Luke Maddox: Living His Childhood Dream

Utah native Luke Maddox was working as a Spanish teacher when he realized he needed a career change.

Luke Wendover
Luke posing with a Blue Angels planeLuke Maddox

Utah native Luke Maddox was working as a Spanish teacher when he realized he needed a career change. “When I finished my bachelor’s degree I started into a graduate program, and did a year of that,” he says. Something gnawed at him, though, as he recalled his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. “I thought, Wow, I’d really rather be flying.”

A little over a year later, in fall 2016, he began his private pilot training at ATP. “I looked into Part 141 schools and even did Air Force ROTC for one semester, but none of those options felt right,” he says. Today, he works as the lead flight instructor at ATP’s Ogden, Utah, location, where he earned all of his certificates and ratings. “I coordinate check rides and make sure everyone’s happy and doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he says. Luke also flies on a regular basis with several commercial and multiengine students.

2003, John and Luke at AF museum
Luke at the Air Force museum in 2003Luke Maddox

Luke says what he enjoys most about instructing in Ogden is the variety of flying conditions. “We’re in the mountains, we’re up high and we get all four seasons,” he says. “We get experience flying in cold, snowy conditions, and in the summer we get experience flying in super-hot high-density-altitude mountain conditions. It really is a lot of fun, and with ATP, the nice thing is there’s a timeline that we follow to keep students on track, but as far as what we do and where we go, a lot of that is up to us.”

Luke credits his grandfather and uncle, both pilots, for sparking his interest in aviation. “Between the two of them, they told me a lot about flying,” he says. “I remember growing up always being interested in planes. We’d go to the Air Force museum and watch documentaries on World War II planes, things like that. I think that’s mostly what got me interested at a young age.”

Luke flying with friends
Luke (left) flying with friendsLuke Maddox

His advice to anyone considering a career in aviation today is just to go for it. “It’s a realistic goal, especially now,” he says, with demand for pilots so high and entry-level pay on the rise. “As an instructor, I make more than enough to make the payments on my flight-training loans and live. I’m not rich, but it’s doable.”

Luke is participating in the tuition-reimbursement program offered by SkyWest Airlines, which he says will credit him $11,000 toward his flight-training loans on the condition that he will work for SkyWest for at least one year after meeting the minimum flight time requirement of 1,500 hours. “At SkyWest, first officer to captain is about two years, and I’ve heard of people moving to the majors in as little as three years. I feel like I got in at the right time.”