Aviation Building, 1800
Graduates of the Cochise College avionics and professional pilot technology programs are scattered the world over. They work for major airlines, government agencies and contractors, air freight services, and corporate aviation companies.
Read their stories to find out if a career in aviation is for you!
Junior Captain, Mesa Air Group
A junior captain for Mesa Air Group based in Chicago, former Cochise College student pilot Wesley Cash flies CRJs 200, 700, and 900 for United Express and other airlines in the group.
“I’m occasionally needed in the AmericaWest/USAirways systems as well, to fly the 900,” Cash says. “It’s pretty similar to the 700, but has a ramp weight of about 10,000 pounds more and holds 20 more people. They’re all a blast to fly!”
Flying regularly as a child inspired Cash to become a pilot. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, he’s regularly in the air and recently earned 1,000 hours as a jet captain. He also credits his experience at Cochise College for helping him pursue his lifelong dream.
“None of it would be possible without the Cochise College flight instructors,” Cash says. “Their patience, knowledge, and dedication has helped me and many others get where we are today.”
First Officer, SkyWest Airlines, Tucson
A native of Sierra Vista and current resident of Hereford, Malcolm Powers left the Cochise College flight training program in 2000 and now has more than 3,000 hours on a Canadair regional jet.
After completing his Cochise College training, Powers became a flight instructor for both Cochise College and Mesa Air Pilot Development (Farmington, N.M.) before working as a first officer for American Eagle Airlines in New York and joining SkyWest.
Starting with zero flight time and no experience, Powers occasionally turns to his Cochise College mentors – Belinda Burnett and Charles Perry – to ask questions relating to the field of aviation.
“I feel like I am family when I return to visit Cochise College, and I have no regrets about choosing aviation as a career.”
Site Lead, AAI Services, AAI Corp.
Field Service Representative, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii
Carlos Villicana started studying avionics as a high school student and completed the program a year after graduation.
Offered a full-time position as an avionics technician following an internship with Bombardier, Tucson, he decided instead to go back to Cochise College to study aviation maintenance technology. As an AMT student, he worked to maintain aircraft on campus and also worked weekends with AAI Corp., a leading manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
After completing the AMT program in 2002, Villicana joined AAI full-time, working his way up from engineering tech and unmanned system specialist II before landing in his current position. Villicana’s new career has taken him to a number of global destinations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he is currently based in Oahu, Hawaii, and deployed overseas.
“The Cochise College program and instructors taught me the very skills needed to be successful in the aviation and UAV fields.”
Aviation Building, 1800