On March 20, 2014 Brandon Sawyer, son of Beth and Bernice Sawyer and grandson of well-known Abaconian Jack Lowe, completed an intensive course at Bristow Academy in Titusville, Florida becoming the first known certified Bahamian Helicopter Instructor.
Now twenty-six years-old, Brandon began his helicopter career in 2012, fulfilling a lifelong dream. The program included Private Pilot, Instrument Rating and Commercial License. He passed the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) course at the same day he completed the Professional Pilot Program.
“The Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) course was a very challenging experience and I learned a lot about aviation and a lot more about myself,” he said. “Through the fundamentals of instructing it exposed me to the process of learning and human behavior and how it impacts aviation, allowing me to evaluate risks to become a safer pilot.”
He is planning now to go to Pensacola, Florida to do helicopter tours with a company called the Wrong Brothers Flight Training Wing and will help as a helicopter instructor as well.
When he goes back he will look to get his fixed wing pilots license as well, which may also make him a the first dual rated Bahamian pilot.
Brandon said he did not have a smooth path to his dream and said he had to overcome some adversities. “I have had to push; when things were against me I remembered that any dead fish can drift downstream, but it takes a live fish to swim up it. I kept pushing forward and never gave up on what I wanted to do.”
He encouraged young people to “look for your hopes and dreams in a way to get there, and when you get to where you want to be, keep looking forward. Don’t ever settle for something you don’t want.”
He said it has been a really challenging and rewarding experience and he has met a lot of good friends from across the world at Bristow Academy.
He said he is grateful to the Designated Practical Examiner (DPE) Dave Thompson – a Vietnam Veteran who had 27,000 hours in flight time and a very experienced guy – who was “extremely tough to please and a good example to follow.” He added that the instructors he had, particularly Ross Ansell and Tony Ring, were “a tremendous influence on me and helped make me a better pilot.”
He said he is thankful to the many persons who supported and encouraged him while pursuing his dream, especially his parents.
Brandon said “It’s a beautiful thing; learning to fly and aviation. Once you have flown you will forever walk the ground with your eyes skyward.”
“It’s something freeing and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”