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Airline pilot began his career at TCC

Paul Youngk III, a 2002 Tidewater Community College graduate, has flown his Boeing 767 to virtually every place in the world you can name. He lists Italy, Germany, Japan and Iceland as his favorite places to be… “other than Suffolk, Va.,” says the graduate of the former John Yeates High School.   

Paul Youngk IIIToday Youngk, 60, lives in Salisbury, Md., but he grew up in the Hobson section of Suffolk. When he graduated from high school in 1971, TCC was the natural option, though he often had to be creative about getting to class.

“I had an old Volvo, and when it would break down, I would jump in my duck hunting boat and ride my boat to the dock of TCC, the old Portsmouth Campus,” he says.

At that time, Youngk considered medicine, with his eye on a transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University. He thrived at TCC, building lasting mentoring relationships with several professors, including Joe Reish, who still teaches psychology at the college today.

“They took me under their wing, counseled me and advised me what I needed to do to better myself,” Youngk says. “Sometimes we even went duck hunting or fished together.”

Youngk recalls rewarding classes he completed in biology, physics, English literature, chemistry and Western civilization. He called himself a pre-med student and transferred to VCU without finishing up at TCC, but he was so close that he met the requirements years later, finally graduating with an associate of science in 2002.

“I probably set the record for taking 31 years to get an associate degree,” he jokes.

Youngk's planeDeciding against medicine, Youngk followed his love of aviation. During his years at TCC, he was a private pilot who regularly offered $5 round-trip flights from the Suffolk Airport to Cape Hatteras. After stints working at the Virginia State Health Department and as a charter boat captain, Youngk became a commercial pilot. He worked for Ryan International Airlines for 23 years, including 18 as a captain, having amassed more than 21,000 hours in the sky. His time included worldwide troop transport, war zones included.   None of it would have been possible, he said, without the foundation TCC provided.   

“TCC is the reason I succeeded in life,” he says. “When I was there going to school, I felt like I was going to be somebody. I felt like that opened up the door to the world for me.”

Today, Youngk is the chief pilot for BSW America. He and his wife, Jane, have been married for 23 years. He has two grown sons, Paul IV and William.

“It all started right there at TCC; I’m probably one of the school’s proudest graduates,” Youngk says. “When I go sailing today, I love to sail to Tidewater because I have so many good memories there.”

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