Aviation Alumni Profiles

Ryan Baer

Ryan Baer

Air Tanker Pilot (fire-fighting)

Ryan Baer came to Rocky after earning his private pilot’s license in Denver, Colorado. He was attracted by Rocky's small class sizes and a chance to get a liberal arts education with a diverse group of students. Read more...

Taylor Capers

Taylor Capers

Agricultural Pilot

Taylor Capers came to Rocky Mountain College as a transfer student, having attended Montana State University for six semesters. Read more...

Tyler Cresswell

Tyler Cresswell

Alaskan Pilot

Tyler Cresswell traveled a long way from his home in Dalton, Pennsylvania, to attend Rocky Mountain College, attracted by the opportunity to learn to fly, ski race, hunt, and fish in beautiful Montana. Read more...

Mike Damrow

Mike Damrow

Corporate Pilot

Mike Damrow is originally from Wisconsin. He transferred to Rocky Mountain College from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and graduated in 2012. Read more...

Lindsey Gray

Lindsey Gray

Humanitarian Pilot in Africa

Lindsey Gray moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, to attend Rocky because of the personalized aviation program. She graduated in 2010 with a double major in Aeronautical Science and Philosophy/Religious Thought. Read more...

Nolan Gudmundson

Nolan Gudmundson

Air National Guard Fighter Pilot

Nolan Gudmundson is an F-16 pilot for the Minnesota Air National Guard. Here is his story. “I was a Montana boy born and raised and having lived in Big Sky Country all of my life, I found it hard to imagine myself going to college anywhere else.” Read more...

Carl Henning

Carl Henning

Air Ambulance Pilot

Carl Henning grew up in the Pacific Northwest flying with his grandfather, which then inspired him to pursue aviation as a career. Carl chose Rocky Mountain College for its small class sizes and high placement rate in the industry. Read more...

Amy Hyde

Amy Hyde

Delta Air Lines Pilot

Amy Hyde came to RMC from Denton, Texas and graduated in 2010. Outside of flying and the classroom she enjoyed weekend trips to the mountains and back country camping trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Read more...

Danielle Jackson

Danielle Jackson

Air Ambulance Pilot

Danielle Jackson came to Rocky Mountain College because of its proximity to home in southeastern Idaho and because it is a small school. She had been is small schools all of her life so it was a perfect fit. Read more...

Ryan Rojeski

Rich Odbert

FedEx Pilot

Rocky Mountain College graduate Rich Odbert flies Boeing 777’s for FedEx based in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s been very involved with aviation outside of the cockpit, including serving as Air Line Pilots Association International's Jumpseat Chair for over five years. Read more...

Ryan Rojeski

Ryan Rojeski

US Navy Fighter Pilot

Ryan Rojeski came to Rocky Mountain College from Spokane, Washington because of the small class sizes and personal touch in his education. At Rocky he was involved in cross country and track and also was in the inaugural class of students studying Unmanned Aerial Systems. Read more...

Lonn Saunders

Lonn Saunders

Corporate Pilot

Lonn grew up in Billings just down the street from Rocky Mountain College. As a non-traditional student, he began classes at Rocky in the winter of 1998 and graduated spring of 2000. Read more...

Kyle Schweissing

Kyle Schweissing

Air Ambulance Pilot in Alaska

Looking for a school where he wouldn’t feel like a number and with other career options besides the airlines, Kyle Schweissing found Rocky Mountain College to be a perfect fit. After graduation, Kyle stayed at Rocky as a flight instructor before heading North to Alaska. Read more...

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

SkyWest Airlines Pilot

Jessica Smith is small-town kid from Montana. Originally from Alberton, Montana, Jessica decided that Rocky Mountain College was a perfect fit for her. Once at Rocky, Jessica got all of her flight ratings within a year and then started teaching as a flight instructor for Rocky when she was a junior. Read more...

Kristen Sprague

Kristen Sprague

Pilot in Alaska

Kristen Sprague came to Rocky Mountain College to pursue her goal of becoming a professional pilot and to play intercollegiate soccer. Coming from a small town in Idaho, she appreciated the smaller class sizes and more personalized education. Read more...

