Alumnus celebrates over 30 years as international airline pilot

A small Cochise College Aviation plane at the Cochise College Douglas Campus

Michael Weymer (‘87), who was raised in Sierra Vista, attended Cochise College to earn his Associate of Science Degree in Aviation. Weymer says the degree opened doors to a future he’d only dreamed about.

“I remember when I was being interviewed for admission into the Aviation Program, the chief flight instructor asked, ‘Why do you want to be a pilot?’ And I said, ‘Well, I want to fly for the airlines one day.’ And they just kind of chuckled. They said, ‘This is cute. He wants to fly for the airlines.’ Which back in 1983, it was unheard of for a civilian pilot to fly for the airlines. At that point in time, most airlines would only hire you if you were a military pilot,” Weymer explained.

After his acceptance into the program, the alumnus said he hunkered down, stayed focused on his future and worked hard both behind the cockpit and in the classroom. He would eventually graduate from Cochise, and in 1985 he transferred to Embry-Riddle where he would earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science.

In the summer of 1985, at the age of 22, Weymer was the youngest pilot to compete in the first Transatlantic Air Rally, which consisted of approximately 70 small airplanes that flew from America to Europe.

“My French teammate and I flew a Cessna 310 from Morristown, New Jersey, to Le Bourget Field in Paris, with overnight stops in Montreal, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland,”
said Weymer.

When the young pilot entered the work force, times had changed, airlines had expanded, and the demand for airline pilots outstripped the supply of military pilots. Around 1988, after Weymer returned to Cochise and spent one year as an instructor of aviation for the college, the airlines started hiring civilian pilots who were flight instructors. And Weymer got his break.

“I started my airline career flying small planes, and then I got moved up to fly bigger planes, and eventually, I moved up as a captain to fly 747s,” says Weymer.

Weymer is currently a pilot for Atlas Air, Inc. and says he’s had a great career.

He says he has a lot of long oceanic-flights. Including one four month stay in Abu Dhabi where the pilot was based.

“…in that four-month period, I flew to six continents, and I flew the distance from the Earth to the Moon and halfway back in a four-month period,” said Weymer.

Weymer also had the opportunity to fly with Lady Gaga and Madonna.

“I was assigned to Lady Gaga and saw her perform in Lima, Peru. I flew her to her concerts in Assunção in Paraguay and to Johannesburg, Africa… And we flew Madonna to her concerts in Brazil and Tel Aviv,” Weymer explained.

Currently, the pilot is flying soldiers in the U.S. military to the Middle East, Europe and back to the United States.

“I’m flying from Cincinnati to Germany, to Bahrain, and then from Bahrain I’m going to Diego Garcia, which is the location of a Naval support facility in the Indian Ocean. After that, I’m taking a trip from Diego Garcia to Bahrain, then flying to Kuwait, back to Germany and then I’m bringing troops home from Germany to New Hampshire,” said Weymer.

Wemer says that his experiences have been one in a lifetime and he’s grateful for Cochise College.

“I have Cochise College to thank for giving me such an excellent start,” said Weymer.
“Cochise College is a great place to start. It provides the quality instruction that’s required to excel in the industry as a pilot… You have to apply all your skills and not give up. A lot of people start in one area, and they get distracted and they lose interest, or somebody talks them out of their dream, and they end up doing something that they didn’t want to do, but you have to stay focused.”

To find out more about the Cochise College Aviation program, visit their website at