Adonis Grullon: The Neighborhood Pilot

Flying is an adventurous experience. For some, it’s therapeutic. For others, it cannot be very comforting. That’s certainly not the case for this rising pilot.

Adonis Grullon is from the Dominican Republic. He currently lives in Washington Heights. Adonis has a deep passion for aviation. It all started with his grandfather.

“What inspired me to be a pilot was my grandfather,” Grullon says. “When I used to live in the Dominican Republic, I used to go to the airport all the time with my grandfather to pick up family members at the airport. We used to go several hours before their arrival, grab some food, and watch planes take off and land. It was one of the best things we used to like,” he continued. “All the time we used to go, he always used to tell me that one day he did love to see me in the cockpit. Ever since I saw the first plane take off, I fell in love with aviation and was just curious how such thing could be in the air, so that inspired me to take this career and discover everything behind it.”

Adonis began his aviation career while training at Vaughn College, located next to LaGuardia Airport.


“I did two years and met some wonderful people who, to this day, have helped me stay motivated and pushing forward,” Grullon says. “After two years of being at Vaughn College, I realized I could take my aviation career somewhere else and save more money. I decided to attend BCC and pursue a criminal justice major to add to my resume and do my flying training on the side in long island at republic airport.”

Although Adonis loves what he does, not everyone in his circle is a big fan of his career choice.

“Not all my family members like the career I picked since they find it very dangerous being thousands of feet in the air and being up there most of the time, “Grullon explained. “Also, as a pilot, you don’t get to be around as often, so that is another thing they dislike about the career I picked.”


Adonis with his little brother.

What is the excitement about flying for Adonis?

“The exciting part of flying is getting to fly all over the world and getting to know different places and cultures and meeting new people around the world,” Grullon explained. “Also, the freedom you feel once you in the air and having different beautiful views that not a lot of people get to see or experience. Also, it’s exciting the fact that you get the chance to fly an airplane that not so many people get to do.”

Fear runs through people’s minds when they get on planes and helicopters. Turbulence and heights are a few reasons why. When I asked Adonis if he ever gets nervous or had some fears when he started flying, he said:

“I don’t get nervous when I go flying,” Grullon says. “It’s something that I love and something I always look forward to every time I get the chance to go flying,” he continued. “At the beginning, when I logged my first training hour, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect or how my body would react since flying a small airplane you could feel like your heart is coming out more than when you get on a commercial plane.”

Adonis takes his flying lessons in Long Island at Republic Airport, a small airport mainly for training. Adonis tells us the process of becoming a pilot and the challenges he had to endure.

“The process of becoming a pilot could be challenging and, at times, make you want to quit, but when you have that passion for something and love it, nothing will bring you down,” Grullon stated. “You just have to keep striving and understand that nothing is easy at the end is all worth it,” he continued. “In the process of being a pilot if you have to get three licenses, which are the private pilot license, commercial license, and finally ATP license, which is the last license if you want to go to the airlines or fly private,” Grullon explained. “Each license has a minimum amount of training hours you have to log also; each license requires a written exam and oral exam.”

Adonis also mentions that people stop pursuing an aviation career because of finances.

“The major thing which stops people from pursuing this career is the financial part since training is kinda expensive, but as you move forward, things get cheaper down the road,” Grullon says. “Once you get your commercial license, you become an instructor after that and teach other students to become pilots, and you basically fly for free and log hours as well, which helps pilot reach their ultimate goal, which is getting their ATP license.”

When you want to learn or get better at your craft, you always need a good coach, mentor, or instructor to help you get to the next level. Adonis has an instructor that has guided him in the right direction with his career and formed a respectful admiration and bond with him.

“My instructor and I have a good relationship. We met at Vaughn College, and ever since then, we have become excellent friends,” Grullon explained.


“My instructor is one of the people I look up to a person who has worked hard and has sacrificed a lot to be where he is now and soon to make his dream come true and join the airlines,” he continued. “If it wasn’t for my instructor, I don’t think I would have been pursuing this career since I had moments where I have doubted myself or thought I was capable of getting this done. Thanks to my instructor, he always believed in me and has always motivated me to keep going, so we both come to finish what we started.”

What has been the biggest life lesson for Adonis?

“My biggest life lesson is that no matter how many times you fail, don’t let that kill the love you have for something and keep trying and trying till you get it right,” Grullon stated. “I remember failing my first written exam for my private pilot license, and that destroyed me inside since I felt like this maybe wasn’t for me, but that’s what failure does to you; it makes you second guess whatever you are doing or break you inside,” Grullon expressed. “This also made me step away from aviation for a couple of years, but there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about aviation or walking in the streets and looking up at the sky and watching planes fly and realized that what I wanted in life was just that,” he continued.

“Thanks to my instructor Manny, he kept in contact with me and kept telling me to go back and do what we both love, which is to flying airplanes.”

Adonis is on the verge of finishing his first license. He’s planning to continue with his training until he completes getting all of his licenses.

“It’s still a long road, but I will enjoy every part of it and not let anything stop me from doing that,” Grullon expressed. “My dream job is becoming a pilot, but since I love sports, I would love to be a pilot for a sports team and fly them around and be around sports.”

Adonis has advised people about sticking to what you love and have fun doing it.

“I have always told people to pick a career you love, not a career our parents want you to pursue because at the end of the day the person who will be doing is you and you only live once so enjoy doing something you like not what others want you to do,” Grullon advises. “Dictate your future, don’t let others dictate it for you.”

Adonis loves aviation. If he were to choose another job, it would be an airplane mechanic. Adonis always found that job very interesting since you build a plane and learn everything behind it.


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