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Who’s Who – Get to Know Jay Cooper


The world of aviation brings together people from a variety of backgrounds and career experiences. Here at Ameriflight, our employees have unique and interesting stories to tell and we’re here to share them.

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Meet Jay Cooper, EMB120 First Officer (soon to be BE99 Captain!) 👋

“I grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, where I was the eldest of three children (two younger sisters). Life in my household mainly revolved around athletics, but we took advantage of the beautiful Black Hills and surrounding lakes whenever possible. Upon graduating high school, I initially planned to attend the Air Force Academy, but instead attended the University of South Dakota where I joined the Track and Field team and studied biology. I graduated with a doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy, married my wife (a Physical Therapist from a similar walk of life), and went on to practice for just 7 months before pursuing my interest in aviation. As an Occupational Therapist, I worked in Beaumont, TX and Hilo, HI before beginning flight training with ATP Flight School in Kansas City, MO. After just 8 months, I began flight instructing in Memphis, TN. 

Ameriflight InDoc Photo

I began my career with Ameriflight in July of 2023. It was an easy choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, Ameriflight is a great company for pilots who desire to sharpen their skills across multiple airframes, variable weather conditions, and night flying. Secondly, Ameriflight offers a direct path to United Airlines via the Aviate Program, which I joined while instructing for ATP Flight School. And lastly, Ameriflight features bases in some of the most desirable locations in the country. 

As a First Officer on the EMB120, my typical day involves an early morning show in order to prepare the aircraft to receive cargo. I check the aircraft exterior, interior, and systems. I then supervise the loading process alongside the Captain, ensuring the aircraft is properly loaded and no dangerous goods are unaccounted for. During the flight the First Officer and Captain generally split flying and monitoring responsibilities, which means despite my position as a First Officer, I get to take control of the aircraft.

Flying adventures

One interesting thing about my job is that we fly one of the rarer airplanes in the aviation industry. Very few pilots will be able to say they’ve flown the Brasilia, and it was one of the fastest turbo-prop airplanes in the world during its youth. I’ve enjoyed my time on the EMB120 but am looking forward to BE99 Captain class next month!

When not working, I enjoy flying in the general aviation community, skiing, watching movies, eating new foods, and going on adventures with my wife. Hawaii is without a doubt my favorite location to travel to. I had the chance to see an actively erupting volcano, swim with Manta Rays, skydive, and scuba dive near a family of whales.”


Keep up the great work, Jay! We’re proud to have you on the Ameriflight team. 🤗


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