From Deputy Sheriff to Flight Attendant to Pilot: Greg Mclean’s Wild Ride

Greg McLean is a testament to students, job seekers, and career changers that a career in aviation is an opportunity to explore your potential. Once a deputy sheriff, Greg discovered a newfound interest and passion for aviation after being introduced to it by a Flight Attendant. Greg recently completed time building at LIFT and is headed to Cape Air as a commercial airline pilot before eventually flowing over to fly at Republic Airways.

At the time he was a deputy sheriff, Greg had a conversation with his neighbor, a Flight Attendant, who suggested going into the aviation industry. When he was hired by Republic in 2016 to become a Flight Attendant, Greg’s career in aviation took off. When he had the opportunity to sit in the flight deck, he fell in love with the idea of flying the plane himself. He decided to connect with Pilots who in turn coached him, taking him under their wings and sharing their knowledge about operating an airplane. Those Pilots became his biggest advocates.

For Greg, going through the flight program had highs and lows. When coming to LIFT Academy in March 2020, his flight training was paused due to COVID-19. He shared that there were times he thought about going back to being a flight attendant, saying that he wasn’t sure he was cut out to be a pilot. Like anything, he said that learning something brand new is overwhelming and stressful. It was the support system of his Republic and LIFT family that encouraged him to keep going. He and fellow LIFT classmates often went hiking together, taking the opportunity to quiz each other in preparation for exams.

Greg’s grandfather was his biggest motivation to get through the program. Greg told us that his grandfather would call him two to three times a week to check-in and would always ask when he would “get to fly the big planes.” When Greg’s grandfather passed away in February of this year, he lost all motivation and stopped studying, his biggest advocate was no longer able to support and encourage him each week. His instructor at the time, Jeremy Gudorf, went out of his way to help Greg do what he needed to complete his training and continue his career in aviation. Despite almost being done with the program, Greg doesn’t think he would have finished the program if it weren’t for Jeremy and others here at Republic and LIFT.

No matter where you are in your current career, if you are drawn to a career in aviation, Greg’s message is to let your dreams take flight. His advice to anyone who wants to become a pilot is this:

  • Don’t be the lone wolf. Wolves travel in packs. Take advantage of the opportunities to work with other people and successfully finish the program as a team.
  • Make sure to have an open mind for learning new things. It will be stressful, and you will not know everything. Learning about aviation can be like learning a new language, but with practice comes great knowledge and reward.
  • Whenever you see someone struggling, struggle with them, and do what you can to support them. Meet them where they are and encourage them to keep going. Build them up and make sure they know that people care and will be there for them.