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Shoals Flight Center Home to New Commercial Airline Pilot

By  | January 7, 2019 | Filed under: News
Dwight Paulk, II

Dwight Paulk, II

 MUSCLE SHOALS – Dwight Paulk first became interested in aviation when he noticed a sign that read “Learn to Fly” outside a local airport in his home state of Tennessee. Now, several years later he works as a pilot flying for a commercial airline. Shoals Flight Center (SFC), based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, helped him accomplish his goals and launch him into a dream career.

Paulk is originally from Savannah, Tennessee, and started his career in aviation at the age of 15 when he joined the Civil Air Patrol. This would later help him train for much cheaper than other students because he was able to rent planes for around $20 an hour. Next, Paulk took to the skies in his first solo flight at the National Flight Academy.

After gaining his private license at the age of 17, he decided to take a brief break away from flying in order to continue his higher education at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Once he had completed his degree, he worked toward getting his instrument rating with local flight instructor Jeff Williams at SFC using a Cessna 172.

Aerial photos taken by Dwight Paulk
during his time as a Shiloh National Military Park Ranger

After earning his instrument rating at SFC, a friend invited Paulk to carpool with him to train for his commercial single engine license. He knew the next step would be to earn his multi-engine commercial license, which would be easy. He also knew in order to get to the career he wanted, he’d have to build up some serious flight hours.

So, Paulk trained to become a Certified Flight Instructor where he would earn his required hours plus additional compensation. Dwight Paulk credits SFC for being conveniently located and priced affordably for instructors and students. SFC is a great asset to the area in that it’s very convenient and affordable for students to get their licenses and move on to the aviation world where there are high levels of pilot shortages. In fact, many airlines have had to delay or cancel flights because of pilot shortages. The need for trained pilots is ever-growing, and the pay is on a steady incline.

Paulk worked on building up his hours at SFC while simultaneously working as a park ranger at the Shiloh National Military Park. Paulk built up an additional 120 hours at SFC before he started applying to airlines, his top pick being Boutique Air. Boutique Air is an up-and-coming airline that specializes in connecting smaller cities to larger travel hubs. Plus, the airline conveniently flies out of his base airport, Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL). Paulk weighed his options and even got offers from other airlines but ultimately chose to fly for Boutique.

After an intense two-month training program in Denver, Paulk began flying for the airline. He is currently at 700 hours of flying, 800 hours short of the requirement for an Airline Transport Pilot rating, which is the highest level of aircraft pilot license which would qualify him to fly planes weighing over 12,500 pounds. Paulk hopes that Boutique Air will help him reach his goals of flying for more established airlines such as Jet Blue or FedEx Express.

Dwight Paulk is one of several success stories stemming from Shoals Flight Center. SFC takes pride in the fact that not only does the airport offer a viable mode of transportation to other parts of the country, but it also boosts the economy by helping pilots train to enter the workforce.

For flight information check HERE

Presley Price/Shoals Flight Center/Northwest Alabama Regional Airport

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