CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A Charlotte pilot is celebrating Independence Day, thankful for the freedoms and opportunities he’s had since immigrating to the United States in 2008.
Miten Patel and his family moved to the United States from Devgadh Baria, India more than a decade ago. Patel remembers the journey to Charlotte well.
“The first night in the US we slept in the Washington DC airport — and we didn’t bring any money with us… we didn’t have any money. I was excited just watching airplanes take off and land just having fun…”
Patel said one thing stuck out to him in the airport terminal was all the flight crew walking to and from their gate.
“We saw a lot of pilots and flight attendants carry their kit bags… and I was like, I wish I could do that someday.”
New to the land of opportunity, Miten knew he couldn’t waste any time learning to fly, especially since it was impossible where he came from in India.
“it’s hard to be a pilot in India and work at the gas station or hotel front desk. It’s impossible for that kind of pilot education.”
Miten got to work finding multiple jobs around Charlotte. From working at an Econo-Lodge to Ross Dress For Less, and a gas station; His work was cut out for him. With no car or other form of transportation to get from home to work and his flight lessons, Miten had to get creative. It all came together one day while he was walking back home from work when he found a bike discarded in a dumpster.
“I was managing the gas station making good money, working ten hours a day. In the morning I would go take my flight lessons… two a week.” Patel remembered. “I thought I can get 40 hours and get my pilot license — and I can be an airline pilot. I didn’t know anything else — and it’s a good thing I didn’t know otherwise I wouldn’t have started.”
Hour by hour Miten got more time behind the yoke of a plane. To log hours, Miten even offered to fly people for free around North Carolina and the Southeast. It was in 2014 that he landed his first commercial job with Air Choice One flying Cessna Caravans out of Chicago O’Hare. It wasn’t long before he was offered his first job on a jet, with GoJet in Raleigh-Durham on the CRJ.
The sheer effort Miten put into his flying wasn’t apparent until the day his parents joined him on a flight, on a familiar route. Washington DC to Charlotte, the same path the Patel’s took when they first immigrated to the United States in 2008. Instead of watching planes take off and land, Miten was at the controls.
“Being an American is a dream for so many people in the world — and I get to live that dream. I’m very happy about it.”
Miten has flown with ATI Cargo on the 767 since 2019. This year he upgraded to Captain, an honor and symbol of his hard work nearly a decade in the making. An accomplishment he says is proof anyone can achieve their dreams, big or small.”
“Listen to yourself and don’t give up, anything is possible.”