You have probably never been in the copilot’s seat, helping fly the governor of Indiana around the state. You likely have never had the opportunity to land a plane on the top of a mountain. If you talk to Ryan Long ‘16, that’s just a typical Tuesday. Long is entering his senior year at Purdue University, majoring in Professional Flight Technology. He is spending more and more time in the air these days as a trainee himself, and as a flight instructor for the university. 

“Once I started college, I quickly realized the skills I received from Hill Country made me stand out from my peers,” says Ryan. “The most relevant one I saw right away was my ability to outline, write, and edit research papers. While many people in my classes struggled through these assignments, not knowing how to research or structure their papers, the skills I learned at Hill Country through my many English Classes and Senior Thesis served me well. Hill Country teachers do an incredible job at challenging and guiding students in their writing to make sure it is the absolute best quality it can be. This practice has been outstanding through my time in college, making writing effortless.”

“Through many classes and as President of Purdue Aviation Ambassadors, I have been challenged with public speaking opportunities time and time again,” he says. While public speaking seems to be a subject many struggle with through college, the practice I got at Hill Country through Debate class, English, Senior thesis and club involvement has taught me how to present and defend my research or ideas in front of an audience confidently and clearly.”

Ryan encourages, “If anyone were considering attending Hill Country Christian, I would highly advise them to give it a try. Hill Country is truly a place where each student is encouraged to grow in their knowledge, beliefs, values, and skills. In my experience at Hill Country, students receive a level of attention most schools cannot offer. All of the teachers, coaches, staff, and students alike at Hill Country listen and care, creating an atmosphere where students are not numbers. I left Hill Country prepared for college, with lifelong friends, and knowing what direction I wanted my life to take. I am happy I chose Hill Country for High School because I don’t think I could have found as many opportunities or experiences as unique anywhere else!”

As a member and former president of Purdue Aviation Ambassadors, Ryan travels across the country, recruiting others to the aviation program. He enjoys life in the midwest but would like to make his way back to Texas. “I miss the warmer weather of Texas, my family and so many other things about living there,” he says. “I never realized what I appreciated about Texas until I left. With that being said, Purdue and the Midwest both have their advantages and disadvantages, but overall I am convinced Austin is one of the most special cities in the world and I plan to find myself back there one day! No state compares to Texas!”

In the spring, Ryan will hone his skills in the university’s new Airbus A320 simulator. He will pilot a multi-stop, cross-country flight as his final exam before graduation, after which he plans to become a corporate pilot. As he looks back on his final summer as a college student, Ryan recounts the details of taking off from Indianapolis International Airport. “Pushing the thrust levers up on the runway in Indianapolis with airliners waiting behind me, getting pulled back in my seat by the force of the engines, then climbing out over the sea of flickering city lights was the best way I could have possibly ended the summer.”

Spring of 2022 Update:
Ryan graduated from Purdue in 2020 and moved back to Austin. At the time of his graduation, the aviation industry was at a standstill, with no one wanting to fly due to the pandemic. Ryan was blessed, however, to land a job as a flight instructor at the Georgetown Airport, where he started building hours toward the goal of becoming a corporate pilot.

Ryan also started with a new company called Airshare in the summer of 2021, flying customers in private jets around the U.S. He says, “I love my job for the sense of adventure, travel, the different people you get to meet and how every day the experience is different. I grew a passion for teaching during my time working as a flight instructor, so I still instruct on the side as well. As far as personal updates, no big news to share; I spend a lot of my free time traveling, going to the lake, seeing friends, and hiking around central Texas!”