Soaring toward greatness: Preston Burgard’s plans to become a pilot


Photo Courtesy of Preston Burgard

For many high school seniors, their final year can be stressful with decisions to make for the future. But for Preston Burgard, his plans have been in action since 2018. Flying high, Burgard plans to continue training as a pilot.

This year’s Trinity graduates will take many paths in life but, senior Preston Burgard will continue pursuing a career as a pilot.
He expressed, “I’m excited, but not nervous. I have it planned out.”
He first decided to follow this path in October of 2018, when he flew with United Airlines to the state of California for his birthday.
He said piloting, “pays well, is uncommon and I have fun doing it.”
Salaries for different types of pilots vary. For a private pilot in Pennsylvania, the average salary is $98,377 (as of 2022), according to ZipRecruiter. For an airline or commercial pilot in the US, the average salary is $134,630 (as of 2022), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Burgard recently finished his private training at the Washington County Airport and is now completing instrument training. On August 1, 2022, he will be traveling to Jacksonville, FL, to attend ATP Flight School.
To be a pilot, one doesn’t need to have a college degree, but it does require training. Although a bachelor’s degree can help with employment, Burgard said the most important things are learning the basics of flying and getting a rating.
According to, a certificate is necessary for both private commercial pilots. From there, supplemental ratings and/or endorsements can be received, both of which increase employment opportunities through permitting the pilot to perform certain additional tasks.
Being a pilot also requires certain traits. Burgard expressed that having an outgoing personality is essential.
On, Erol Sevim, a Grade 1, Multi-Engine, IFR Flight Instructor remarked, “Confidence doesn’t only apply to flying, but it also applies to how you compose yourself pre and post flight.” Sevim described his “8 Key Personality Traits of Successful Pilots,” as situationally aware, calm, confident, studious, humble, resilient, coordinated and efficient.
For a final note, Burgard commented, “It’s not as easy as you’d think, but stay one step ahead of the plane and don’t give up.”