February 1, 2023 | ,

James C. Ray Alumni Becomes Frontier Airlines Pilot

By: Cathy Jilbert

We want to extend congratulations to Layton Bracey for landing a job at Frontier Airlines! Layton has long been a part of the SUN ‘n FUN and Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) program. He was awarded the James C. Ray Scholarship to fly gliders and soloed a glider at the age of 14. Later when he was of age, he started his flight training and soloed at 16, later receiving his Private Pilot’s License at 17. He continued flight training and finished additional ratings and licenses, such as his tailwheel endorsement through the Lakeland Aeroclub and his seaplane rating at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, FL.

In the past, Layton has both volunteered and worked as an employee for SUN ‘n FUN. He volunteered in various areas and worked as a Front Desk Administrator for a year while he attended Polk State College and continued flight training. His career after SUN ‘n FUN has included several flying opportunities. After Layton became a Certified Flight Instructor, he started working as a Seaplane Instructor at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base. Soon after, he moved to Talkeetna, Alaska, where he continued instructing at a seaplane base at Alaska Floats for a season. After the summer season, Layton received his first Part-135 piloting job in Bethel, Alaska, flying a Cessna 207. He flew cargo and passengers in and out of small remote villages. The last job he took before his acceptance at Frontier Airlines was a position as a First Officer flying a Beechcraft 1900C out of Anchorage, Alaska, where he continued to fly cargo and passengers around the state of Alaska. This prior job gave Layton “real IFR experience,” as he mentions.

In asking Layton how he feels about making it to the airlines, he states, “This is a dream many students here have. It still feels crazy to me that I am finally at this point in my career. I am extremely blessed and am very excited to gain even more experience and to see the world.” Airlines are a dream for many aspiring pilots. It takes many years and thousands of dollars of training to achieve the minimum hours to even apply for the airlines. It is no easy feat, and pilots must gain many skills, ratings, licenses, and endorsements to achieve these goals. Layton did this by the age of 23.

We asked Layton how SUN ‘n Fun and the Aerospace Center for Excellence have impacted him, and he states, “SUN ‘n FUN/ACE has had a major impact on my life. If it was not for the scholarship program, I do not think I would be where I am today at 23. SUN ‘n FUN/ACE allowed me to gain so much flying experience at a young age by awarding me the James C. Ray Scholarship. I was able to meet some of my closest mentors through SUN ‘n FUN/ACE, and they are the reason I have been able to be successful this early in my flying career.”

Layton provides key advice to the younger generation of Aerospace individuals, “Surround yourself with well-experienced mentors. It can be hard at first to figure out the right path, but having mentors is everything! Also, if you ever have an instructor that is not explaining the material in a way that allows you to understand it, do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for a different instructor to maybe explain it in a different way!”

Layton wanted to give a big shout-out to his Uncle Kevin, Mike Z, and the Lakeland Aero Club and stated, “I am very thankful for the aviation mentoring and experiences they have given me. Without them, I do not think I would be where I am today.” We here at SUN ‘n FUN and the Aerospace Center for Excellence are genuinely proud of Layton and how far he has gone in his career. We wish him the best with his future endeavors at Frontier Airlines.

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