ST. PETERSBURG – At the age of 24, St. Pete native Malcolm McCalpin, was blessed to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot.
As early as five years old, McCalpin dreamt of being an “airplane driver,” as he called it. At the age of nine, he flew on a plane for the first time with his parents, pastor and other church members to a church convention in Detroit. Amazed at the size of the plane, he had a window seat and was fascinated as he watched the clouds float by.
McCalpin attended The Boca Ciega High School where he enrolled in their aerospace program. During his junior year, he volunteered at the Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society. They were so impressed, especially Teresa Griner, president of the preservation society, that they paid for him to attend the weeklong Oshkosh Air Show in Oshkosh, Wis.
Before finishing high school, McCalpin applied to Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach Florida and many other colleges. He said that whichever college accepted him first, that would be the college he’d attend.
In 2011, he graduated cum laude from Bogie and was a member of the National Honor Society.
A day before graduation, he received an acceptance letter from Embry-Riddle, a school known for its high standards. Since it was the first college to accept him, when the letter from Tuskegee came two days after he graduated, he declined their offer. No matter his choice, his parents, Willie and Ella, thanked God for the opportunity their son was afforded.
Unbeknownst to the family, however, the attendance at Embry-Riddle meant their son had to take both academic courses and flight school training, schooling day and night. Working twice as hard wasn’t easy, but McCalpin was determined to reach his goals.
He put his trust in God and kept the faith, and it paid off.
McCalpin graduated from Embry-Riddle in May of 2015, but could not find work with a major airline because he didn’t have the experience. He did not let that discourage him, however. McCalpin took a job as a flight instructor with Epic Flight School in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., waiting two years before he started job hunting.
He was hired on with Republic Airline out of Indianapolis, which contracts with United, Delta and American Airlines. McCalpin completed rigorous training in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Kan., and St Louis.
At the age of 25 and now an official commercial airline pilot, he is domiciled to Columbus, Ohio. When the opportunity arrives, he returns to St. Pete to visit his family, pastor and church family and friends.
McCalpin is an example of what happens when you trust in God and work hard to accomplish your dreams. With the prayers and support of family and church, he is destined for success.
“When you want to succeed but don’t think that you can, talk to the Lord, put Him first and believe. He will direct your path,” said his mother. “Malcolm is so grateful that the Lord stood beside him and granted him this achievement. Just trust and believe He can do the same for you.”
Congratulations for being one of St. Pete’s Finest!