Jason Tobin

Jason Tobin

Horizon Air Pilot

Jason grew up always wanting to fly. Having spent most of his life in Billings, he has memories of being in high school and seeing Rocky's planes fly overhead. That made it an easy choice to go to school at Rocky. Read more...

Ian Turner

Ian Turner

Airport Manager

Ian Turner grew up in Hayden, Idaho and came to Rocky Mountain College right after high school. He was Student Body President at Rocky and was awarded the prestigious President’s Cup when he graduated. Read more...

 


Ryan Baer

Air Tanker Pilot (fire-fighting)

Ryan Baer came to Rocky after earning his private pilot’s license in Denver, Colorado. He was attracted by Rocky's small class sizes and a chance to get a liberal arts education with a diverse group of students. Ryan's most memorable experiences--apart from aviation classes with Scott Wilson--include a class in metalworking with Mark Moak and philosophy classes with Jay Cassell, where he met his future wife, Tasha.

After graduating in 2007 with a BS in Aeronautical Science and a minor in philosophy, Ryan was a flight instructor at Rocky which allowed him to continue gaining valuable flight experience. He landed his first aviation job after college as a Captain at Alpine Aviation, a freight company. He loved flying over the pristine mountain wilderness of western Montana, and fly-fishing and hiking during the day in Kalispell and Missoula.

He and his wife eventually moved to Missoula, where Ryan applied to Neptune Aviation, hoping for a chance to fly the venerable P-2 before it reached retirement. He got the job in 2014, and now spends his summers fighting forest fires with other Rocky grads and his winters hunting and snowshoeing in the mountains surrounding Missoula. Ryan said, "I have an unconventional career that I love and that fits me perfectly. I'm grateful for my experience at Rocky and for a chance to take a lot of classes I wouldn't have had the chance to take at a flight academy."

Ryan Baer

 


Taylor Capers

Agricultural Pilot

Taylor Capers came to Rocky Mountain College as a transfer student, having attended Montana State University for six semesters. He was particularly pleased with the help he received from Rocky getting credits transferred and developing a solid plan to graduate soon. One thing in particular that attracted him to Rocky was the personal attention he received. He said, “There was always a goal and a plan. The people at Rocky were always more than willing to go out of their way to help me. I never felt like I was just a number. I felt involved.”

After graduation, Taylor was hired as an agricultural pilot at Curless Flying Service / Farm Air, Inc., in Illinois. Curless is the Midwest dealer for Air Tractor Aircraft. Taylor is the Chief Pilot and flies the Air Tractor 802 and has flown virtually every ag aircraft produced.

Taylor Capers

 


Tyler Cresswell

Pilot in Alaska

Tyler Cresswell traveled a long way from his home in Dalton, Pennsylvania, to attend Rocky Mountain College, attracted by the opportunity to learn to fly, ski race, hunt, and fish in beautiful Montana. Despite his very busy schedule flying and working, he graduated in three-and-a-half years.

Through networking with previous Rocky graduates, Tyler got an interview and then a job one week after graduation, flying above the Arctic Circle for Ryan Air out of Kotzebue, Alaska.

The primary flying he does is transportation of every kind of cargo needed in remote areas of Alaska. Ryan Air moves everything from groceries and mail, to caribou meat and oil drill rigs, on and off airport, in one of the most remote areas in America.

Flying in Montana helped prepare him for his new career, but he also credits the instruction and mentoring he received at Rocky. Tyler commented, “The training I received at Rocky set me up for success in the challenging environment of Alaska. The relationships I was able to foster with my teachers, flight instructors, and peers at Rocky led directly to getting my foot in the door in the aviation industry. The ground instruction at Rocky put me miles ahead of the competition, particularly in aircraft systems and power plants, taught by Professor Clete Knaub. All of these factors together make my decision to choose Rocky one of the best decisions I've ever made."

Tyler Cresswell

 


Mike Damrow

Corporate Pilot

Mike Damrow is originally from Wisconsin.  He transferred to Rocky Mountain College from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and graduated in 2012. He worked as a flight instructor at Rocky for two years while still a student and shortly after graduation and was very quickly hired as a First Officer flying the 71 passenger Dash8 / Q-400 on the east coast for Republic Airlines.

