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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cap'n Aux Interviews Swayne Martin, Future Airline Pilot

"Create your own trail"
—Swayne Martin

One of the great joys of writing an #airline/ #aviation/ #avgeek blog is meeting pilots around the world, from of all levels of experience—and, most especially, those aspiring to be our future airline pilots!

One of the first and most unique from this category that I've met is Swayne Martin.  Just this year, at the tender age of 15, he began his flight training in earnest.  On his 16th birthday, he was ready to solo—the minimum legal age—if only the weather would have complied!

Undaunted (as is a survival REQUIREMENT in this brutal business!), Swayne indeed soloed a scant few days later.

"If I do not at least give flying a shot,
I will regret it for the rest of my life."

One of the most remarkable things about this young man is his foresight and—dare I say—wisdom.  Unsatisfied with the harshly negative attitudes he found on aviation web boards about this unforgiving career, he sought out other, more encouraging voices, such as myself and Karlene Petit at Flight to Success (, and Brad Tate at Airline Pilot Chatter ( garner advice and encouragement.  Yes, this is a brutal business, but WORTH THE SACRIFICE—for those WILLING to tough it out and take it all in stride!

But enough from me.  Let's hear, in his own words, this intrepid young man's story.  By the way, Swayne has his own blog, where he has already encouraged other future pilots, at "From Private to Professional Pilot," at

Future Airline Pilot—and newly-minted solo pilot—Swayne, at age 6.

CAP'N AUX: When did you first realize you wanted to be a pilot?

SWAYNE:  Ever since I was very young I’ve been surrounded by aviation. My grandfathers were the two main people who introduced me to it over the years. In November (2012) I decided I would at least take a look at what it would mean to be a pilot. I really started to think about becoming a pilot; I reached out to many people already in the profession, including you, Karlene Petitt, Brad Tate, and dozens of others for some advice, including separating fact from fiction. 

CAP'N AUX: When was your first flight, and also your first lesson?  How old were you?

SWAYNE:  The first time I ever flew in a plane was when I was only about 3 weeks old. I flew from my home city to Tampa, Florida, to meet my grandparents. Since then, I’ve flown a little over 90 times (each leg) commercially.

"There is also a great risk with flying for a living. That is why I am looking into how people create backup plans."

I took my first flight lesson on December 28th, 2012, when I was 15 years old. I was so excited to actually get in the cockpit and begin learning how to fly.

CAP'N AUX: What is your ultimate aviation dream?  Do you intend to make it a career?  

SWAYNE:  Ultimately, I hope to turn flying into some kind of a profession for myself. Whether that be cargo, commercial, corporate, private etc., I do not know. Honestly, I love everything about flying, so I plan to leave my doors open to a range of diverse flying options. (Like!—Ed;)

For anyone who is interested in pursuing their passion, not necessarily because of the money, I highly recommend watching this video; it’s one of my favorites:

CAP'N AUX:  Based on today's world, what do you think your chances are?

SWAYNE:  I’m a pretty optimistic person in general. At the same time, I am not considering this profession for the money, but because I really love it. This isn’t a career that you can just walk into and expect to do well. There is also a great risk with flying for a living, if you make a mistake or become physically incapable of flying, you are done. That is why I am really looking into how people create backup plans. I know that it will take a lot of dedication and hard work, but with the right mindset and attitude going in, I know I can succeed. If I do not at least give flying a shot, I will regret it for the rest of my life. 

Swayne and family celebrate his first solo!

CAP'N AUX:   Who in your life helps and supports your flying dreams, and who/what inspires you in your flying adventure?

SWAYNE:  My family has been supportive of me in nearly everything I do, which I am SO grateful for. I’ve been lucky to have grown up with a supportive group of people who are willing to “drop everything” to help me out. They know that if I am going to put my mind to something and really work at it, no one can stop me. 

Swayne preflights his baby.

I am someone who won’t be satisfied by working behind a desk in a corporate job. I have grown up traveling, exploring, meeting new people, and seeing new things. Over the years, I have developed a real passion for all of the aspects of travel. That is something that always inspires me in aviation.

I love being at airports, thinking about where these thousands of people might be traveling—
all possible because of air travel.

I love being at airports, seeing all of the activity, and thinking about where these thousands of people might be traveling to—all possible because of air travel.

Clear Prop!

CAP'N AUX:   Career aside, there are many avenues to pursue one's passion for flying. Are there any other areas you'd like to explore, just for your own pleasure?

