Passing on aviation wisdom from pilot to camper

American Airlines Capt. Quincy Pulliam’s dream to become a pilot started to come to life at a young age when he participated in one of the Museum’s first aviation summer camps in the early ’90s. It was this experience that encouraged him to pursue a career on the flight deck even though he didn’t know a pilot personally. Now, a captain at American Airlines flying the Boeing 737, Quincy pays it forward by volunteering his time to inspire future aviators, including participating in current Museum educational programming. Watch Quincy’s story on the American Airlines Newsroom and read his blog post here in which Quincy answers our campers’ most pressing questions. Want to become a pilot? Consider exploring our educational programs and check out our pilot career pathway resources.

A note from Quincy

My journey to become a pilot started in the most peculiar place, my mother’s beauty salon in the ’90s. She had friends and clients who would see my young self building planes with my Legos and drawing airports. A good friend of my mother, JoAnn Donelson, heard of a summer program that was going to be held for kids from ages 8 to 13 at the American Airlines CR Smith Museum. My mother and JoAnn knew how to create opportunity, it was just their nature. I got to camp in July, and, on the first day, I knew this was, without a doubt, the life I wanted. Here I am 25 years later speaking to the kids at the very camp I experienced in my childhood. It’s about paying it forward for the next generation in all areas. I love talking to kids, seeing their eyes light up with excitement when you answer all of their questions!

— Capt. Marshall “Quincy” Pulliam

Quincy speaking with campers in June 2023
Capt. Quincy Pulliam with campers in June 2023

Quincy answers campers pressing questions

Meet Lauren …

Lauren is a 2023 Aviation STEM Summer camper and asks Capt. Quincy Pulliam a few questions about the journey to becoming a pilot.

Q: How do you prepare to be a pilot?

A: A well-rounded education — being good at science, math, social studies, geography and history. Those are the building blocks to becoming a pilot.

Q: What’s the best part about being a pilot?

A: The best part about being a pilot is that you’re in a highly skilled environment, doing highly skilled things with other highly skilled people. You get to travel the world and experience different foods, and different cultures. You get to see all kinds of things. You end up with friends all over the world places that you’d never thought you’d be — that’s the best part about being a pilot.

Meet Yoav …

Yoav is a 2023 Aviation STEM Summer camper and asks Capt. Quincy Pulliam a few questions about being a pilot and what the career entails.

Q: On average how many flights do you fly a day?

A: On average, I fly two or three legs a day. It’s not too bad.

Q: What is it like balancing family and pilot responsibilities?

A: It’s a constant balancing act. At times you have to prioritize work over family and vice versa. One of those things you have to grow accustomed to and understand that you’re going to have to make sacrifices, but family is always first.

Meet Amelia …

Amelia is a 2023 Aviation STEM Summer camper and asks Capt. Quincy Pulliam how she can become a pilot herself.

Q: What did you do to become a pilot and what can I do to become one too?

A: There’s myriad ways you can become a pilot. You have the civilian route or the military route. I personally took the civilian route, which has served me quite well. I became a corporate pilot; I flew that for years and ended up here at American Airlines.

❗️Resource alert❗️ Another option that future pilots can take advantage of is becoming a cadet. Cadet programs offer financial and mentorship support. Learn more on our pilot career pathways page.

Career pathway resources and educational programs

Learn more about aviation careers via our educational programs and our career pathways resources.

Share your career story

Did you start your career journey at the CR Smith Museum by participating in our educational programs? Reach out to media@crsmithmuseum.org. We’d love to hear your story!