Pure Perseverance: A Spotlight On Captain Sonal Surve’s Aviation Journey

From First Officer to Captain in about a year Sonal Surve inspires aviators to push forward and pursue their dreams

When did you get your start in aviation?

I started in 2012 right after I graduated from college. 

Where did you do your flight training?

I did my flight training at Phoenix East Aviation in Daytona Beach, Florida.

 Who was your inspiration as you were learning to fly?

My mom, whose multi-tasking skills never fail to impress me, and my instructor TJ, who did most of my flight training from instrument rating to CFI.

What was one of the greatest challenges you faced in training?

Most pilots have a type A personality, and they tend to be hard on themselves. I was a victim of setting unrealistic standards when it came to how soon I wanted to accomplish things. I was also a victim of comparing myself to others. It took me a while to understand that everybody’s life journey is different and being patient and easing into the process does help in accomplishing your goals faster.
Why did you select Air Wisconsin?

Two of my best friends worked for Air Wisconsin. One worked as a Captain on the line, and the other one still works at the headquarters as a financial analyst. Both only had great things to say about the company culture and family-like work environment. That is what made me select Air Wisconsin, and I am glad Air Wisconsin selected me too! 

Do you have any advice for pilots currently in training or building their hours?

Yes! No matter how tough life gets and sometimes it feels impossible to overcome the roadblocks, hang in there! I promise you; there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it will ease all the aches and pains you had to endure in your personal and professional life to complete your training.
What is your goal for your aviation career?

My goal is straightforward. I always want to be in a position to have a job that lets me fly airplanes while I pay my bills. And no matter what airplane I fly, I should be able to make sure I keep the flight operation and its occupants safe. 

What is your favorite part of being an airline captain at Air Wisconsin?

I am part of a company where my superiors and coworkers have always encouraged me to keep pushing forward. When I completed my upgrade training in a flash with the help of my instructors, I had our President & CEO Rob Binns congratulate me through email. I made his acquaintance when I flew him from Appleton to Chicago as a first officer. He remembered me and made the time to congratulate me on behalf of the management. That is the tone the company has set for me. My favorite part of being a captain is setting the same tone for my crew, where I can motivate them to perform their share of tasks to their fullest potential. I love to take my crew’s input to ensure the operation is conducted most efficiently and safely. Teamwork makes the dream work, and as a Captain, I make sure the teamwork never stops.