Having a vision of what you want out of life and what the American Dream means to you as an individual has taken a fast track for Kevin Pool, a 2000 graduate of Durant High School. He started flying planes when he was 14 from his home computer and quickly graduated to the more sophisticated programs which included air traffic control and commercial flight simulators.
He has progressed from a computer game at age 14 to managing an international corporate jet flight department by age 30. The road to success didn’t come without a lot of hard work, study and determination. The week he turned 16, he started working 30-40 hours a week at McDonald’s and saving money for flight school.
At age 17, he had saved enough to begin flight training and he traveled to Grayson County Airport several times a week for flight lessons. The summer after his high school graduation he reached his first milestone by getting his private pilot license. His love of flying was now taking off and he set his sights toward the sky as he began his college education already with a head start, having obtained 22 college hours while in high school.
He didn’t let moss grow under his feet in high school either. The high achiever was heavily involved in band and was a percussion section leader, competed twice at the national level at a tournament in debate at Harvard University, and placed ninth in state competition in tennis at the age of 14. He graduated with high honors, receiving a full academic scholarship by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education as well as the University Of Oklahoma Award Of Excellence, which allowed him to attend OU with all expenses paid.
His quest for flying was almost interrupted when he considered becoming a corporate lawyer, but soon found the dry reading and time spent doing research too boring.
“I wanted a career where I could still have flying as a hobby,” said Pool. “That was a lofty goal considering the expense of flying so I switched majors to get a business degree in aviation business management and I could get credit for my previous pilot training.”
Keeping pace with his earlier accomplishments, Pool was able to graduate with academic distinction in just three years at age 20. After graduation he attended graduate training at San Juan College in New Mexico. In 2003, he was hired by US Airways Express as first officer of a small turboprop airliner at age 21. Becoming a commercial pilot so quickly brought with it jokes concerning his young age from both fellow pilots and passengers who were surprised to see such a young man in the cockpit with all the responsibility that goes along with flying a commercial aircraft.
He quickly began to build his flight hours and experience and was promoted to captain as soon as he reached 1,500 hour flight hours at the age of 23 which was the FAA minimum experience and age. A year later, he was promoted to instructor and check airman where he was responsible for teaching initial training for new pilots and completing periodic evaluations of the other pilots.
“I had envisioned flying at a major airline, but the industry had deteriorated greatly since the September 11 attack,” he said. “I decided to switch to corporate aviation flying private jets for large corporations and wealthy individuals.”
He started flying for NetJets, a private company owned by Warren Buffett, where he flew Hollywood icons, politicians sport stars and business leaders. During the economic downturn, NetJets began laying off almost 500 pilots so he took on a new challenge flying a private jet for an African bank based in Lagos, Nigeria. After a year and a half, he was promoted to his current position as chief pilot.
He now rotates between Nigeria and back home in the North Dallas area where his wife Katrina and two sons Andrew and Alan make their home. He and his crew are treated like royalty in a very crowded city of 16 million people and like any big city, has its bad areas.
“We stay in a relatively upscale suburb near the airport and our driver simply avoids the more dangerous areas,” he said. “Unfortunately there are occasional violent clashes between northern Nigeria’s Muslim population and the Christian population in the south, where we are based.”
His duties as chief pilot for the bank are to fly dignitaries including foreign presidents, governors and banking officials to destinations throughout Africa and other places. He has flown to 35 countries in the short time he was been flying for the bank. Whenever they are staying in a country with questionable activity they are assigned a security company to escort them to and from hotels and airports.
Kevin married his high school sweetheart and unlike his flying career, he took his time in getting around to asking her. He and Katrina Weiss attended the same school beginning in first grade and throughout their school days, never dated until their senior year when they began noticing each other.
“We started dating in February before graduation, and then went to OU together,” he said. “We both worked together at jobs during college and got married the summer I graduated from OU.”
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree and may explain some of Kevin’s work ethics. His mother, Brenda taught special education and sixth grade English at Durant Middle School before working as a psychometrist and diagnostician. His brother, Matt Faubion was a National Merit Scholar at DHS and is now a psychiatrist in San Antonio, Texas, specializing in forensic psychiatry.
The sky may be the limit, but since he has achieved that goal quickly he may have to shoot for the stars in the future. His American Dream has been on a fast track and he has never paused long enough to look back. This summer, he and Katrina will celebrate their tenth anniversary and be counting the blessings they have worked so hard to achieve.