PILOT ERIC WILKINS “MAKING PILGRIMAGE” TO EAA AIRVENTURE
Given both his parents are air traffic controllers, Eric Wilkins’ passion for aviation just might be genetic. He’s also something of an aviation polymath given how his career has unfolded. In 2008, he signed up for the U.S. Army Reserve intent on becoming a warrant officer and was accepted into flight training in 2012 with only a private pilot’s license.
“The Army Reserve has been a great opportunity to grow both as a person and a pilot,” says Eric. “There are so many opportunities to use something you love to help people in your community as a Reservist or a Guardsman and still have a full time job.”
As a fully-certified helicopter pilot, Eric flew the JetRanger, the OH-58 Kiowa and the iconic Blackhawk. And then his aviation career took another turn. He joined Envoy Air’s Rotor Transition Program which the regional airline is using to help ease the shortage of pilots by offering fixed-wing training to Military Rotary Wing Aviators. As a military pilot, Eric qualified for a restricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) licence. Earlier this year he was awarded a full ATP licence.
At Envoy he pilots Embraer 140s and 145s and also flies a King Air 200 for the Army Reserve.
“The King Air is absolutely one of the most beautifully flying planes I have ever flown,” he says. “It’s an amazing mix of power, responsiveness and flexibility. The PT6A is the muscle that powers the aircraft and its simplicity and reliability are unique.”
On July 25th, Eric will be making his way to EAA AirVenture (aka Oshkosh) and will stay until the end of the show. “Oshkosh is not just an airshow,” he says, “it’s a pilgrimage made by hundreds of thousands of people every year. For a few days, I share my passion with pilots and enthusiasts from all over the world. You will see things that you would never see elsewhere.” And of course true to form and genetics, he is irresistibly drawn to the sound of aircraft engines… the soundtrack of AirVenture.