top of page

Featured Posts

Recent Posts


Search By Tags

Follow Us

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

From the Stage to the Saab, a Pilot Career Pathway Story

As of February 2023, Saab SIC Karina Simonis has worked at Castle Aviation for just over a month. New to Northeast Ohio, the position at Castle is her first professional pilot job—something she has been working toward since she took a discovery flight on a whim on her 25th birthday.

Raised in Atlanta, Simonis joined the workforce as a professional actor at age 12, when she landed a role on a national tour. She never dreamed that she’d ever deviate from that career path, but in September 2018, during what she calls a “quarter life crisis”, she started working toward becoming a pilot. Luckily a friend of a friend was available to give her a crash course in the complicated world of pilot licensing and training, and helped her understand the various paths an aviation career can take.

After earning a BA in Theater, Simonis worked in Business Development for a charter airline that also ran a flight school. While employed there, she successfully earned her private pilot license. She notes that in her time at this flight school, she learned valuable information about the field of aviation itself, and became more aware of opportunities she could pursue. However, when the pandemic began, she was laid off. According to Simonis, this was a blessing in disguise. Her next position was remote, and the hours were more suitable for building flight time while working toward her goal of becoming a commercial pilot.

As an active member of the Women in Aviation-ATL Chapter, Simonis attended the organization’s annual conference in Nashville, TN., which is where the Castle Team was introduced to her. At the time, she had accumulated around 400 hours of flight time. To hit the minimum requirements for Castle’s entry level pilot position, she knew it was going to take some time. She maintained communication with her contacts at Castle and when she reached the required time, she was eager to apply for a role. After the typical rounds of interviews, we recognized her potential for greatness here at Castle.

When asked what her big aviation dreams are, Simonis answered thoughtfully that she considers the path in aviation to be like a river, and she is open to see where the current takes her. With no specific destination in mind, she’s enjoying flying the Saab, which she confirms is an unmatched opportunity for a low time pilot. At Castle, she says, “Flying such a complex aircraft is an opportunity you cannot get anywhere else.” Her role at Castle, she continues, “provides the opportunity to not have to flight instruct for years in a Cessna 150”, which is the plane she previously piloted.

When asked which, if any, skills from her theater background have helped her here at Castle, she answers, “Working and improvising under high stress conditions. ‘The show must go on’—the same can be said for flying. If things begin to go wrong, you work with your PIC, keep cool, and carry on.” Comparing the Saab to her previous work environment, she grins, “As soon as you step on stage, it’s go time.”

Pilot Simonis will be part of Castle’s Events Team, participating in the 2023 Women in Aviation Conference in Long Beach, CA.


Single Post: Blog_Single_Post_Widget
bottom of page