Josh Rice graduated from Florida Tech in 2012 with his bachelor’s degree in aviation management with flight. Today Josh flies as a First Officer for PSA Airlines. We met up with Josh at the 2016 Melbourne Air and Space Show where he was standing next to one of PSA Airlines’ brand new CRJ-900 aircraft.
What brought you to the Melbourne Air and Space Show this year?
As an FIT Alumni I want to help the current flight students any way I can. I have done several visits at FIT and FIT Aviation to give guidance to future aviators and to help them develop their plans for the future. I had been to the airshow in years past and knew flying one of our newest aircraft in for display would be a big hit. We were able to provide tours to the students and employees over at FITA and we met thousands of people from all walks of life during the show. It was such a great event and people loved to see our new airplane.
How was your experience with Florida Tech? Were you well prepared for a career as an aviator?
I loved my time at Florida Tech, between the wonderful professors and instructors, the beautiful campus, and state of the art technology I feel I came out with the best aviation degree in the country. I was nervous to start my training at the airlines but with the foundation I had at FIT, I found that training was a breeze. I remember finishing and thinking to myself, “Is that it? When does the hard stuff start?”
What did you have to have, in terms of ratings, hours, etc., to get where you are now?
At FIT I earned my private, instrument, commercial multi-engine and flight instructor ratings. After that I was hired as a flight instructor and was able to earn hours while passing down my knowledge. It was such a fantastic feeling to see one of my students solo for the first time or to see pictures of them flying commercial aircraft.
Can you describe a day in the life?
I love flying early morning flights and being up in the air to watch the sunrise every morning. After arriving at the airport I do a walk around of the airplane and begin to program the cockpit for our flight. We typically fly 3 to 4 flights each day and the captain and I rotate who is the pilot flying and the pilot monitoring. At the end of the day we get to explore whatever city we are staying in for the night. It’s incredible to have the opportunity to fly into and see so many different areas of the country and the world. My schedule will typically be 4 days of flying followed by 2 to 3 days off. At PSA I have great scheduling flexibility and I can set my schedule how I like it. In March I had 17 days off in a row.
What does the future of your career look like?
My future at PSA and with American Airlines is very bright. My dream is to be flying internationally for American. PSA has a well-defined path to American Airlines with their direct flow through program. When it is my turn to flow I’ll just be placed into the next new hire class, there isn’t even an interview.
What advice would you give to young people who want to become professional pilots themselves?
I’d say my biggest advice is to never lose the passion. This is such a great time to be a pilot but it can be easy to become discouraged. Don’t let a bad lesson or experience slow you down. I’ve had many of my friends leave aviation to try other things and wish they hadn’t stopped flying. Try new things, meet new people. Some of the best opportunities I had were from being in the right place at the right time. Go take a new course. Try out aerobatics or get your seaplane rating!