Alumnus makes giant leap from Mr. Football to Piedmont Airlines first officer

Markell Jones

Markell Jones (BS professional flight ’19) was always fascinated with flying. He has his father, a pilot, to thank for that.

“My Dad would share stories with us, and I could tell he enjoyed his job,” said Jones. They attended air shows together which made lasting impressions. “I knew from an early age that I wanted to become a pilot and my family encouraged me to pursue it.”

But it was Jones’ skill as a student-athlete that led him to Purdue’s professional flight program. A high school football stand-out, Jones was named Gatorade’s State Player of the Year for Indiana and named Mr. Football as the best player in the state his senior year. He earned a full athletic scholarship to play Division I football at Purdue, eventually becoming number 6 in all-time rushing yards for the Boilermakers.

“My coach emphasized that even though I was a student-athlete, being a student always came first,” Jones said. “Breaking out onto the open field before a game is freeing and gives me the same feeling as flying.”

Jones has been flying for Piedmont Airlines for nearly three years, working his way toward the captain’s seat at American Airlines.

See the full story at Piedmont Airlines.

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