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Laid-off plant worker soars to new career as commercial pilot

Posted May 26

After being let go from his job building parts for Ford trucks, Victor Dukuh decided to pursue his dream of being a pilot.

This article was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Community Colleges.

Commercial airline pilot Victor Dukuh recalls how only a few short years ago, his life changed after he was let go from his position at a plant building parts for Ford trucks.

"When I was laid off," he said, "instead of seeing it as a major blow, I chose to see it as an opportunity to pursue my lifelong dream of being a pilot."

In 1998, Dukuh and his family left Ghana in West Africa. They settled in North Carolina and began working hard to achieve their piece of the American dream. Even as he worked 12-hour night shifts in the manufacturing plant, Dukuh was developing a plan to become a pilot.

"I spent hours in my off-time practicing on the Microsoft Flight Simulator," he recalled. "This software let me practice flying and landing different common aircrafts, and showed me I had the ability to actually do this."

Making the Dream a Reality

Dukuh said he began doing online research to find the best path to becoming a pilot in the Triad area of North Carolina. This led him to apply for an associate's degree program at Guilford Tech Community College.

After being accepted, he began to study and train for a career in aviation through the program. Local flight schools covered parts of the training outside of class, and certifications he received would then count as credits towards the degree.

When asked about his time at GTCC, Dukuh said, “It's the professors that make the program so successful. They are dedicated to the students and to the school."

After graduation, Dukuh took a 90-day course to become a flight instructor, adding to his training. The Triad Aviation Academy hired him on as an instructor, where he enjoyed three years of experience training prospective pilots. He said it was a rewarding job as he was able to help others achieve their dreams to become certified pilots, just as he had recently done.

Commercial Airline Pilot

In February 2014, however, Dukuh decided it was time to move on and joined Mesa Airlines as a commercial pilot.

Mesa Airlines provides crew to American Airlines and United Airlines. They have bases in Washington, D.C., Dallas, Houston and Phoenix. He has now reached the rank of captain and flies a CRJ-900 out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

"I'd encourage people interested to look into becoming a pilot," Dukuh remarked when asked about life as a pilot. "There is a lot of demand, and [GTCC] is considered one of the best places to get your start."

Dukuh said he is grateful to GTCC and its associate's degree in Aviation Management and Career Pilot Technology Program for making his dream of becoming a pilot a reality.

"I'm now really happy with my career in the aviation field and see being laid off from the plant as a blessing in disguise."

This article was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Community Colleges.

1 Comment

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  • Wayne Hill Aug 8, 8:29 a.m.
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    Legal immigrants believe more in the American dream than entitled Snowflakes. Pro-tip young men and ladies, there is a shortage of pilots. If you are good at math and have great eye sight a great career is available.