Major General Leonard Isabelle, a commercial pilot and a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, recently visited the Downtown Boxing Gym to share his story and give our students some insight into the high flying career of a pilot. The “career days” visit was made possible thanks to PWC Detroit.

He has flown all over the world – to Europe, Asia, Japan, Korea, South America and more – as a commercial pilot with United Airlines and a military pilot with the Air National Guard. Our students were captivated by Isabelle’s stories and photos, a model plane he brought to show them, and the chance to try on a real hat and helmet worn by commercial pilots and fighter pilots.

“I always loved engineering and working on things and taking things apart,” Isabelle told the students. “I was lucky enough to go to college and study to be an engineer.”

Isabelle grew up in Detroit. He’s a graduate of Cass Tech High School. From there, he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University in Flint and a Master of Science in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base in 1988. Then, he started rising through the ranks of the military.

“I worked for General Motors designing cars,” he said. “I joined the military because I always wanted to fly. I ended up flying fighter aircraft.”

Isabelle has logged nearly 3,000 flying hours including 260 combat hours, primarily in the A-10 and F-16 aircraft. He has received numerous awards and decorations for his outstanding service.

“This is our third career day at the Downtown Boxing Gym,” explained Daniel Mammah with PWC Detroit. “We want the students to have exposure to different careers and to know they can do these different types of jobs.”

Past visitors have included a race car driver and the founder of Detroit City FC, a semi-professional American soccer club based in Detroit. Thank you, PWC Detroit and Major General Isabelle, for teaching our students that the sky’s the limit if you follow your dreams.