We sat down with our Chief flight instructor Antonio Burgi, CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP about his experience and why he loves flying. Read more below!
Q: How did you get into flying?
A: By attending a selective aeronautical school in Italy. The school allowed me to obtain my first pilot license at the age of 17. I remember one of the selective criteria they had was that the student had to perform the first solo flight prior reaching the 10 hours mark, I think my flight time was 9.2 hours.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a pilot?
A: At age 13. I used to go to a favorite place of mine, right outside the airport in Palermo, Italy, where I was mesmerized by the airplanes taking off and landing.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your past flight experience before Sterling?
A: I served in the Italian Navy as a Naval Aviator for approximate 10 years, in a ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare) and SAR role. The plane I flew was a 13-man crew, French made aircraft Breguet-Atlantic 1150. During my early stage in the Italian Navy, I was selected to attend the US Naval Flight Training program in Pensacola, FL and Corpus Christy, TX and flew the T34-C and the T44-A training aircraft. In 2013, I took a break from being a flight Instructor at Sterling and joined ExpressJet Airlines and flew Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200, CRJ-700 and CRJ-900.
Q: What do you think is important when choosing a flight school?
A: I would definitely look at the school’s training and airplane maintenance history. I would also make sure that the school is Part 141 certified. A flight school that is Part 141 certified means that the school uses FAA-approved Training Course Outlines and syllabi; the FAA allows a reduced minimum flight time for a student attending a Part 141 certified program; the school meets minimum student pilot performance rates and maintains a minimum ‘pass’ rate of at least 80%; and the school’s training aircraft meets very stringent maintenance and safety standards.
Q: What made you want to become an instructor?
A: Love for flying, I also enjoy teaching and transferring my knowledge and experience to students.
Q: What do you like most about being an instructor?
A: Hearing back from formerly graduated students, that getting their pilot license made a big impact in their lives, and definitively the flexible schedule.
Q: How dos your role as Chief Instructor differ from the other CFIs at Sterling?
A: While CFI’s are responsible to conduct ground and flight training lessons in accordance with syllabi and lessons plans, as well as recommending students to practical test, the Chief Instructor oversees and certifies each student’s training records, stage checks, end of course test reports, I also ensure that each flight Instructor passes a yearly proficiency check that includes reviews in training technics and standard procedures in all training courses the instructor is qualified to teach.
Q: What is your most memorable flying experience?
A: Flying to Keflavik, Iceland, during the winter from my Italian naval base in Sigonella, Italy.
Q: What advice would you give students?
A: Don’t give up on your dreams because of obstacles. Ambition, motivation and perseverance are what I believe primarily brought me to where I am today.
Q: What advice would you give individuals interested in instructing?
A: Start sooner than later, it’s a perfect opportunity to build flight time and experience while you are being paid. Instructing has been very gratifying for me.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Probably becoming an FAA DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner)
Q: If you could fly anywhere, where would it be?
A: Flying East-West coast with a single or light multi engine plane.
Q: What’s the farthest distance you’ve flown?
A: Sigonella, Italy to Keflavik, Iceland ~ 2,400 miles
Q: What’s the coolest aircraft you’ve been able to fly?
A: It would definitely be a red Waco YMF biplane.