SWAYNE:  One thing I know I’ve got to do is some bush training and flying in Alaska. I went to Alaska when I was about 9 years old and was fortunate enough to go on a floatplane tour of glaciers near Juneau. From the moment I stepped on that plane, I knew one day I would fly in Alaska. It’s something that I’ve promised to myself that I will do one day, if I am able to. Until the show was cancelled, I watched a lot of Flying Wild Alaska (Discovery Channel Even though it was dramatized, I found it really inspiring and cool to see how much those people loved and enjoyed their jobs!

CAP'N AUX:   You have started a blog,"From Private to Professional Pilot," at, intending to chronicle your flight training adventure.  What do you hope to achieve with the blog?

SWAYNE:  This is the mission statement of my blog: 
“The goal of this blog is to show the steps which I will be taking over the next few years in my pursuit of a Professional Pilot career. I will show step by step my path towards this goal, beginning with my first Flight Lesson. In addition, I will show you what inspires me in aviation from the flights I have taken to the people I have met. Along the way, I hope to inspire young or new pilots to follow their passion and take it to the next level.”


CAP'N AUX:   What advice do you have for others in your shoes, aspiring to be a pilot?

SWAYNE:  The best advice I have for an aspiring pilot is: create your own trail. At the beginning of my training I was really inspired by this well-known quote: 

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve grown up in a pretty wealthy community for my whole life. But as many of you know, this kind of wealth doesn’t always end in happiness. When I talk to my friends, many of them feel like it is expected of them to follow a mainstream career path (to live up to their parent’s expectations) such as a: doctor, lawyer, or businessman. Honestly, I feel pretty bad for them. I feel so lucky to have been brought up to value my happiness and follow what I am truly passionate about. Throughout my life I’ve really gotten to know myself. I know that for me, personally, I need something more than those careers. I want to spend my life exploring, seeing the world, meeting new people, etc.  This is the “code” I try my best to live my life by:

“One day I want to be an old man sitting in a rocking chair, never being able to tell the same story twice.”
—Unknown Author

(And here's a related favorite—Ed):

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
—Mark Twain

What is it that you desire? Think about what YOU want out of YOUR life and try not to let others dictate what is right or what is wrong for your future. If you want to read more about this, I wrote an article in the following link that explains what to do in the face of negativity: "Don't let others dissuade you. ("

CAP'N AUX:   What are some of the pitfalls you see ahead in your journey, that you'd like to warn others about?

SWAYNE:  The biggest pitfall that I’ve noticed with pilots is that many seem to enter the career with unrealistic expectations. For many, the end goal is working towards a position with a major airline. You have to have an incredible amount of dedication to get to that point. (AND LUCK!—Editor)

"It all comes down to attitude. If you are willing to stick through the hardships for that dream job, you will find happiness."

It all comes down to attitude in the end. If you are willing to stick through the hardships for that dream job you can only dream about, you will succeed and find happiness in the end. You can’t expect to have good pay, at least for a long time, be at home a lot, or have a lot of financial flexibility. Not everything about flying is great of course, like any job there are parts of it that won’t be “fun.” What I’ve heard is that: If you begin to treat flying as any job, it gets a lot easier to deal with the bad days. No one wants to wake up multiple days in a row at 3am, but it just a reality of the job sometimes. Once you begin to accept these realities, the job could become a lot more enjoyable. 

CAP'N AUX:   Tell us about your first solo.

SWAYNE:  Before I go into a little more detail, here is a short video summary of my first solo (I used a gopro camera):

My first solo flight was an incredible experience for me. When I took off I laughed to myself because I thought: "Wow, I'm up here flying this plane before I can even drive solo." Was definitely weird to be flying solo above the roads I can’t drive solo on yet!  It was a pretty cool feeling, one I won’t ever forget.

When I took off I laughed and thought, "Wow, I'm up here flying this plane before I can even drive solo!"

Flying in the pattern was fun. I really noticed how quiet it is. I didn’t really feel nervous; I knew that I could fly that plane safely.  You're all alone in the quiet plane with the occasional radio call... so it was pretty relaxing and really enjoyable. That’s one of my favorite parts of flying. When you go up, all you have time to think about is flying that plane. You don't have the time to worry about what’s happening on the ground with life stresses, people, schoolwork, etc. That is something that pilots should really be grateful for; there aren’t too many things in life that allow you to just leave the earth for a few moments and forget what you left behind. If you are interested in hearing more about it or seeing more photos, here is the link to the blog article: "First solo flight (" 

CAP'N AUX:   What's your favorite aircraft, or type of aircraft?

