The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Instructor receives award for excellence in aviation

By Rhiannon Saeger/nw news editor

NW aviation instructor James Hyde was awarded the Orville and Wilbur Wright award by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Nominees for this award must have 50 years of continual service in aviation of some kind, as well as a clean safety record. Pilots must be nominated by a group of their peers. So far, the award has been given to 1,833 other pilots and is considered one of the highest honors the FAA can bestow on a pilot.

“[Hyde spent] years and years in aviation, wants to give back to the community. [He is a] great guy with lots of knowledge and a true desire to help others,” NW aviation department chair Mark Loud said. “He truly cares about students and comes to the classroom with decades of experience.”  

Hyde worked as an airline pilot for Braniff International Airways and United Airlines for 37 years. He also worked as a pilot instructor for Southwest Airlines.

Later, he earned his airframe and power plant certificates from NW’s aviation maintenance school before returning as an instructor. He said teaching was the ideal way for him to end his career though the industry is considerably more complex today.

“Technology has changed the field dramatically,” Hyde said. “The term pilot is kind of fading away. It’s going to be replaced by systems manager.”

Today, pilots must have college degrees and a minimum of 10 years’ experience working for a commuter airline to interview with a major airline.

“Used to be, if you were a good pilot, if you could fly really well, that was all you needed to do,” he said. “Now, you‘re managing, essentially, a factory with 400 passengers, 18 flight attendants and four pilots if you‘re flying internationally. When I started, you could start learning to fly in a farmer’s field with a cub airplane not much bigger than a kite.”

Tim Garrison, a former student of Hyde’s, said he’s never met someone more passionate about aviation.

“Whenever you start talking to him, you learn something, especially about aviation,” Garrison said. “Every time you talk to him, it’s a class.”

Garrison, who now works as a private pilot, said the award is a testament to Hyde’s professionalism and expertise.

“That’s amazing to put in 50 years without any marks of any kind and to have people have a high enough opinion of you to put your name in for something like that,” he said.

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