Q&A with a Republic Pilot: Cetrena Simmons

Cetrena Simmons started at LIFT in the inaugural class. She joined LIFT after enjoying her time as a Republic Airways Flight Attendant and thinking to herself, “it would be fun to fly the plane myself.” The rest is history! Cetrena couldn’t wait to get back on the line at Republic, but now as a first officer. Throughout flight training Cetrena found herself amazed at the things she was learning to do and the great views she had from the Diamond Aircraft along the way. As a commercial airline pilot at Republic, she enjoys that each day, crew and schedule is different. Learn more about Cetrena’s journey to the cockpit!


  • Favorite overnight city? New Orleans
  • Dream airport to fly into? MLE Maldives
  • Favorite plane flown? E170/175
  • Dream plane to fly? A380 or 777
  • Hardest rating to achieve? Private
  • Favorite airport meal? Bagels
  • Role model? Me!

What made you want to be a pilot/what drew you to aviation? 

Cetrena Simmons: Before I came to LIFT, I was a flight attendant. As a flight attendant, I thought it would fun to fly the plane myself. I liked the idea that I could interact with passengers before and after the flight, showing them the cockpit or answering questions. I was originally drawn to aviation because of how autonomous it is. Being a pilot comes with a good deal of responsibility, but it also is a very rewarding and respectable career.

When were you a student at LIFT?

Cetrena: I was in the initial LIFT class in September 2018.

Cetrena after she passed her Certificated Flight Instructor – Instrument checkride.


What was your experience like as a student? Instructor?

Cetrena: Being a student had both its pros and cons. Learning new things and constantly being amazed were some of the parts of a student in flight training that I enjoyed most. The endless studying and stress of stage checks and checkrides were challenging for me at first, but I found my rhythm as I continued my training. When flight instructing, my students were awesome and I absolutely loved seeing them progress and grow as pilots.

What made you excited to go to Republic to fly? 

Cetrena: I was excited to get back on the line and see old friends who still worked for the Company. I also couldn’t wait to fly the Embraer 170/175. It’s an incredible airplane.

What was training at Republic like? 

Cetrena: The training environment was great. The instructors were friendly and easy going. It’s a positive environment where everyone wants you to thrive, is very well organized and you’re set up with the proper technology and tools for success. I was impressed to say the least.

How did your education at LIFT prepare you for the airlines? 

Cetrena: Checklists and callouts at LIFT and Republic are very similar. LIFT runs on the same principles as Republic, so I was already familiar with the Company culture and mission, especially so because I had worked as a flight attendant for Republic before I started at LIFT.

Did you feel like you had an advantage compared to others in your class because of your training at LIFT Academy? 

Cetrena: Our similar checklist and callouts helped, because I was already very familiar with them. What I think gives LIFT students the most advantage is flying in and out of the busy class C airspace at IND. We have the chance to get familiar with radio terminology, operating around commercial airliners and understand the intensity when things get busy on the taxiway.

What tools did you rely on the most during your training at Republic? 

Cetrena: I relied heavily on the supplemental study material provided. The training center also has computers and rooms available for trainees that I would use to study and prepare when I wasn’t in a SIM or in class. Already knowing pilots who came from LIFT and are now at Republic was a great resource, they knew what I was going through having already gone through the training and were able to offer tips and assistance.

What is it like to be a commercial airline pilot? 

Cetrena: It’s AMAZING. I found it difficult to be on reserve – I am so impatient! I couldn’t wait to get on the line. Every time I fly I learn something new about the airplane. All of the captains I’ve flown with have been helpful and fun to work with. No day is the same. No crew is the same. No schedule is the same. And I love that.

What do you have to look forward to in your career as a pilot?

Cetrena: I’m not sure where I want to take my career yet. It’s still very early on and I’m keeping all options on the table. Republic is a good company. I wouldn’t mind trying to get into management or instruction in the future, but something about flying a bigger jet is also appealing.