We caught up with Andrew to learn more about what inspired him to pursue his passions in aviation.
Unlike many of our customers, flying wasn’t in the Herbert family blood. Andrew was born into a family of doctors — and it was somewhat expected that Andrew would follow in their footsteps. However, Andrew had his eyes on a different path.
On a family trip to Alaska, Andrew’s parents sent him flying in a small seaplane in Ketchikan. From that time, at the age of 10, Andrew fell in love with flying — and something about the Alaskan air in particular never left him.
“A few years later we had middle school graduation and everyone was saying what they wanted to be when they grew up — doctor, policeman etc — and I said ‘I want to be a pilot in Alaska.’ Everyone laughed!”
At just 15 he began learning to fly, spending every spare minute working to fund himself to get his hours up. Throughout his high school summer break, he worked in Bahamian import-export in Fort Lauderdale loading aeroplanes. He then spent his cash there on flight training.
His first flying job was instructing at University Air Centre in Gainesville, Florida. Unlike most high school kids, Andrew’s job held a lot of responsibility. He was inspiring another generation to fly, even though his own career had only just begun. His next role was flying blood products at night.
“I would finish school, eat, and then I would take off and fly blood products all around the south-east part of the United States. I would fly until 2 am, and then be up for school the next day. I did this several times a week."
By 18, Andrew was a fully licensed Commercial Pilot — juggling school, work and upskilling his flying capabilities. There was no doubt Andrew was driven.
For a moment, Andrew’s parents had convinced him to apply for Law School. He was accepted into multiple universities after passing his Law School Admission Test, but at the last minute, he made the call that becoming a lawyer was not going to make him happy.
At 21, he left Florida and set off to find his place in Alaska — he printed a resume and went door knocking. After being unsuccessful in Anchorage, he bought a ticket to Fairbanks. Andrew scored his first job with Warbelow's Air Service as the director of flight training.
Andrew’s roles have been extremely diverse, which is what has inspired him to persist in the industry. He’s run Denali Operations, flown for crash investigation for the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), and been a tour guide.
Now Andrew is a pilot at Security Aviation. Security Aviation is a premier air charter company based in Anchorage. Andrew’s role at Security Aviation allows him to explore some of the most remote parts of the State.
“We do everything that you can imagine at Security Aviation. From checking on volcanoes to flying the crew from The Deadliest Catch to Dutch Harbour or flying to the Arctic Ocean. We do air ambulance when people are sick, transporting them to a central hospital. I have flown dogs, cats, injured caribou, famous sports stars — everything!"
Andrew’s role has seen him fly to Barter Island to experience polar bears, meet native communities and experience native delicacies (including whale meat, which he admits he struggled with). He’s felt lucky to be enriched with so many new experiences and people.
Andrew believes Alaska’s remote landscape is what makes it so special.
“Due to the remoteness, there’s a willingness to talk to people and connect. It’s all about relationships. It’s a really eclectic group of people. We’re close and tight knit. And that’s how it has to be here for you to succeed.”
The Alaskan flying community is on another level again.
“The Alaskan flying community is fantastic. Everyone knows everybody. Word travels fast. We eat and drink together after flying, and look after one another’s children. It’s our community that overcomes the remoteness for sure.”
Andrew is multitalented and is the master of crafting his time around achieving his goals. Alongside multiple flying jobs, upskilling, schooling and travel, Andrew has also gained a Mathematics degree with a Minor in Business Management. Since the age of 10, Alaska has had a hold on Andrew, so he’s eager to actualise these skills in his own business someday.
“My plan is to start a charter operation business, finding a niche market here in Alaska. I think if you take small steps, you can do it right.”
Andrew has never been interested in chasing money. Everything he does, he does for the love of it. Although he gained his Airline Certification at 23, he has no interest in working for one. Instead, Andrew wants to create a business where he can meet people, travel, experience rich cultures — but also be home in time for tea.
“I ask my airline friends how it’s going. They say, ‘yeah I’m making a lot of money.’ But they never say they’re particularly happy!”
With travel becoming much more accessible worldwide, Andrew predicts a great spike in aviation over the next 10-20 years.
“Smaller companies will notice the trickle-down effect of travel becoming more affordable. When airline flights are cheaper, people are more willing to further explore a destination. Which is where smaller charter businesses can benefit.”
Affordable travel also sees people exploring year-round, trying to see something different or avoid the crowds.
“Here in Alaska now, there’s no 'offseason.' We have Chinese and Japanese tourists coming through in the winter months to see the Aurora, and groups trying to explore Alaska when it’s at its most rugged. It’s truly a year-round season now.”
Because of this, Andrew believes there’s no better time to get into aviation.
When asked what is the thing Andrew loves most about being a pilot, he answered with camaraderie.
"Being a pilot in Alaska is something you share immediately with another aviator. When you get together two pilots who have worked in Alaska, you can talk and talk. You connect, you’ve probably flown the same plane, and always know the same people."
Andrew's positive personality, and ability to work hard for what he loves is evident. He has an unwavering desire to pursue the aviation industry out of true passion, and we look forward to following his journey.