After flying there for a year-and-a-half he found his current job as a corporate pilot near his hometown in Wisconsin flying a Bombardier Challenger 300 all over North America for Ashley Furniture. The Challenger 300 cruises at .83 Mach at 45,000 feet and is very capable.

Mike very much enjoys his lifestyle, the high quality flying he does and getting to live near home. Reflecting on his education, he said, “Rocky Mountain College Flight Operations gave me a unique opportunity to be part of a safety-minded culture that provided both personal attention and professional training. I was well prepared.”

Mike Damrow

 


Lindsey Gray

Humanitarian Pilot in Africa

Lindsey Gray moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, to attend Rocky because of the personalized aviation program. She graduated in 2010 with a double major in Aeronautical Science and Philosophy / Religious Thought. She was Student Body President and also obtained her dispatcher certificate. She worked for Rocky as a flight instructor for three out of four of her years as a college student.

Lindsey now works as a pilot/mechanic for a non-profit Christian organization called Africa Inland Mission (AIM AIR). She lives in Nairobi, Kenya flying people, cargo, and supplies to remote locations in East Africa. (Lindsey did an internship with AIM AIR in Nairobi the summer after her junior year at Rocky.)

Lindsey commented, "Rocky provided an avenue to accelerate my flight training. I was able to fly with quality instructors in a professional environment. The training I received in the classroom and in the cockpit prepared me for my future career in aviation. I'm continually thankful for the investment each professor and instructor made in teaching and encouraging me along the way."

Lindsey Gray

 


Nolan Gudmundson

Air National Guard Fighter Pilot

Nolan Gudmundson is an F-16 pilot for the Minnesota Air National Guard. Here is his story.

"I was a Montana boy born and raised and having lived in Big Sky Country all of my life," said Gudmundson, "I found it hard to imagine myself going to college anywhere else. While I did look at other programs, none of them had the hometown feel like Rocky did. I talked to Embry-Riddle and other programs of similar nature and while the training there seems adequate, I was drawn to Rocky’s personal aspect. I’ve heard it from others that going through a program like ERAU, you are more or less of a number. At Rocky, everyone knew my name and would not hesitate to help in any way."

"Rocky does a great job with preparing students for life after college. Most every professor is accessible most any part of the day and they are incredible easy to talk with. I truly valued the fact that during a class, I didn’t feel like I was just checking a box to get my degree but rather learning valuable information that I was able to utilize outside of college."

"After graduating from Rocky in 2011, I continued to work at Edwards Jet Center as a line tech and started my road with obtaining a pilot training spot with the Air National Guard. After moving to Portland, OR, I continued my career progression while working as a flight coordinator for an aeromedical company out of Hillsboro, OR. I planned international flights for several Lear 36s. I got my CFI in 2013 and started teaching out of Troutdale, OR with Hillsboro Aviation. During the middle of that I was a co-pilot on a Citation Mustang and a Citation CJ3 doing aeromedical flights (different company). I was then picked up with the Minnesota Air National Guard out of Duluth, MN in 2014 to fly F-16’s. I got my commission September 2014 and started Air Force pilot training at Vance AFB in 2015 and received my Air Force wings in April 2016. I then began training in the F-16, which of course I love."

"Rocky gave me the tools to succeed in an ever changing career field. Not only did I get an industry leading education through a reputable institution, I was also given life experiences that prepared me to become the pilot that I wanted to be and the military officer I became."

Nolan Gudmundson

 


Carl Henning

Air Ambulance Pilot

Carl Henning grew up in the Pacific Northwest flying with his grandfather, which then inspired him to pursue aviation as a career.

Carl chose Rocky Mountain College for its small class sizes and high placement rate in the industry. “The ability to easily approach my teachers outside of class was a huge part of my success,” he said. He accomplished his Private through Multi-engine Ratings under Rocky’s Part 141 curriculum. “I really enjoyed the structure Part 141 training provided, since I knew exactly what to expect. No matter who I was with, the standard was the same.” While attending Rocky, Carl built local connections by working for Edwards Jet Center as a lineman. This gave him the opportunity to network with charter pilots at Edwards as well as many private and corporate pilots.

