued. “A few weeks ago I flew solo for the first time. Recently my instructor and I flew out to Brainard Airport near Hartford, a 75-mile trip that took roughly an hour each way. And soon I will begin flying at night.”

He noted that he cannot legally fly paying passengers until he receives his commercial license — he hopes as soon as his junior year.

Ben observed that his pilot training has completely changed his perspective as an airplane passenger. “I understand things that the average passenger does not,” he pointed out. “Most of it is just random bits of knowledge. But when the airplane gets hit with turbulence, the guy next to me is practically tearing the cushion off his armrest, but I am not worried.”

“I also get very excited just looking out the window as the airplane taxis from the terminal all the way to the runway. It is the little things I have started to pick up on that really allow me to appreciate how complex everything is.”