Tom Waitkus’ diverse aviation and business background of more than 20 years supports the critical mission of APS to mitigate the #1 fatal threat to air safety – Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I). You can watch Tom’s video discussion about his APS UPRT course below to hear his experience with UPRT and how the course impacted him.
Tom’s love and passion for aviation began at an early age when his father began flying as a private pilot. Whenever the opportunity arose, Tom was thrilled to jump in an airplane with his dad for short trips around Michigan or fly-in fishing trips to Canada and Alaska. In college, he turned his passion for aviation towards the career aspiration of becoming a professional pilot and transferred to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Science and a focus on Aviation Safety and Accident/Incident studies. It was during his multi-engine commercial flight training that Tom first recognized the need to mitigate the environmental, meteorological and aircraft systems failure type events that contribute to the possibility of LOC-I hazards. Because UPRT was not yet a cohesive or well-articulated training strategy, he sought out aerobatic training to advance aircraft handling skills and aerodynamic knowledge to mitigate LOC-I events and increase his ability to recover from uncommanded upsets. Now that APS has developed and perfected a world class UPRT training strategy and program to mitigate LOC-I hazards, Tom is delighted to be an advocate and evangelist of UPRT. He has a deep appreciation for the superior outcomes of this training as opposed to relying on aerobatic skills or other suboptimal approaches that have been proven less effective in reducing and/or recovering from LOC-I events.
Tom’s professional flying career includes flight instruction, flying freight, air ambulance operations, corporate/charter pilot as well as flying for the airlines as a Flight Engineer, First Officer and Captain. He has thousands of hours in light aircraft and turboprops as well as type ratings in Learjets, Citation Jets (his favorite Citation X) and the Boeing 737. Tom is deeply committed to the duty of all professional pilots to ensure the safety of their crew and passengers, bringing everyone home safe to their families. Because of this commitment, in addition to his pilot duties, Tom served as the Safety Operations Manager for a large flight school as well as implementing and managing safety programs for both Part 135 and 121 operators. He has also led various safety initiatives and voluntary safety reporting programs (FOQA, ASAP, VDRP).
In addition to his aviation experience, Tom has been instrumental in business development and marketing for both aviation and financial firms. He has helped grow brand awareness and create revenue through B2B sales as well as genuinely caring for each individual client. He also has extensive asset and investment management experience as a licensed financial planner working with UHNW (Ultra-High-Net-Worth) individuals and families.
Outside of his professional life, Tom’s priority is his family (Amber, wife and young sons, Wyatt and Gil). He loves playing sports, coaching his boys’ sports teams, outdoor adventures and traveling with his wife and sons.
Watch below to hear Tom’s thoughts after completing Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) at APS: