In the previous article, we discussed Maxim’s journey as he climbed the career ladder from a basic zero level to becoming a commercial pilot. 

To recap, Maxim began his first flights in May 2021, obtained his private pilot license in October of the same year, and earned his commercial pilot license in October 2022.

Today, we continue the discussion and learn about his path to becoming an airline pilot. After completing all commercial ratings, Max Klassen transitioned to becoming a flight instructor at SkyEagle Aviation Academy.

So by the end of 2022, you had all your commercial ratings and started working as an instructor at SkyEagle Aviation Academy. How many hours did you log as an instructor?

I officially started at SkyEagle on December 13, 2022. It took about a month to complete standardization and learn the procedures. By the middle of January 2023, I began flying regularly. I started with about 560-570 hours and reached 1500 hours by the end of October 2023. So, I logged nearly 1000 hours in about 10 months.

1500 hours

Once you hit 1500 hours, how did you go about looking for a job? What offers did you get, and why didn’t you join a regional airline?

I applied everywhere. I had a well-crafted resume thanks to my experience in corporate America. I got positive responses initially from American Airlines, Endeavor, PSA, and Frontier. However, as the hiring landscape shifted, Endeavor postponed hiring until 2024, and Frontier delayed their training start dates multiple times.

How did you get your current job offer as an airline pilot?

By January 2024, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post about a company hiring for Boeing 767 positions, primarily flying cargo for Amazon. They had a meet-and-greet with the chief pilot in Miami. Although I didn’t meet all their requirements initially, they encouraged me to come. At that time, two of my friends, including General manager Alexey from SkyEagle, were working there.

What happened at the meet-and-greet?

I reached out to the company, even though I didn’t fully meet their requirements. They invited me anyway, more as a courtesy. I met the chief pilot, and we had a good discussion. I had my friend vouch for me, which helped. Despite my initial reservations, I received a job offer. It was a bit of a detour from my original plan, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly a 767 and gain such experience. I managed to charm the chief pilot, who initially told me she might call me for an interview but made no promises. Surprisingly, she called me the next day at 10 AM, and I had an interview scheduled for Thursday that week.

Airline Pilot Max Klassen

How did the interview go?

The interview was only 15 minutes long, and they didn’t ask any technical questions. There were about seven people in the room, including HR representatives and three chief pilots. They asked mostly situational questions like “Tell me about a time…”. As I was leaving, the chief pilot approached me and said if I wanted to take the drug test, it meant I was hired. So, I ran to take the test, and three days later, I was in training for the Boeing 767/757.

How long did the training take?

Training started on January 29 and lasted just over two months. I completed my checkride for the type rating on March 24-25. After that, I had to complete additional training, including some days in Dallas for slide training, and waited a bit for my Initial Operating Experience (IOE). I logged about 37 hours over ten days for my IOE, finishing with a line check at the end of April.

So you’re flying now?

Yes, I have a schedule now. I’ve already done a couple of flights for the company. One of my early flights post-IOE was particularly memorable because the FAA was observing. It was quite intense, but I managed to handle it well. Now, I’m flying regularly and really enjoying it.

How do you like the Boeing 767?

It’s incredible! Flying such a big aircraft is a fantastic experience. It’s old, but well-maintained, and the avionics are new. Compared to the simulator, the real thing feels much more substantial. I love it, even though I think Airbus might have some advantages in terms of modernity.

When did you leave your IT job and become a full-time instructor?

Officially, I left my IT job in May, but I stopped working in IT around January. My wife suggested I choose between IT and flying because balancing both was exhausting. I could have continued working in IT and funded my flight hours, but it would have been too draining.

Do you have any regrets?

Not at all. My first flight was so emotional – I almost cried. I’d been waiting for that moment for over 20 years. The feeling of taking off at night from Richmond, with the captain handing me control, was indescribable. It was everything I had dreamed of.

So dreams do come true?

Absolutely. Dreams do come true.

Thank you so much, Max. Congratulations on your achievements. One last question—how does the pay compare to your IT job? Does it meet your expectations?

Right now, IT definitely pays better. If it were only about money, staying in IT would have made more sense. But the quality of life and fulfillment I get from flying is worth it. I always tell people not to pursue aviation for the money. Maybe in the long run, the pay will improve, but for me, it’s about living my dream, not just the paycheck.

Any advice for aspiring pilots?

Be persistent and open to opportunities, even if they don’t fit your initial plans. Learn from every experience, and don’t be afraid to pivot when necessary. Learn from each experience, even failures. Always be prepared, know your limits, and don’t hesitate to call a discontinuance if needed. Training and determination will get you through, and each failure is just a step toward success. Pursue your dreams with passion and resilience, and the right opportunity will come your way.

For me, every flight is a reminder of how far I’ve come and the importance of never giving up.

That’s inspiring. Thank you again, Max. It’s been great talking with you.

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Max Klassen’s journey from IT to becoming a Boeing 767 first officer is a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and support from loved ones. Despite starting with no flying experience and facing numerous challenges, Max’s dedication to his dream of flying led him to achieve a remarkable career milestone within just three years. His story serves as an inspiration for anyone considering a career change, proving that with determination and hard work, it’s possible to turn even the most ambitious dreams into reality. Max’s experience underscores the importance of following one’s passion and remaining resilient in the face of obstacles, making his story a powerful example for aspiring pilots and career changers alike.

Airline Pilot Max Klassen


Andrey Borisevich with Extra

Andrey Borisevich is the CEO, Training and Development Manager of SkyEagle Aviation Academy in Florida, responsible for new training programs, marketing, and business strategy. An aerobatic pilot, entrepreneur, and owner of the academy, Andrey has over 20 years of experience in aviation. He has flown more than 65 aircraft types and holds both fixed-wing and helicopter licenses. His YouTube channel, “Andrey Borisevich About Aviation”, offers aircraft reviews, flight training insights, and advice for aspiring pilots​.

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