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home : news : news December 17, 2014

3/29/2013 10:21:00 AM
Life after Graduation: Paul Holte

by Connie Bickman

Note: This column features "hometown folks," specifically Cannon Falls and Randolph High School graduates - of any year - and their unique or interesting careers. If you know of anyone you feel would make an interesting feature, email cbickman@gmail.com - their email address must be included.

When it comes to Cannon Falls, Paul Holte, CFHS class of 1997, noted that he is most fond of the people. "Cannon Falls is the definition of small town America and it's the residents who give it a welcoming feel and make it a great place to grow up."

The son of John and Nancy Holte (Cannon Falls), Paul has two brothers, Adam and Scott. "I wouldn't be where I am without my parents' support and encouragement. It was my father who encouraged me to take my first airplane ride when I was 13 years old. After they saw that the flying bug had bitten me, my parents offered to pay for flying lessons based on my grades in school. I instantly went from C's and D's to A's and B's."

Paul learned how to fly airplanes at the Stanton Airport during high school. "I like to think I've paid my parents back with unlimited free travel anywhere United Airlines flies, but after they had to sit around an airport in California on standby for a day and a half, they might disagree!"

After high school, Paul earned his Bachelor of Science in Aviation from St. Cloud State University with an emphasis in professional flight. As a side note he said that in the midst of a looming pilot shortage, SCSU is sadly shutting down its aviation program, which will force anyone who wants to attend an accredited aviation college to go out of state.

Paul continued to earn ratings at St. Cloud State. "While I was there, I was able to acquire various flying jobs, such as flying skydivers, flight instruction, and some corporate flying. By the time I graduated, I was eligible to apply with the regional airlines. I interviewed with four different airlines during my last semester of college and had my pick of where I wanted to work. After nearly six years at a regional airline, I was hired by Continental Airlines in 2006, and we have since merged to form United Airlines.

"I've always loved flying airplanes and I still love getting into the cockpit to fly, but ever since I started flying internationally, I've seen more places than I ever dreamed of when I was younger. From surfing in Hawaii to picnics under the Eiffel Tower to visiting the Acropolis in Athens, the job is like a really fun history class I get paid to take. The people I work with make the job great too; I've made many lifelong friends and we all have a common love - flying and traveling."

Although John Holte isn't in the airline business, Paul says his dad is the one he looks up to the most. "He came from a poor family and worked hard to be called Doctor Holte. He rarely takes a sick day and raised a family of three boys who have all turned out pretty well. I'd say that's something to be proud of."

Paul continued, "My parents taught many values as I grew up, one of them being 'the golden rule,' treating others as you would like to be treated. I've found that it's a very small world, and the aviation industry is even smaller. By treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve, you avoid 'burning bridges.' You never know who you'll meet who has a connection to your next career move. That's obviously not the only reason to treat people kindly, but it's one of the benefits."

As far as balancing work and family life, Paul, who currently lives in Rosemount, MN, notes, "My wife, Erin, and I have a two-year-old daughter, Amelia.

Erin, from Bridgman, MI, is a full-time mom. She was going to return to work after Amelia was born, but with me having long stretches of time off between trips and the cost of daycare, it didn't make sense for her to go back to work."

Paul added, "As much as I love my job, being gone for three to nine days at a time is very challenging for both of us. Erin does a great job with our daughter when I'm gone and when I'm home, we have a lot of family fun time. I usually have about half the month off, although not all at once. When I have a week or so off, sometimes we'll travel; but if we don't go anywhere, it's nice to go to the zoo or the mall during the middle of the week when it's not overcrowded.

"Our daughter spent her first birthday in Hawaii and her second birthday in California. We're doing a really bad job at setting the bar low. As she gets older, I'm looking forward to bringing her on trips with me and showing her the world. I'd love it if she could see every continent by the time she graduates from high school." Paul admits that another child would be great, but adds, "If that doesn't come to fruition, we're blessed to have a wonderful little girl."

Paul said that every job in aviation he ever had, he's gotten by knowing someone. "Getting hired by a major airline is a combination of a lot of luck and who you know. There are a lot of highly qualified pilots out there and only so many jobs. Everyone I work with has somebody they know who wants to work for us, which means that sometimes even knowing the right person doesn't always help. I applied to almost every major airline and only interviewed with two. That being said, I feel unbelievably fortunate to be where I am today."

When asked to give advice to anyone thinking about the airlines as a career, Paul admits that the airline industry is tough.

"The education behind a four-year degree, plus getting all the ratings, isn't cheap - roughly $110,000, unless you go to one of the name-brand colleges, then add another $50K. The first year pay at most regional airlines is about $22,000/year. That alone is a deterrent for some people. With all that said, however, if someone loves flying airplanes, they'll find a way to overlook the temporary financial hardship, and it's the best job in the world. If you're in it for the money, you're probably better off finding a career doing something else, but if you love flying airplanes, then go for it."

Looking forward to the future, Paul has also just finished writing a novel, The Ups and Downs of Joy, which is a romance novel. "When Angel Airways pilot John Nash falls for aspiring psychologist, Joy Hill, nothing can get between them, other than 1,800 miles and his marriage to someone else." Paul plans to pursue getting the book published once he's finished with final edits.

"I'm not the next Ernest Hemingway by any means, but I'd be thrilled to see my name on a shelf at a bookstore, or at least on Amazon."

Paul said he plans to remain a first officer on the airplane he currently flies (B-757/767 First Officer Pilot for United Airlines), stating, "Once I can hold a good schedule as a captain, then I'll upgrade, but until then I'm going to try to maximize my time at home. "Flying airplanes is all I've ever wanted to do, and although working for the airlines was not a direct goal, it has exceeded my wildest dreams."

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