Southeast Alumna Takes to the Clouds Every Day


Autumn Cabaniss

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 22, 2015 — Southeast Missouri State University alumna Autumn Cabaniss of Panama City Beach, Florida, lives each day with her head in the clouds, her life full of adventure and her heart full of excitement for the people she serves.

Autumn is a pilot for Panhandle Helicopter in Panama City Beach.  Every day she takes tourists out to show them a view of the panhandle that they could not see otherwise. She also helps people create the art others love so much.

“On an average day, I will conduct sightseeing tours over various tourist attractions in the Panama City Beach area. I also frequently complete aerial photography projects and survey flights for a variety of clientele,” she says.

At Southeast, Autumn earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with minors in chemistry and zoology. She credits Southeast with helping her with time management techniques and juggling responsibilities which have helped her in her current career.

“Today, I aid in the responsibility of assuring the airworthiness of the fleet, including pilot authorized maintenance,” she says. “I and the other pilots also manage daily administrative duties and personnel employment. We also work closely with the company owners to optimize crew efficiency and customer satisfaction.”

Autumn says she feels her time here helped bridge any cultural gaps she may face in her industry as well.

“Interacting with many students from different cultures also has helped me excel in customer service. The classes in my curriculum taught me about how interactions with people from different backgrounds can vary greatly. I feel this has contributed to my ability to interact with a plethora of people comfortably,” she says.

Autumn says she chose Southeast because it was close to her hometown of Ellis Grove, Illinois, and it had a wonderful reputation.

“I was offered a great scholarship, and had many high school friends attending. The size of the school and the student to teacher ratio were also major selling points,” she says.

She says her favorite memories at Southeast are the life changing experiences she had here.

“My favorite moment at Southeast was move-in day my freshman year. It was my first time being away from home, and I couldn’t imagine at the time how much my life was going to change,” she says. “I often wish I could return to that time and relive that absolutely amazing year.”

When not in the air, Autumn can be found playing softball with her co-workers.

“While living in Cape Girardeau, I participated in many coed intramural leagues with the city. Now that I live in Panama City Beach, I have convinced my co-workers to join a league with me down here,” she says.

To Southeast students she offers this advice:

“As cliché as it sounds, having a job is one thing, but having a career you are passionate about is truly the way to happiness. Getting an education is crucial, but you are not stuck on one path once you graduate.  As we grow older, we change. There’s always time to pursue a different path and find your true calling,” she says.