I have been wanting to write about some of the most determined and focused students that I have ever had in my career as a Flight Instructor teaching new CFI applicants for a while now. There are many, but I have to start off somewhere. So this is the first one of the series. Yohan Bathiya. Yohan is a senior first officer with American Eagle Airlines. He is originally from Sri Lanka.

I came across Yohan back in 1998-1999. He was a student at a flight school that I used to work for; Wings International. I was a newly certified flight instructor at the time, but was teaching/mentoring other new flight instructors as well. Yohan’s instructor was Anura Mundanayake, also from the same country. As this post is about Yohan, and not Anura, so let’s continue on talking about Yohan here.

One thing that we all have to understand here is that I know a lot more than I can share here. There are privacy policies, common courtesies, and things of that nature. So, please bear with me, and try to read between the lines and connect the dots yourself.

Yohan, like many others, had a dream, and a lot of determination. I remember the glow in his eyes every time I ran across him, and that was just about every single morning. He had no clue about the path, or the journey, but he very much knew what his destination was…to be an airline pilot, no matter what it takes!

And guess what, he did everything that it took to achieve that dream of his. I remember, Yohan used to show up sometimes in the evening with a pizza at my flight school, the occasional “free” pizza bonus that pizza delivery guys get every now and then. The thing to note here is that he would bring his free pizza in to share with his instructors, friends, and future students! Well, he didn’t have to…but he did.

And then Yohan went through a lot more, but he kept his focus and continued on with his persistence, and determination. 10 years later, he is a senior first officer with American Eagle, is a US citizen and has traveled half of the countries in the world. Am I proud of him, heck yea! How about his parents, his siblings, his instructors, and his students? Of course they all are.

As a matter of fact, Yohan’s students are the ones who are the most proud of him. Dave Tillet is one! And then there are dozens more that I know of.

Guys, the deal is that if you want it bad enough, you can have it. This is how the aviation works, and always has. How bad you want it is the key. Yohan went from Student Pilot to an Airline Pilot in 5 years, and that is quite an achievement, at least in my books!

Eventually, Yohan did his CFI, CFII and MEI with me, and then ended up working for me as a Flight Instructor for a while, and he was a great asset to my company as he is now for his present employer. He knew that he had to give before he takes!

  • John

    wow, senior F/O at mesa…So cool….10 years…not student to major airline co-pilot in 10 years…

    • CFI

      Correction…student to American Eagle senior F/O in 10 years. He has been with American Eagle since the last 5+ years. So, we can say, student pilot to an airline pilot in 5 years.

  • sharme fernando

    hello how are you.
    Iam from switzerland.

    • CFI

      Hi. And I am from USA. Been flying enough out there?