Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. While most of us spend our lives chasing that sentiment, Jenna Achtzehn lives it. At just 23 years old, Achtzehn has one of the coolest gigs around—she’s the delivery pilot for Cirrus Aircraft. Oh, and she’s also the youngest female Vision Jet type-rated pilot.
To achieve such monumental success at a young age, you’d think Achtzehn might know a few contacts in the industry, but that isn’t the case. In fact, Achtzehn doesn’t even come from an aviation family—she’s a first-generation pilot. Her fascination with aviation began from watching airline flights above her home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania—a small town 33 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Eventually, curiosity got the best of her, and she was hooked on flying since her first discovery flight—a 14th birthday gift from her mom.
In a few short years, Achtzehn dove into training and obtained her private pilot certificate following high school graduation. While most of her peers stuck to the traditional route of building time to pursue an airline career, Achtzehn opted for the road less taken—a decision that eventually led her to a career at Cirrus.
Tagging along for a friend’s transition training at Cirrus’ Knoxville campus, Achtzehn got a first-hand look at the company’s Vision Center and hub for customer experience—it was love at first sight. “Seeing the state-of-the-art campus for the first time, touring the facility, and meeting such a welcoming staff, I knew I wanted to work at Cirrus,” Achtzehn said.
Set on getting her foot in the door, she took a job working at the campus’ retail store but quickly moved up as an SR20/22 delivery pilot and now is the manufacturer’s Vision Jet delivery pilot.
“If you are given an opportunity, or see one in front of you, take it and run with it,” she said.
Of course, it hasn’t always been blue skies on her journey. Achtzehn wasn’t immune to the challenges that come with flight training and obtaining ratings, including: juggling college classes in high school, planning around weather and maintenance, and coordinating instructor schedules, all while balancing a social life.
These days, Achtzehn spends most of her time ensuring a seamless transition for customers taking delivery of their new aircraft. While she admits every day is different, a typical delivery day at Cirrus includes preflighting the aircraft, greeting customers, driving them to the hangar, and reviewing logbooks before heading out on an acceptance flight.
Many customers are first-time aircraft owners, and Achtzehn enjoys sharing in their excitement when they see their new plane. Getting a more personal touch with the customer is one of the reasons the private side of aviation appeals to her so much.
Achtzehn is just one example of where aviation can take you and the doors it can open for aspiring aviators. Like any 23-year-old, she’s unsure where her career will take her, but for now, she’s living her dream.
“I’m a little bit biased, but so far, it’s the Vision Jet. Having the ability to be up, [flying as a] single pilot… I just think it’s going to be a really fun airplane to get flight time in and build my experience.”
Favorite Cirrus paint scheme?
“My favorite color is Mykonos—it’s a rich blue. Just don’t ask me to spell it!”
Bucketlist Airport Destination?
“Aspen, Colorado. Mountain training in the jet begins in March, so I’m hoping I can check it off the list.”