The BC General Aviation Association is a diverse community of aviators and other interesting people for whom aviation is an important part of their lives. The BCGA Featured Members Page is a way for us to get to know the individuals that make our community what it is. The featured members page is being launched on January 15th and will start with 5-10 member profiles. After the initial launch we will endeavor to feature a different member every week.

What is your name?
Suji Seo
Instagram Name (If Applicable):
What is your occupation?
Flight instructor
What is your home airport?
What year did you start flying?
2013Where did you learn to fly?
PPL and CPL in SK, MIFR and Instructor rating in BC

Why did you start flying?
It was the most exciting thing that I could think of to live my life.

What airplane did you learn to fly in?
Cessna 172

What airplane do you fly now?
Cessna 172

What is your favorite kind of flying or place to fly to?
As long as I am airborne, I will take anything! I haven’t discovered BC much yet. I would like to check out all the hidden gems that BCGA pilots know. 🙂

What is your favorite feature on the BCGA website?
Knowledge bank

In a few words describe what the BCGA is to you:
A new chapter of my aviation adventure!

What other aviation organizations / clubs are you affiliated with?
None. I am currently building an aviation community by my own through youtube.

Do you have a business or work at a business that you would like other members to know about:
For sure! I have a youtube channel called ‘flywithsuji’ in order to inspire aspiring pilots in South Korea. I would like to introduce GA side of aviation which doesn’t exist in Korea due to lack of infrastructure and information.

What is your favorite quote?
Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have or do. by Brian Tracy

Other interests:
Flying all kinds of machines, making videos, helping people by education

Anything else you would like to share with your fellow members:
This is an article I wrote on LinkedIn answering a question “How can I become a pilot?” which shares my aviation journey.

For all you aspiring pilots out there, the most frequent question I get asked is, How do I become a pilot if my situation is this that or the other. Whether it be money, age, infrastructure, or motivation. Well, it’s simple but hard at the same time. I’ll explain,…

See, now a-days the world is so connected and the traditional way of becoming a pilot need not be. You don’t need to go to an aviation college or join the air force and hope to be selected for the pilot program. You don’t need to have connections although it would not hurt. You don’t even need to have great grades from high school or have a university degree, in fact in this current aviation environment, the experience is valued more than a degree in some field completely unrelated to aviation. Basically what I’m saying is the world has changed so much that much of the traditional way of thinking and doing things can be altered.

This is my story summed up…

I was born and raised in South Korea, a modest family with humble beginnings, older sister and younger sister, I am the middle daughter. Mom and Dad never emphasized studying much although I was good at it. A’s were a common occurrence as I enjoyed studying. Due to financial constraints, I did not go to the best university which my grades would have allowed. I did end up in a second-tier university and after the first semester, I was awarded full scholarship. During my first year in university, I traveled to Australia on a working holiday, and that was a real eye-opener. Without getting into too much detail, I had highs and lows while living abroad, one of which I was heartbroken. After I came back to South Korea I felt the emptiness of mundane life, go to work come home and repeat. Therefore I sought out travel as a way to expand my horizon. I went to India on a whim with just a backpack. I was there a little over three months, India gave me the urge to explore more.

My next travel plans were to Canada and make my way to Central and South America. Well, life is often not what you plan.

Upon arrival in Vancouver, Canada, I worked entry-level jobs to sustain myself but my mission was to experience different cultures and countries, therefore I thought I would go to the great flat plains and experience life on the prairies. I went to a small town called Gravelbourg in Saskatchewan, a population of 1000 people. I worked at a Korean pub restaurant and ended up there for 4 years with then-boyfriend now distant ex. At this point, you might think I compromised, perhaps, or perhaps I found my true calling and now deliberately executing a new mission with life and career designed in mind. See, never have I ever thought this was possible growing up in Korea, the information and infrastructure were simply not there. But here in the middle of not much, I picked up a brochure on how to become a pilot, it states for recreational or professional in the sense of airlines. My eyes lit up and my brain started to dream, thinking of all the possibilities. At this point, I knew definitively what I wanted to do, no scratch that, MUST DO, for otherwise, I would experience the mundane emptiness all over again.

