November is Aviation History Month, a time to reflect on how aviation has transformed from the earliest attempts in kites and gliders to today’s more modern day aircraft.
At the controls of one of today’s more modern day machines--jumbo jets--is Cleveland-area resident First Officer Marcus Kilgore. With the end to the Thanksgiving Holiday, Kilgore could have been one of the pilots getting you to and from your destination.
I sat down this month and talked with the Southwest Airlines pilot about his passion for flying.
A husband and father of two sons, ages 9 and 5, Kilgore says his love for airplanes goes all the way back to making paper airplanes while growing up in South Carolina. It would be the beginning to a rewarding career. “My mother always encouraged me to follow my dreams,” he said.
While there are many jobs in the aviation field, Kilgore says he was intrigued by the massive size of a plane. “I’ve always been fascinated with the freedom of flight and the ability of man to control a machine that large from takeoff to landing.” The opportunity to travel, see the world and meet lots of people--not to mention the pay and benefits—he added, make for a rewarding career.
First Officer Kilgore has been flying for 13 years, and been a pilot for 10. He’s worked for three airlines, including his current employer Southwest Airlines.
The road to becoming a pilot, took Kilgore from South Carolina to Averett University in Virginia, where he earned an Air Traffic Control degree. From there, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Manufacturing from Kent State University in 1996.
As a father, Kilgore says just as his mother inspired him to follow his dreams, he speaks that same message into the hearts of his own sons--always teaching them the importance of good decisions and how the not-so-good decisions, come with consequences.
Everyday I tell my boys I love them and that they can do whatever their heart desires. They understand there are no boundaries holding them back and with hard work and determination, they can achieve anything."
Outside of his job as a pilot, Kilgore is the Director of the Cleveland Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy, a weeklong camp, sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Students visit various aviation facilities in the Cleveland/Akron area, participate in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities, and get an introductory flight in a single engine airplane. Parents and students can click here for more information about the ACE Academy, and guidelines on how to apply.
He encourages students to take school seriously. If you have an interest in aviation, he stresses the importance of keeping up your grades in math and science.
From making paper airplanes to sitting at the controls of a jet, Kilgore has always believed the sky is the limit.