Hi my name is Branden Dungy and I’m a first officer on the CRJ 200 for ExpressJet. I came to ExpressJet from the University of North Dakota where I graduated in 2009 and was a flight instructor until 2011.
At UND, I was fortunate enough to play football for the university as well as realize my dream of becoming a pilot. I’m very lucky to have been able to work with a great teaching staff and an advisor who helped me plan my courses to manage the demanding schedule of being a student athlete and the equally demanding curriculum it takes to graduate from the UND aviation program. I spent my spring semester and summers catching up on my flight courses while I took a lighter load in the fall. A semester before graduation, I was selected to become a flight instructor for the university which I began in 2009.
Today, I’m happy to fly here at ExpressJet. It’s comforting to be at a company with stability. So far I have enjoyed the lifestyle of a reserve pilot [New-hire pilots typically begin as reserve pilots, which means they do not have a set schedule for the month and instead fulfill an on-call role]. I get to be out on the road and watch my surroundings change. Sometimes the days get long, but it doesn’t happen often. Being on reserve is inevitable, but it is a great experience if you keep a positive attitude.
The biggest transition I’ve encountered is how fast things happen here at ExpressJet. Obviously, things happen faster in a jet than a piston airplane. Though the control wheel and rudder work the same way, mentally you have to be way ahead and ready for plans to change. The training at ExpressJet before you begin flying prepares you really well.
And remember, as an airline pilot you’re not alone. It’s really easy to just ask the guy next to you for a little help. Captains respect the person who can come out and ask for help, so always ask! They have been there and have experienced more than you. I’ve tried to be a sponge and learn from every captain I fly with. Some things I incorporate in my flying, others aren’t my style, but you can learn from every captain.
My advice to future pilots is to have a goal and develop a plan to reach that goal. Put yourself in a position where you can achieve your goal, and use any tool at your disposal. Ask your professors for advice and stay in contact with your flight instructors. Chances are, they’ve been down the road you’re on and can offer their advice. And finally, work hard and don’t let any adversity discourage you.
I began my career here with friends I knew from UND and I’ve made many good, new friends since I started. I work with great crewmembers, fly leading aircraft, travel to interesting cities and meet new people on a daily basis. ExpressJet has been an awesome place to continue my career as a pilot.