Currently, Carl is employed by Edwards Jet Center as a Medevac Copilot, flying a King Air 200 for St. Vincent Hospital, in Billings, MT. He added, “The skills I learned at Rocky, particularly Crew Resource Management and Advanced Aircraft Systems, have given me the ability to succeed.”

Carl Henning

 


Amy Hyde

Delta Air Lines Pilot

Amy Hyde came to RMC from Denton, Texas and graduated in 2010. Outside of flying and the classroom she enjoyed weekend trips to the mountains and back country camping trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. She was hired as a flight instructor for Rocky during her senior year and was hired at the airlines just 7 months after graduation. She flew Canadair Regional jets for SkyWest Airlines based out of Salt Lake City, Utah until the winter of 2015, when she was hired by Delta Air Lines. At 26, Amy was the youngest pilot hired at Delta in recent years. She will retire # 1 on the seniority list at Delta Air Lines.

Amy said, “Rocky helped prepare me for a successful career as an airline pilot. The small class sizes and one-on-one attention from the professors and instructors is what makes Rocky stand out from other aviation schools. I had the best instruction both in the classroom and in the airplane. Specialized classes such as Advanced Aerodynamics and Aviation Professional Development were a great asset to me when interviewing at the airlines. They were especially helpful at Delta Air Lines, which is extremely competitive and values aviation fundamentals a great deal. I am thankful for the great education that I received at Rocky both in the classroom and in the air, but I am mostly grateful for the connections and friendships that I have made throughout the years.”

Mike Damrow

 


Danielle Jackson

Air Ambulance Pilot

Danielle Jackson came to Rocky Mountain College because of its proximity to home in southeastern Idaho and because it is a small school. She had been is small schools all of her life so it was a perfect fit.

In addition to aviation classes, Danielle enjoyed taking a few classes in the Equestrian Program. Having grown up on Air Force bases all over the country, she didn’t get very many chances to be around horses. She remembers fondly the experiences learning to ride and handle them well.

While still a student, Danielle worked customer service at Edwards Jet Center, a full-service FBO at the Billings Airport. A few months after graduation she was hired to fly various King Air aircraft for the charter department at Edwards Jet Center.

A couple of years later she transferred to the St Vincent Hospital Help Flight contract, flying a King Air B200. A couple of years after that she obtained her Airline Transport Pilot certificate and recently upgraded to Captain on the King Air.

When asked what she liked best about Rocky, Danielle said, “I like how small aviation classes were, and subsequently, the one-on-one support from instructors and professors. It was great building personal relationships with my teachers and instructors and I felt comfortable calling them after class hours if I had a question or a problem. I also feel the non-flying aviation classes were very beneficial, like aviation ethics, law and safety. Our training in the vicinity of mountains and Class C airspace has also given my resume a leg-up.”

Danielle Jackson

 


Rich Odbert

FedEx Pilot

Rocky Mountain College graduate Rich Odbert flies Boeing 777’s for FedEx based in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s been very involved with aviation outside of the cockpit, including serving as Air Line Pilots Association International's Jumpseat Chair for over five years. At FedEx he has served as Jumpseat Committee chair, Security Committee liaison, and is a member of the FedEx Security Event Review Committee. He created and chaired an ALPA Operational Oversight Committee, acting as a direct liaison between line captains and VP-level flight management. He also is an FAA Standards Check Airman and Instructor pilot in the FedEx Air Operations Training Center.

Before FedEx, he flew for America West Airlines, Air Wisconsin Airlines, Mountain Air Express, Big Sky Airlines, Air Methods air ambulance and Alpine Aviation.

Rich has served on the RMC Aviation Industry Advisory Committee for many years. "Rocky provided excellent, student focused aviation and professional training, while maintaining a small class environment," said Rich. "Additionally the instructors were not only highly accomplished professors, but they were all also experienced retired military officers and airline pilots. That combined with the western culture, lifestyle and unique flying opportunities in Montana—simply made it my preferred choice. Operators that continue to be based in Billings are also a unique and valued part of the whole Rocky package for prospective students. I loved my experience and friendships at Rocky, and am proud that it’s part of my aviation background. My only regret is that I don’t get back there enough.”

