Latest CJP Scholars Exploring Future Aviation Opportunities

CJP2017-logo-smallThe new year brought a new roster of CJP Flight Training Scholars, five students whose flight training activities toward careers in the aviation industry have been supported financially through generous contributions by CJP members. In this first update, our scholars introduce themselves and tell us a bit about their current training and future ambitions.

Justin A. Chirco

Let me again begin with a heartfelt thank you to everyone at the Citation Jet Pilots Association for your continued support and assistance in facilitating my path toward becoming a professional pilot. Without such generosity, my journey would be a financial struggle and my final goal more challenging.

Ever since my twelfth birthday when I took my first training flight, I have been laser-focused on becoming a pilot. I am currently finishing my second year at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and am proud to be the first in my immediate family to attend college. The experience has been both challenging and rewarding and has been life-changing in many ways. Challenges came from the many COVID-19 restrictions and lack of in-person classroom interaction, however, this did not deter my progress. I have stayed on course and continued successfully maintaining an above-average GPA while checking off each required aviation requirement proceeding toward my final goal of becoming a professional pilot.

By continuing my journey through the summers, I have been able to complete my Private Pilot Certification, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot Certification. I am currently working on my CFI Certification. I look forward to working on my Multi-Engine Rating in the fall as I work as an instructor, gaining experience and hours. To earn additional money, I currently work as a Flight Dispatcher at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In addition, I take every opportunity to fly and continue to add hours to my logbook.

On a personal note, I am proud to have been named Vice-President of Campus Outreach at Embry Riddle and have been accepted into the Republic Airways Cadet Program. In addition, I recently traveled with fellow students to Puerto Rico where I participated in a charitable effort, rebuilding storm-damaged communities and doing our part in helping displaced families rebuild their lives. I plan on returning again this summer.

Lexi Ebersole

My name is Lexi Ebersole, and I am a sophomore here at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I am from Hershey, PA, also known as, “chocolate town!” I am studying to be an airline pilot one day with a major in Aeronautical Science and a minor in business administration. One of the most special things that happened to me so far during this spring semester is that I received my private pilot license. This means the world to me as I have been working on this achievement since August of 2020 when I first started here.

Gaining my private pilot license was not easy, and as many say, here at Embry-Riddle, it is even more challenging. I have found this to be true. Getting my private pilot license here was one of the most challenging things that I have done in my life so far, but boy can I say it paid off. I just started my instrument training a few weeks ago and I am already farther than some who started a month or more ago. I truly feel as if the training that I gained from sticking through the hard times and getting my license here, has significantly lightened up my training for my next rating. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge that others may not get from smaller flight schools, and I am currently on my first stage check, module 10 out of 41 for my instrument training. I am early on but moving right along.

CJP 2022 ERAU C172

Another activity that I am participating in on campus is Dance Marathon ERAU. This organization began two years ago at Embry-Riddle and helps to raise money for the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. It is my first year doing this and I am in the executive chair position for hospital relations. With this role, I work to keep in touch with the miracle families who we are raising money for and involving them in our events. Now that more COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed and more people can attend events, the families are coming to speak at our even this year on March 5th. I am in charge of making sure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event with the families who we are helping.

I am very grateful for the opportunities that Embry-Riddle has provided for me, along with the Citation Jet Pilots Association. I am progressing through flight training and loving every part that comes with it here at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Again, thank you for this amazing opportunity to progress.

Matthew Kennedy

I am currently a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. I am majoring in aeronautical science with the goal of becoming a pilot for the major airlines someday. This is my third year at Embry Riddle as I started fresh out of high school in the summer of 2019. So far it has been a great ride and every day I feel like I take one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a professional pilot. Ever since I was five or six years old, I have always known that I wanted to fly and am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had so far. Every day that I get to attend the university I do and every dollar of every scholarship I receive is incredibly valuable to me, it is a vital part of achieving my goals.

In terms of my current semester and flight training everything has been going well up to this point. Being the end of February now means that a good portion of the spring semester is behind us, and I am digging in to give my all in every class. Currently I am taking five courses: satellite and weather radar interpretation, crew resource management, electronic flight management systems, aircraft turbine engines, and ground school for CFI and CFII. In addition to these academics, I am working on my multi-engine add-on for my commercial certificate. With five courses and flight training it can be a challenge at times, but I would not have it any other way. The academics can be demanding at times and require diligent studying as well as meeting with my professors, the flight training has been challenging as we are feeling the effects of the pilot shortage at school right now. There are not as many multi-engine instructors as usual because they are gobbled up by the airlines as soon as they hit R-ATP minimums. The movement right now in the industry is really something impressive. Nonetheless it has been a great start to the semester, and I am looking forward to the future.

Moving into the future I have extensive plans in place academically and professionally. Short term I am looking to keep doing well in my classes and my flight training. As mentioned earlier I am currently a junior, this summer/fall I will be a senior and want to finish strong. In addition to my major, I am planning to minor in both applied meteorology and airline operations, I am making good progress on both. Within my degree program I also can earn an Aircraft Dispatcher Certification if I take the dispatcher capstone course, my current plan is to take this course in my final semester. With respect to flight training, I am working on my commercial multi-engine add-on as mentioned earlier, once completed with that I plan to start flight training for CFI and CFII this summer. My university has an accelerated fast track program to become an instructor which has caught my interest. I have been looking into it trying to determine if the program is a good fit for me and if I am a good fit for the program as it is very accelerated. I also was accepted into the Delta Propel Pilot Pathway and completed the indoctrination ceremony this past January. This is a phenomenal opportunity to be on an accelerated path to a great employer like Delta. Overall, the future looks bright, and the opportunities and challenges ahead excite me as I begin to tackle them.

