Learning to Fly Was the Passport to America

Jack Yu N328AMLearning how to fly an airplane has been Jack Yu’s “passport” to a new life in America.

In May 2014, at age 24, the native of China relocated to San Diego without knowing how to speak or read English. In China, he worked as a high school teacher. He had graduated from the local university at the top of this class, which was a surprise based on his experience in high school.

“I was a horrible student in high school,” said Yu. “My desk was next to the blackboard so the teacher could watch me all the time. They told me my future would be as a mover to carry people’s furniture to their new home. Their words motivated me and pushed me to do better in college.”

One day, Yu was looking beyond a career in teaching when he talked to a relative who was a pilot. “He encouraged me to study hard and become a pilot,” said Yu. “Becoming a pilot has truly been my passport to my new life in the United States.”

After arriving in San Diego, Yu enrolled himself in English classes at the National City Adult School. “Because I had limited English, I couldn’t finish my application for registration and couldn’t finish the assessment test,” Yu said. “With a teacher’s patience, I signed up for an ESL (English as a Second Language) class.” He earned a U.S. high school diploma and was selected as the commencement speaker at the school’s graduation ceremonies.

Jack Yu Student to CFIIYu also began classes at the California Flight Academy at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. “Aviation English is harder than English language,” he said. “For instance, instead of `yes,’ it is the word `affirmative,’ and ‘no’ is `negative. I learned how to speak aviation English from my classmates, flight instructor and watching TV shows.”

It took about one year for Yu to earn his private pilot’s license. It took another two years to become a certified flight instructor (CFI). “I studied very hard to become a CFI, waking up at 3 a.m. to study. But, even when starting with horrible English skills, I am proof that you can succeed.”

Yu earned a 92 percent on his private pilot written test. “Many English speakers get 85 percent on the same test,” he said.

Most recently Yu pursued and achieved his Instrument CFI or CFII certification. He can now teach pilots to fly by instrument as opposed to just visual references.

New US Citizen Hao (Jack) Yu

Today, Yu, 32, lives in Linda Vista with his wife. He works as a CFI at the Ramona Flight Training Center. His teaching schedule fills up to four days a week. In his spare time, he is continuing his studies to become a commercial pilot for the airlines.

Earlier this year, Yu became a U.S. citizen and his achievement was celebrated at the Ramona Flight Training Center with a USA Flag presentation by director Eric Goforth.

“My citizenship papers have my real first name, which is Hao, not Jack. If I use Hao, then some people think my name is `Yahoo.’ So, I decided to have an English name. But, I like the name Hao because in Chinese, it means going beyond and above everything. For me, becoming a pilot has helped me go to infinity and beyond.”


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