Rich Odbert

 


Ryan Rojeski

US Navy Fighter Pilot

Ryan Rojeski came to Rocky Mountain College from Spokane, Washington because of the small class sizes and personal touch in his education. At Rocky he was involved in cross country and track and also was in the inaugural class of students studying Unmanned Aerial Systems. During his senior year he was selected for U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School and for Navy pilot training. Currently he’s half-way through training, is his Class Leader and is at the top of his class.

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Ryan recently told us, “Rocky prepared me well for the aviation community and life after graduation. Training at Rocky instilled confidence in me and my skills. The procedures and training that take place at Rocky are the absolute best. Whenever there is a simulated emergency in the aircraft, I am able to calmly, confidently, and quickly handle the situation because it is what I was taught at Rocky. I cannot thank you enough or tell you how much Rocky has helped and prepared me.”

Ryan Rojeski

 


Lonn Saunders

Corporate Pilot

Lonn grew up in Billings just down the street from Rocky Mountain College.

As a non-traditional student, he began classes at Rocky in the winter of 1998 and graduated spring of 2000. Thanks to the aviation program’s close relationship with Big Sky Airlines, he was hired as a line pilot in the fall of 2000.

In 2004, Lonn followed the industry push for growth in the regional jet market and very quickly became a captain at Pinnacle Airlines flying the CRJ. He returned to Big Sky in 2006 to be their Chief Flight Instructor. After only a year, he was enticed to fly as a corporate pilot in a new Pilatus PC12. In that position, Lonn was fortunate to fly to some very cool destinations including Central and South America.

His current position is managing and flying a privately owned Pilatus out of Billings to places primarily around the Northwest and to Mexico.

“Rocky is a family that I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of,” said Lonn. “My education from Rocky continues to be one the greatest assets to my aviation career and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the foundation Rocky gave me.”

Lonn Saunders

 


Kyle Schweissing

Air Ambulance Pilot in Alaska

Looking for a school where he wouldn’t feel like a number and with other career options besides the airlines, Kyle Schweissing found Rocky Mountain College to be a perfect fit. After graduation, Kyle stayed at Rocky as a flight instructor before heading North to Alaska. Flying for a small airline out of Nome, Alaska, Kyle found the challenging start to his career that he had been looking for. From landing on the frozen ocean, to flying in and out of Russia, Kyle found that the well-rounded education he had obtained at Rocky prepared him for pretty much any kind of flying he wanted to do.

In addition to the technical instruction he received at Rocky, Kyle found that the, “outside of the box,” education he gained was even more valuable. “Rocky not only offers the finest in technical expertise but an education for all aspects of a successful career; everything from making ethical decisions, to the do’s and don’ts of living your life as a professional aviator. Every one of my professors brought their own expertise to the table and really cared about my success in their classrooms. With the personalized attention I received, it was hard for me to not keep up with my studies. And if that wasn’t enough, the networking I did while at Rocky has gotten me the interview at all three of the different companies I have flown for thus far in my career.”

Kyle currently flies a Learjet 31A jet aircraft. He is based in Juneau, Alaska and is an Air Ambulance Pilot for Airlift Northwest.

Kyle Schweissing

 


Jessica Smith

SkyWest Airlines Pilot

Jessica Smith is small-town kid from Montana. Originally from Alberton, Montana, Jessica decided that Rocky Mountain College was a perfect fit for her. Once at Rocky, Jessica got all of her flight ratings within a year and then started teaching as a flight instructor for Rocky when she was a junior. In between her junior and senior years, Jessica completed an internship for SkyWest Airlines. This internship was instrumental in developing a lasting relationship with SkyWest that eventually led to her getting hired by SkyWest in 2010 to fly the Embraer Brasilia as a first officer. She then transitioned to the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) as a first officer.

After four years with the airline, Jessica earned a position as Captain on the CRJ, and she currently operates as a captain out of Minneapolis International Airport. Jessica said, “I know that my education at Rocky Mountain College has helped me to succeed in this industry. I know that the aviation specific courses in college have set me apart from pilots who did not receive such training. Even today, there are things that come up in daily operations that I understand better than most pilots because of my education at Rocky.”

