Dedication to a Dream Keeps This Eagle Flying High

Peter Cuthbert (’25) has a pretty straightforward vision for where he wants his flying career to take him – and he knows that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University can help him reach the destinations he has in mind.

B.S. in Aeronautical Science major Peter Cuthbert ('25) has already received his private pilot rating in his first semester through Embry-Riddle's PILOT program. (Photo: Peter Cuthbert)
B.S. in Aeronautical Science major Peter Cuthbert ('25) has already received his private pilot rating in his first semester through Embry-Riddle's PILOT program. (Photo: Peter Cuthbert)

“I don't have one airline in particular that I'd like to work for, but I mean, the dream is traveling the world, getting to see it, getting paid to do it and doing something that you enjoy every day,” said Cuthbert, a native of Houston, Texas. “I want to fly internationally because seeing the world is my ultimate goal.

Cuthbert, a freshman in the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science program, has gotten off to a quick start by knocking out his private pilot rating in his first semester through Embry-Riddle’s unique PILOT, or Pre-flight Immersion Laboratory for Operations Training program.

PILOT was launched in Fall 2021 and allows flight students to spend four weeks learning preflight, checklist and flight procedures in VR environments, then continue to work with their flight instructors to complete oral and simulator activities.

The program uses Embry-Riddle’s customized VR platforms so students can practice takeoffs, landings and radio communications while also perfecting the basics of key flight maneuvers.

“Ultimately, I'm very glad that I got my private in one semester, because that's the whole goal of the program,” said Cuthbert. “It's good that it helps you work through what you're going to do in the end or in your sims or in your flights.”

PILOT, however, is not meant to be a magic master switch. Although the program is on the cutting-edge of flight training technology, opens new doors for students and helps them achieve milestones faster than they normally could, it also demands time and commitment.

Cuthbert had amassed 75 hours of flight time by the end of his second semester and is on the verge of earning his instrument ticket.

The flight commitment also comes on top of “actual class classes,” and Cuthbert took 16 credit hours in the Fall Term. He advises aspiring flight students to be ready for the demands of PILOT, with the idea that the hard work will pay off big.

“It's really about dedication to it and knowing what you have to do when you have to do it,” he said. “I think that you need to have a genuine reason about why you love to do it. And that reason should be something that carries you throughout all your flight training. Even if you have days where you didn't do well on a sim or you didn't do well on a flight. The passion for doing it and continuing and ultimately reaching your goal should be strong enough to where that doesn't stop you.”

Cuthbert said his passion has been stoked by his initial success. He’s also impressed by how Embry-Riddle is employing technology to enhance its already top-notch flight training programs.

“[The technology is] honestly among the best from what I've seen and experienced, as well as knowing other students who go to different universities or do fight training elsewhere,” Cuthbert said. “I do think it's very thorough, which I like. It's very methodical. It's very thought out. It's very well done. Especially like with the sims, for instrument you feel like you're actually in the plane.”

“It's true that Embry-Riddle has definitely thought out its flight training to benefit the students.”