In closing I would like to say I am so grateful for this scholarship and the opportunities it will provide. I am honored that the Citation Jet Pilots Association chose myself as one of the deserving recipients out of many impressive and qualified students. I hope these updates find everyone well and am eagerly looking forward to what the future of our partnership holds.

Jasmine Lombardi

2022 has started out great for me so far and I am excited for what the year has in store for me. My classes are going great and I am very interested in them. I am currently enrolled in Turbines, Aircraft Systems and Components, Aerodynamics, Introduction to Air Traffic Management, and my favorite class, Corporate and Business Aviation. Most importantly, I passed my checkride for Commercial Single Engine Land on January 10th, 2022. Since becoming a commercial pilot, I began my CFI course at Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach, FL. As I write this, I am about three weeks into the course, and I can honestly say that I have already learned a lot both about myself and instructing.

For a little bit about myself, I am currently a sophomore at Embry-Riddle. However, due to my heavy course load and my decision to take classes over the summer, I will be graduating a year early next spring. I am originally from central New Jersey, but my family moved down to southwest Florida this year. My love for aviation began at a young age, and my introductory flight in 2017 confirmed that feeling. My private pilot flight training began soon after at KTTN, a Class D airport. I completed my private pilot training at an uncontrolled airport, and I am certain the two different atmospheres of a controlled airport and an uncontrolled airport shaped me into the pilot I am today. My instrument and commercial training were both completed at Embry-Riddle. I am on the waitlist for a flight block for the commercial multi-engine add-on course at Embry-Riddle as well, but in the meantime I am enrolled at Epic Flight Academy working on my CFI and eventually my CFII.

If you recall from earlier on in this update, I stated that my Corporate Business and Aviation class was my favorite. This is because the corporate sector of aviation has my heart. I am not that interested in flying for an airline and flying the same legs over and over again. I am also not the biggest fan of never having the same crew. I am much more partial to the corporate aviation side, where I can travel to many different places and fly with a relatively constant crew. Corporate aviation is also very exciting to me as it is very unpredictable. I would love to work in an environment where nothing is routine and where my services could be needed on a day’s notice. Plus, who wouldn’t want to fly a beautiful jet like the Citation Longitude.


Overall, it has been an exciting two months for me. Hopefully, by the time you hear from me next, I will be at the finish line of my eight-week CFI course with my checkride in sight. If I am lucky, maybe I will be a CFI already. I am extremely excited that I will have students of my own soon that I can teach to be safe, qualified pilots. I am a firm believer that a qualified instructor produces great students, so I aim to be the best that I can be everyday. As for my next update at the end of April, I am excited to be able to report on my progress in my academics and in my flight training.

Jonathan Spangler

First, let me thank you all for supporting the scholarships which are helping me achieve my dreams of flying for Delta Air Lines.

As a career changing Army veteran, I am following a childhood dream of flying for Delta Air Lines. In my interviews with airlines, I am commonly asked about the impetus for my involvement in aviation. It stems from the first time my dad showed me photos of him standing in front of the first C-5 Galaxy delivered to Travis AFB as he was deploying to Vietnam. I knew I wanted to fly big planes. My next touchpoint was the first flight I ever took from Atlanta to Miami when I was about 12 years old. Planes stole my focus from just about everything, except for my growing love for music.

My family could not afford the high costs for flight training, so I stuck with drumming and eventually made my way to college for music, and then to a professional career as a musician with the United States Army Europe Band & Chorus. It was during the years of Army that I became more of a manager and team leader and less of a performer. Upon the end of my service, I chose to continue my education in management, and attended Carnegie Mellon University for a master’s degree in management, focusing on not-for-profit management, fundraising, and budget management. After Carnegie Mellon, I went into management consulting, specifically in the arts and entertainment industry. I felt something was missing from sitting behind a desk doing spreadsheets all day. When the pandemic hit, I had a few moments of reflection and something I simply cannot explain led me to go check out the flight school at Nut Tree airport in Vacaville, CA.

As soon as I saw their planes out on the ramp, I was hooked. I threw down my card and asked how soon I could start flight training. Thus began a year’s long exercise into the realization that I needed to change careers. I built spreadsheets to model different scenarios and the potential best- and worst-case outcomes. Ultimately, I realized the best option would call for a big sacrifice for my spouse and I in terms of money and time living apart. I needed to network with industry personnel and bolster my chances of getting to the major airlines. For my family and me, that meant Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Currently, I am scheduled to graduate this December. I recently completed my Commercial Single Engine course and am awaiting to take my check-ride. After this course I am beginning flight instructor courses, then commercial multi-engine in the summer. The goal for next year is to flight instruct for Embry-Riddle to build my time until I can apply for the regional airlines. I have my eyes set on the three regional carriers for Delta and have been actively engaging with them during their campus visits and career networking days.

Finally, I want to reiterate my sincere thanks to everyone who donates to scholarship funds and to the philanthropy committee for making this opportunity available to us. My family greatly appreciates the support.