Jessica specifically mentions that the Air Carrier Operations course, the Crew Resource Management course, and the Aircraft Powerplants/Systems courses have been of great use throughout the entirety of her career. Enthusiastically, Jessica claims, “I am so incredibly grateful to be able to say that I have a job that I love. I cannot imagine doing anything else. This truly is a dream come true. And it was Rocky that helped me to get here. I couldn’t have done it without this education! Thank you Rocky Mountain College.”

Jessica Smith

 


Kristen Sprague

Pilot in Alaska

Kristen Sprague came to Rocky Mountain College to pursue her goal of becoming a professional pilot and to play intercollegiate soccer. Coming from a small town in Idaho, she appreciated the smaller class sizes and more personalized education. Playing on the soccer team was a major highlight for Kristen, making friends from all over the world through the excellent recruiting from other countries.

After graduation, Kristen flew skydivers in Idaho. A friend from Rocky contacted her about a job flying in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was thrilled about the job, packed her belongings, and moved to Fairbanks. She was furloughed after 9 months flying the SD3-30 Sherpa and was quickly picked up by a company in western Alaska. Based in Bethel, Kristen enjoyed flying the Casa 212 and Cessna 207 aircraft for a Part 135 operator. After two and a half years in the bush, she decided to make the jump to a Part 121 operator. She now flies for Empire Airlines, a FedEx feeder company. She is a captain in the ATR 42 and 72 and is based in Anchorage.

About her time at RMC, Kristen said, "I had very little aviation knowledge before I attended Rocky. The aviation program supplied me with all the tools I needed to become a professional pilot. I think they did a spectacular job preparing me for a career in aviation."

Kristen Sprague

 


Jason Tobin

Horizon Air Pilot

Jason grew up always wanting to fly. Having spent most of his life in Billings, he has memories of being in high school and seeing Rocky's planes fly overhead. That made it an easy choice to go to school at Rocky.

"Once there," said Jason, "I realized how great the school and programs actually are. From one-on-one time with professors or advisors, to the flexibility to fly extra flight slots, it was easy to continue to try to learn more and more while still trying new things."

"The aviation program was everything I wanted and more. The professors were extremely knowledgeable and have great experiences to share. The flight instructors all took pride in the fact that they were teaching an important skill. By the time I graduated and built my experience as an instructor, I felt more than prepared for my interview with Horizon Air. The flying skills I gained and the classes I took at Rocky all have relevance to my job as an airline pilot today. I couldn't have asked for a better school to prepare me for my future than Rocky!"

Jason was a flight instructor at Rocky during his senior year and the year after graduation and then was hired at Horizon Airlines. While at Rocky, he worked the ramp for Horizon at the Billings Airport. He flies the Bombardier Q400 out of Portland.

Jason Tobin

 


Ian Turner

Airport Manager

Ian Turner grew up in Hayden, Idaho and came to Rocky Mountain College right after high school. He was Student Body President at Rocky and was awarded the prestigious President’s Cup when he graduated. Besides student government, he was also involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Rocky Mountain College Band where he played the French horn. His best memories at Rocky involve the friends he met and events he attended while involved in these groups.

Originally he planned to be a professional pilot but after becoming a private pilot during his freshman year, he decided he still loved aviation but wanted a career outside of the cockpit. He changed his major to Aviation Management and triple minored in Aeronautical Science, Business, and History. He was selected for an internship at the Bismarck, ND airport which led him to a position as an Airport Operations Specialist at Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, Washington. He now works as the Airport Operations Supervisor at Stockton Metropolitan Airport in Stockton, California. According to Ian, "Every day at an airport is a new one. I never know what to expect from each work day. I could be planning for the Super Bowl, organizing airport construction activities, or dealing with wildlife on the airport. It's all exciting and keeps me on the edge of my seat."

About his education at Rocky, Ian says, “The airport industry requires knowledge about so much outside of aviation. Rocky gave me that broad knowledge to be successful in managing an airport."

Ian Turner

 


 
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