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Joel Smith-New Private Pilot!

"Heather, Kenny, and Brian,
It's been a wild journey but I finally completed my PPL requirements and passed my checkride on WED, 6 JAN 21.  I laugh everytime I hear Kenny talk about the typical Helicopter Pilot (Student) because I too am a retired Police Officer.  I am retired from the Morgantown WV Police Department (2008).  While I was a Police Officer, I went to graduate school and ultimately became a licensed Clinical Social Worker.  I worked for the VA as a counselor for 8 years and then transferred to the Department of Defense where I now run a Behavioral Health Program at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base.
 
I started my Helicopter training in APR 2018 with the help of an Army bonus that I received as a Behavioral Health Officer in the Army Reserve.  My training was progressing well in an R-44 until AUG of 2018 when the school I was training at (Fly Buffalo; a Buffalo, Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour Company) went out of business because the owner was arrested on drug trafficking charges.  Unbelievable.  I then continued  my training at BAC Helicopters in Williamson-Sodus, NY, a two hour drive from my home.  It was there that I fell in love with the Enstrom F280F.  I was notified in late 2018 that I had to deploy with a Combat Stress Team to the Middle East in late 2019.  The next year of helicopter training was constantly interrupted with 2 to 5 week pre-deployment trainings. I was ready for my PPL Checkride in NOV of 2019 but the DPE used by my school was unavailable prior to my 5 DEC deployment date.  I was sick to my stomach over it.  I am telling you all of this for two reasons.  One, it proves how you all remind HOGS members that everyone's journey is unique and NEVER give up.  Two, just prior to deploying I purchased the HOGS lifetime Professional Pilot package.  I am so glad that I did because it was an awesome tool to have with me during my deployment to keep up on my training. Kenny's Youtube videos were another great pleasure I had when I had Wifi access.  Upon returning home from a long and stressful year in a combat zone, I quickly returned to my training and  passed my Checkride.  I truly did it with HOGS!  I plan to continue training and work towards completing a Commercial rating.  I will once again count on HOGS to achieve my goal.  I would be glad to provide you all with any type of testimonial or statement that would be beneficial to your company.  You have always made me feel a part of the HOGS Family whenever I have reached out with a question.  Thank you for what you all provide to make our industry better and safer.  Brian's videos are awesome!  Keep up the hard work."
 
Respectfully,
 
Joel Smith