SWAYNE:  That’s a really hard question for me to answer.  Unlike a lot of people, I’m not sure if I have a favorite. I enjoy the experience of flying whether it be on an Airbus, Boeing, or any other brand. One thing I will say is that I really enjoyed flying on the Air France A380 over the summer, I wrote about it here: "Trip to France ("  

Per tradition, solo pilot Swayne earns his wings—and loses the back of his shirt!

Swayne thanked me for the interview, and added: "I really hope that some of the answers can help out another aspiring pilot, similar to myself."

Swayne, I think you already have, and will help many more! We wish you Happy Trails in your aviation adventure!


Swayne's contact info:
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Related Link: A future pilot interviews Cap'n Aux


Posting March 27 at 11:00 PHX!
Cap'n Aux's next Vlog (Video Blog)...



Coming Soon:

Cap'n Aux answers readers' technical Q's!


  1. Thanks so much for that interview Eric! I really appreciate it... glad that my blog and youtube channel are working out!

    I will be emailing you soon with an interview for my blog about you :D

    My first solo flight video hit 10,000 views overnight! Crazy stuff! Jumped 9,000 views in one day woohoo!

    Many Thanks,
    Swayne Martin
    Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot

    1. Thank you, Swayne! It was a pleasure!

      Ah! I'm jealous of your video hits! I gotta learn your secret, lol! Backlink to my blog too there, LOL! ;)


  2. That was a really awesome post. Swayne definitely has a great attitude, so no doubt he'll go anywhere he wants in aviation. I look forward to one day hearing a welcome aboard announcement from Captain Martin. Excellent!

    The gopro video is really well done too. Interesting that he's flying a plane before being able to drive to the airport. How cool is that?

    Craig R

    1. Thanks, Craig!

      Ya, isn't that ironic? A pilot before a driver--what a cool story to be able to tell!

      Yes I think we'll be hearing great things from Captain Martin in the future--and he does do great videos too!

    2. Thanks so much! Glad you liked the video and interview!

      I love it when people ask me if I can drive yet and I have to say no, but they are shocked to find out that I can fly!!

      Swayne Martin

  3. What a great interview and a great read! The videos are wonderful to see!! Congratulations to Swayne for getting as far as he has - and - to have that career mapped out for the future - can only bode well!

    Looking forward to the sim post Eric!!

    1. Thanks so much! Glad you liked the video. I've uploaded a few more since then to:

      Hope you enjoy the blog! :)

    2. Sorry I didn't reply to you sooner, Mark. Thought I had--but Swayne beat me to it, LOL! ;-)

      Ya love your vids, Swayne. GoPro is coming with my tax return, LOL!

      Sadly, I had to bump the Sim post back a week, to the 27th--my video editing program crashed! But, it'll be worth the wait!!

  4. Swayne, I love this interview. I'm thinking that one day you might "hear" from those who blame their failures on the fact they didn't have money... that those with money got the job because Dad bought it. Stand tall and don't bite. I have great heartburn for those who complain about not getting it because they didn't have money.

    Money does not buy success in aviation. Money provides different opportunities, but the success in aviation comes from doing the work, and having the commitment, dedication, and aptitude. Which you have proven you meet those requirements. And we should never do anything for the money. I feel for your friends too. You are lucky because you have been given the best gift of all from your family... support.

    Keep your eyes open wide and continue to follow your passion.

    Erik, Excellent post!!!

    1. Thanks so much Karlene! I really loved what you had to say about the money aspect of the job.

      It's a tricky thing to talk about money because while an asset, in an industry like this, people can't become successful solely based upon their capital.

      I love that my family has been so supportive of me in pretty much everything that I do... I couldn't do it without them!

      Thanks Karlene!
      Swayne Martin

  5. Swayne, if you're still around, what kind of aircraft is that you're flying, anyway? Cool looking bird.

    Craig R

    1. Yep I'm still here! I was flying the Tecnam Sierra P2002... it's a whole lot of fun to fly. I chose to train in it over the Cessna because it is a so responsive and has the glass-cockpit :)

      If you want to read more about the plane I fly with some more images, they can be found on my blog here:

      Thanks for the nice comment!
      Swayne Martin

  6. That's a great post Eric. Swayne is indeed wise beyond his years! He'll go far.

    Thanks for sharing this on your blog!

    1. He is, isn't he Brent!
      I'm meeting many intrepid young men and women his age who are fired up over this career (warts and all). Hoping to inspire them!

  7. That was really inspiring, I feel rejuvenated now. I like the spirit in Swayne and the great work he is doing for the next generation of aviators.

    I am also an aviator,aircraft technician in particular from Nairobi Kenya.

    Thanks for sharing such a masterpiece.


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