Brazilian-born and -raised 33-year-old pilot Captain Joao Roedel knew from an early age that he belonged to airplanes. It was his passion, so he decided why not make a living by doing what he loved.
When he was 17 years old, he began his journey by enlisting in the military, specifically the Brazilian Air Force, where he completed his high school education. He transitioned to civilian life at the age of 20 and began taking flight lessons at a government-based air club in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was a good time for his career; in 2011, the same flight school hired him to begin instructing students in subjects like navigation, meteorology, etc. He previously piloted a Piper and a Cessna.
He began taking courses to become a flight instructor after receiving his commercial pilot’s license. Early in 2012, he began taking students on flights.
By July 2014, he had begun his training as a First Officer on a B737. He had to put in a lot of preparation work for each training session, especially the Initial Type Rating Simulator Training. As a First Officer, he had the opportunity to operate at some interesting airports, including Quito (Ecuador), Saint Maarten, LAX, JFK, Toronto, and others. He also learned about a variety of locations across America. In 2022, after a lot of effort, he was promoted to Captain.
Q.) Your dad was a military pilot, is that why you decided to become a pilot?
Captain Joao: Indeed, my father was a military pilot and I could observe a good part of his professional life when I was little. I was even lucky enough to be in the same airplane. He has flown a few times. Wouldn’t say for sure this was the main reason I decided to become a pilot, maybe in a different environment my passion for Aviation would still be there and develop itself somehow, who know but yes, probably being around airplanes so much have turned my mind to these great machines and had decided to pursue Aviation in my life.
Q.) How does an air force pilot differ from a commercial pilot?
Captain Joao: An air force pilot is first and foremost a military officer. All operations, including airspace defense, are planned in accordance with governmental needs, and this job comes with significant responsibilities and duties that are necessary to serve his or her country. There are typically transport pilots who fly large passenger/cargo aircraft, helicopter pilots, and fighter pilots who fly well-known fighter jets like Falcons, Dassaults, Gripens, etc. There are more exams needed to become an Air Force pilot than there are for commercial airline pilots, including ones for knowledge, physical fitness, and medical compliance. Although we work for private organizations like airlines, air taxis, and executive aviation firms, civilian pilots are still expected to take examinations, stay on continuous training, and be evaluated.
Q.) After obtaining a professional pilot license, you enrolled as a flight instructor and not as a pilot. Why?
Captain Joao: After obtaining my commercial pilot licence, I decided to follow a different course to become a flight instructor. Truth is, and it varies according to one´s location, Airline pilot positions are not always available, and usually these companies require a greater experience level in flight hours and jet aircraft experience. In my case, the best solution to accumulate experience and flying hours was to teach students how to fly, until I could apply for an airline job. This is a common global route for young pilots to gain experience and apply for airlines. In addition, it will give you more confidence, flying skills and a greater sense of responsibility prior to jumping on an airliner.
Q.) What challenges did you face in becoming a pilot?
Captain Joao: The biggest challenges I encountered in my first years as a student pilot were financial ones. I won’t lie; extra courses, exams, and flight and simulator hours come at a price. My parents and I made many sacrifices and put a lot of thought into getting my pilot’s license. And for that, I will always be grateful. A few training phases may also prove to be challenging due to the extensive reading and planning required.
Q.) What’s the difference between being captain?
Captain Joao: Like a manager, a captain keeps an eye on the flightdeck. The pilot is in charge of the aircraft, as well as the crew, the passengers, the cargo, and any emergency or unforeseen situational decisions. My first officer and I are responsible for the safety of everyone seated behind us. The primary goal is safety. A captain is also in charge of flying the plane in accordance with the safety and commercial requirements of the airline, with the aid of all available resources, and by treating the entire crew, which includes the first officer, ramp agents, check-in agents, ground personnel, and cargo workers, as a single crew.
Q.) You have served in various roles over the course of your career. So, what’d you learn?
Captain Joao: “The Importance of Human Factor” is what I have so far learned. No matter how many flight manuals, laws, and standardized operating procedures we have, we still have to deal with people on a daily basis. It is crucial to always be kind to others, support them in their work, actively listen to what they have to say, consider their feedback, and set a good example in complex operations both inside and outside of the airplane. In this profession, we all rely on one another, and by working together, we can always learn something new and develop personally.
Q.) Any advice for budding pilots.
Captain Joao: Be tenacious, is the advice I have for the young and aspiring pilots. When learning to fly and throughout the many years that follow, there may be many obstacles to overcome. But it’s also a very enjoyable time when you meet new people and get to fly an airplane. First off, if you’re still unsure whether a career in aviation is right for you, take a demonstrating flight with a flight instructor. Try it out and you’ll quickly learn the answer. Consult with others in the aviation industry, take note of their experiences, and consider your own career goals. Compared to other pursuits, aviation is a different kind of lifestyle. It involves being in charge, acting as a leader, exercising caution and responsibility, flying at night when everyone is asleep, and occasionally being separated from loved ones. However, I can assure You that there is no other way of life for a passionate pilot, and it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for You.