Profiles of Parkland: Meet Sybil Phillips

Sybil Philips Parkland College Prospectus

Photo by Scott Wells | The Prospectus

Scott Wells

Staff Writer

Sybil Phillips has been interested in flying ever since she was a child, and this translates to her position as the director and chief pilot of Parkland’s Institute of Aviation.

“I grew up on a farm that is located under an MOA (Military Operations Area) that was used by […] the Air National Guard base in Springfield,” she said. “Whenever I saw any plane fly over I wondered where they were going and what did the world look like from their vantage point,”

Originally an agricultural communications major, Phillips took an aviation class in college and it changed the course of her life.

“I earned my private pilot certificate at the Institute of Aviation and then completed all the other pilot and flight instructor certificates and ratings on my own with an institute instructor,” she said. “Eventually I was hired as a flight instructor at the Institute of Aviation and worked there for a few years. Then I spent a year or so at a regional airline just to see what it was all about.”

Phillips soon realized that her heart was still at the institute, so she quickly returned.

The Institute of Aviation was originally part of the University of Illinois until the transition to Parkland in 2014.

“The transition was interesting because I quickly learned that there are many differences in the ways of Parkland and the U of I,” she said. “Fortunately there are very nice people at Parkland who are patient as I travel the learning curve.”

Phillips says that no two days at work are alike, and that is one of the things she loves.

“The chief pilot part of the job involves working with the FAA and TSA to satisfy their requirements and in turn train my staff to assure that we are maintaining excellence in instruction,” she said. “The director part of my job involves […] dealing with the airport, the control tower, our fixed-base operator, vendors, students, staff, and faculty.”

With the start of fall semester, Phillips looks forward to the success of her students.

“I’m flying with some more students this semester and I look forward to seeing them grow in their knowledge and skills,” she says. “Several airlines will be visiting to meet our students and start recruiting them for future jobs.”

She says one of the best perks of her positions is seeing her students earn their well-deserved certificates at the end of their training.

“Every time I get to issue a temporary pilot or flight instructor certificate to a student […] That’s a really big deal in the student’s life and it’s a privilege to celebrate their hard work and diligent effort.”