Guest Blog: First Officer Richie Mercado lauds Envoy RTP

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I cannot explain how much I’ve loved my transition from the U.S. Army to the airlines through the Envoy Rotor Transition Program (RTP). It has been an amazing experience and one I am glad to share with anyone that’s willing to hear it.

First, I’d like to thank Envoy for giving me the opportunity by creating the very first RTP. I’m thankful that they were willing to train military helicopter pilots, and help ease the transition.

Their foresight has taken hold of the regional airline industry, and set up opportunities to help the military community transition into one of the best careers imaginable.

On the move

I transitioned from active duty in the Army after almost 10 years of service in April 2017. I spent most of my time flying Blackhawks in Assault and Medevac units between Ft. Campbell and Hunter Army Airfield.

My timing for the transition could not have been better.

Shortly after I made the decision to become an airline pilot, the industry as a whole began increasing their compensation for pilots. A few months later, Envoy went public with their RTP and I was one of the first to interview.

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When I started at Envoy for training, it was some of the most intense training I had experienced to that point. With help from my classmates and guidance from their experienced training department, I made it through to my first flights as an airline pilot.

I was fortunate enough to be based out of Chicago – I’ll tell you that no other airport is better to cut your teeth. If you can handle it there, you can handle it anywhere.

My Initial Operating Experience training was a blast! Everything happens quickly above 250 knots and trying to stay ahead is tough to wrap your head around at first, but you’ll get the hang of it before your instructor releases you to the line.

Luckily, our prior experience flying military helicopters pays dividends. Our experience managing crews is extremely helpful, and our ability to manage high-stress situations is also a plus.

Just stay humble and listen to and seek advice from the many captains with whom you will fly. There is a wealth of knowledge coming from the pilots who have sat in those seats.

Boost your Quality of Life

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First Officer Richie Mercado (right) with fellow Envoy RTP pilot, First Officer Shawn McLaughlin

After training, the day-to-day job is amazing – I truly love it! I find myself looking out the window like a child amazed that I’m cruising at six miles above the ground. I’m doing the job I never thought was within my reach growing up.

The best part of the job is the off time; my wife loves it, too. When I’m home, I’m 100-percent home.

That time at home has a higher quality today than it ever did on my weekends or leave while in the Army. Now that I’m here, it would be hard for me to go back to any other job that would require me to work the hours I did in the Army.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to serve our nation, and to support our military overseas. Now that I am a regional airline pilot with Envoy, I feel as though my life can only take off from here.