Aviation graduate turns lifelong dream of flying airplanes into professional career

As a kid, Justin McMurry always had an airplane in his hand. He imagined what it would be like to fly an airplane one day, but told himself, “normal people can’t just be pilots. Only special people can fly planes.”

He was 10-years-old the first time he attended an air show, and met Pete Lee, the Aviation Careers Campus (ACC) Site Director.

“My mom worked for Metro Tech and since the air shows were near ACC, Metro Tech was one of the gate entrances. I used to show up really early before the show started and tag along with Pete, checking out all the airplanes and asking him questions,” Justin said.

Growing up, Justin’s obsession with airplanes never wavered. He flew on commercial airplanes with his dad, and would sneak up to ask the pilot questions, still convinced that being a pilot was out of reach for him. After graduating high school, he worked for a rental car company at Will Rogers Airport delivering cars to arriving pilots, again, bombarding them with questions. He enrolled at ACC shortly after, and it was during his time at Metro Tech that his lifelong dream came into focus.

“Pete Lee is a former military pilot, and several others at Metro Tech owned planes and flew them. The more I spoke with them, the greater my confidence grew,” Justin said. He completed the program at ACC, received his A&P license, enrolled in the Professional Pilot program at the University of Oklahoma and finally flew his first plane.

Today, just a few years later, Justin has his professional pilot’s license and flies a plane almost as often as he drives a car. He works part time at ACC, and also flies a skydiving plane at Scissortail Skydiving in Shawnee. Last summer, he volunteered for an unpaid internship at Oklahoma Aviation, where he made connections with airplane owners that now pay him to ferry planes all over the United States. He will graduate from OU in December as one of only 12 students in a program that started with 60. After that, he plans to continue doing what he loves, branching out to corporate jets, with plans to one day own a charter company.

The education he received at Metro Tech, Justin said, makes him a better pilot.

“Most pilots don’t have the mechanical training I received at Metro Tech. I can identify problems quickly, and communicate effectively with the mechanic because I understand the plane inside and out. The encouragement of Pete Lee and staff pushed me to pursue my dreams, and I do the same for anyone who asks me endless questions about being a pilot. I give them my number and tell them to call me anytime they need help or encouragement.”

To learn more about Metro Tech's Aviation program:

http://www.metrotech.edu/course-programs/transportation-distribution-log...

Metro Tech is an Oklahoma technology school that offers free tuition to Oklahoma City Public Schools, Crooked Oak Public Schools and Millwood Public Schools students. Full-time and part-time training is also offered for adult students. For more information (405) 424-TECH.