This was the start of my new plan…

I worked full time in the pub restaurant and was able to earn tips, once realized how much I can save after expenses, I formulated a plan to obtain my pilot’s license. After about a year of saving and not spending much, I had enough to start the private pilot license with the understanding if I continue to work full-time I should be able to finish my commercial license and break even. I did exactly that, and this is how it went…..

For all those not familiar with Saskatchewan, it is FLAT, wide, and sparsely populated and that’s an understatement. Therefore in order for me to attend flight training, I had to drive 2 hours each way from Gravelbourg to Regina International airport making it a total of 4 hours round trip to receive training. I gladly made the effort each time. During the winter months, Saskatchewan is cold, -40 cold and if you don’t plan things out properly, it can get dangerous rather quick. But you learn to adapt to your ever-changing surroundings. And that’s what I did. On top of working full time and saving the money towards flight training, I was learning English, how to pronounce and rid as much as possible my accent and learn the different mannerisms of North Americans. I also learned how to drive 5-speed manual transmission as that was the cheapest used car I was able to afford. Almost everything I did was in concert with my goal, and I never lost sight. Trust me you can’t either, though there are times you will doubt yourself. But I had enough desire and fight to see it through.

At this point the relationship I had with my then boyfriend was deteriorating as he was complacent but yet frustrated with everything, go figure. I knew my goal and path would not allow us to grow together and I was ok with that. In January of 2017, I moved to Vancouver after completing my Commercial pilot’s license after 4 years. Some might think that is a long time to complete one’s pilot license, perhaps, but please take into consideration the following,…

New country
Second language
No family or friends
No savings
These are just some of the obstacles I faced, though there are a lot of smaller ones.

In Vancouver I started my last stage of flight training which is the Multi-IFR rating, simply put, it allows you to fly multiple engines and under instrument meteorological conditions. This is also the place where I met my now boyfriend, he is also a pilot in case you are wondering. Fast forward two more years, which brings us to now January 2019, I completed my instructor rating and is now teaching people how to fly, on top of which I s
tarted a YouTube channel called FlyWithSuji aimed at giving Koreans an insight of the journey of an aspiring airline pilot abroad. As I reflect on my journey thus far, I am grateful and proud of all the hardships, misfortune, and opportunities that life had in store for me, and I have no doubt more is on the way. But through it all, I have grown immensely and this is what I count on to continue as life unfolds in front of me. This is the pride and blessing which everyone can achieve if one is brave enough to journey. Therefore to answer the question at the beginning of this article,

Simple, in that the multiple paths are laid out and many have journeyed ahead of you. Whether it be aviation college, military, or self-funding, it’s all been done. Therefore you don’t need to be a pioneer.

Hard, because the process is not easy, especially if you don’t speak English. Compound that with financial constraints. And if you don’t have good discipline and patience then this may just do you in.

BUT….., through any process worth achieving it is mainly the free attributes that determine the outcome. Diligence, discipline, consistency, patience, and good attitude. I have founded, armed with these attributes, the path generally starts to reveal itself and this said, perhaps this article is about more than becoming a pilot but learning to adapt and use these attributes which we all have.

I am not at my final desired career position yet, and truthfully speaking, I don’t think I’ll ever get there, not because I can’t, but because one thing I’ve learned is as I advance in life, my mindset and attitude evolves, therefore, striving for more, more understanding, more wisdom, more learning, and more sharing. Social media sharing YouTube has been an unexpected source of motivation and learning from my subscribers. Sharing my journey in Canada has in return received much heartwarming positive feedback from interested viewers across the globe. These comments fuel me and make me strive to not only become a better pilot but also a better person.

Some last bits of advice, have faith in the process however short or long it may take, it’s this faith that will carry you through some doubtful times which are inevitable due to arise. Don’t compare yourself with others, for this is your journey and yours alone. Lastly, learn to love the grind, as you will learn later that it’s this process that gives you pride.

All the best,