Les soloed before he was able to legally drive and subsequently earned his private pilot license at age 17. He was a line boy at the local airport, pumping gas, towing airplanes out of hangars, washing and waxing, and supervising the office cash register while saving his pennies for flight training. He attended the Purdue University School of Aviation Technology, instructing and flying charters to help pay for his education. Shortly after graduation, Les was hired by an Allegheny Commuter in Jamestown, New York. After being furloughed, he was hired by another Allegheny Commuter operating Twin Otters. Les went from the left seat of the Twin Otter to the right seat of a 727, flying night freight for a contract carrier operating UPS airplanes. After a brief employment and furlough as a 727 flight engineer for Wien Air Alaska, Les was hired by his current airline.