All Aviation Articles By keely

30 Minutes Of Aerobatic Aviation

   Lima Lima Flight team – Originally the Mentor Flyers, began as a non-profit recreational flying club in 1975. The fifteen member club was based out of a residential airpark community known as Naper Aero Club Field (LL10) located just outside of Naperville, Illinois.

   The Lima Lima Flight Team had always been very intrigued by the brightly painted, yellow T-34 Mentor aircraft of the Navy. Since formation flying had always been uniquely a military activity, the club decided to have their T34 aircraft painted to identically mirror the original Navy training colors; with just a few minor differences of course. Specifically, the black tail band; this has become the Lima Lima trademark. Finally, the "Lima Lima" name was derived from the FAA designator of the team's home field in Naperville; LL-10, hence the LL on the tails of their aircraft.

   The Lima Lima Flight Team has evolved their crew in a way that mimics that of the military. As the military trains their pilots, they recognize different levels of formation skills, from basic tactical formation flying all the way up to Blue Angel and Thunderbird demonstration teams. The Lima Lima Flight Team is no different, they practice on a weekly basis, and over time are able to develop more sophisticated formation skills. The team's demonstration is flown with six airplanes, and each of their shows includes several different formation configurations. Some of the favorites include the six ship wedge, double arrowhead, basic finger four and diamond formations. The Lima Lima Flight Team has developed a series of formation aerobatic maneuvers which each demonstrate the full range of the T-34 performance envelope.

   Here in Louisville, Kentucky we have been in celebration mode as we prepared for the Kentucky Derby horse race. Thunder Over Louisville is our annual kickoff event of the Kentucky Derby Festival, occurring each year near the end of April and always overlooking the Ohio River. Each year, the event draws thousands of people to the heart of downtown Louisville all in high anticipation for not only the second largest fireworks display in the nation, but also for the aerobatic airshow!

   In the days leading up to Thunder Over Louisville this year, most of the aerobatic pilots came to our local FBO (Bowman Field KLOU) and I was lucky enough to meet one of the aerobatic pilots of the Lima Lima Flight Team! His name is John Rippinger, but you can call him "The Ripper" for short.

   Originally from Schaumburg, Illinois, John is the president and CEO of Rippinger Financial Group. John has been flying for over 40 years in both fixed wing aircraft as well as balloons. In addition to his flight duties, John also manages over twenty of the product sponsors for the Lima Lima Flight Team. John, his wife Susan and their dog Aileron still live in Illinois today. John started flying T-34's in 1989 and has been a member of the team since 1992. This fast paced and high adrenalin sport, although fascinating to watch is in fact extremely dangerous. Being the student pilot that I am, I was extremely excited to inquire about the speed of his T-34 aircraft. He informed me that during their shows there are times when the aerobatic aircraft travel up to 210 knots; that's equivalent to anywhere between 240 - 250 miles per hour! On average, they expect to pull about 5.5 G's and "No," surprisingly they do not wear G-suits. I had to stop him there; so how do they function and continue to concentrate while pulling 5.5 G's without a G-suit? According to John (The Ripper), the answer is simple; "stiffen your abs and grunt" John says. By doing this simple procedure you are naturally securing your inside organs, and eventually this becomes second nature.

As we continued with our interview, John went on to explain the nature of the team's typical show plan. Each of their shows are strategically planned out and choreographed for them and every pilot has one specific place to be in the formation. The key is that the group remains consistent every single time they rehearse or perform. According to John; the actual act of flying the aircraft must be as familiar as breathing. His only job while flying his T-34 in formation with his five companion birds is to watch the leader at all times.

Again I am absolutely blown away in amazement. Acrobatic aviation is fantastic and extremely fascinating to watch, but I can honestly say that I had never been so openly exposed to aviation like this previously. I never understood the raw talent that goes into preforming a full 30-40 minute aerobatic airshow. I had absolutely no idea what it might feel like or look like as the human body undergoes high velocity tricks or intense G-force speeds. The talent, work and money that go behind the scenes of an aerobatic airshow is out of this world! I have met so many pilots already along my journey as an aviator, each of them fantastic in new and different ways that surprise me. The Ripper opened my eyes to a branch of aviation that I had not experienced at all and for that, I am ever grateful.

(Historical information provided by www.limalima.com)

Jim and Matt

Note from the Author: Thanks again for stopping by to read my articles! You are all such inspiring aviators and pilots, and I really appreciate you for reaching out to me with your comments and emails. I hope you enjoyed this article, and keep up the awesome thoughts, comments and on-blog conversations! -As always, please feel free to message us anytime at www.Globalair.com - We would love to hear from you!

Citation X Captain Pilots For World-Renowned Fractional Operator

   On warm and sunny days here in Louisville, Kentucky, I have made a habit of going out to the field that lies due south of my father’s house. There in the field I feel at home; I lie down in the cool, soft grass, look up at the endless sky as I ponder my life. High above this planet where the vapor turns to gas, there is no such thing as hurt, there is no such thing as pain; there is no war and there is no evil. Up there, life is peaceful, beautiful and every shade of blue. It fascinates me to imagine how simple life could be; all we have to do is take the time to stop and see the world around us. Life has a funny way of twisting and turning in every direction except the one we are expecting; and once we lose our way, we are apt to miss out on something really great. There are always going to be reasons why we never did those things we wanted most, but that is so silly. Live your life, do everything you ever dreamed of doing and don’t look back.

   This time, my story is about a boy who knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a pilot. So much so that he would lie awake at night, letting his imagination carry him away as he slipped into fantasies of flight. The year was 1970, young Jeffrey Newcomb was twelve years of age and constantly on the lookout for anything aviation. Jeff would spend days with his nose in a flying magazine, any that he could find. Specifically, Jeff he recalls reading Air Progress, Private Pilot, Plane and Pilot and Flying. Jeff wasn’t quite sure why this dream had found him, be it spiritual or for the simplicity of freedom; but he supposed it didn’t matter anyway. What mattered was that he knew he was going to be a pilot someday. Unfortunately, bad news was lurking in the shadows for your young Jeff. One night over a family dinner, Jeffrey attempted to first express his passion for aviation to his parents. Needless to say, times were different then and aviation was less than safe according to Jeff’s mother and father. Jeff’s father had served time in the NAVY and although he had not piloted himself, he had a horrible fear of flight and refused to see his son put himself in such “danger.” On top of that, it has been said that the 70s and early 80s were NOT the best time to become a career pilot simply due to the large number of military pilots coming out of the Vietnam war. Ultimately, Jeff’s father had different ideas for his son and promptly began pushing him towards a career in business, sales and marketing.

   When the time came for Jeff to go away for college, he headed off to the University of New Hampshire in order to complete his undergrad degree. In 1979 Jeff graduated from UNH with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration as his father had suggested. Jeff continued forward with in his education and almost immediately ventured off to Antioch New England Graduate School located in Keene, New Hampshire, where he received his master’s degree in counseling Psychology. Still unsure as to what profession he may finally end up pursuing, Jeff went off to George Mason University located in Fairfax, Virginia where he completed a second master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

   In 1987, Jeff went to work part time with an old country medical doctor out of a private office. For the next five years the medical doctor and Jeff worked together helping each other, help others. Once a week, Jeff would take over this medical office in order to meet with his clients for their routine therapy sessions. Jeffery enjoyed helping people in any way that he could, yet, he began to notice a pattern in his work. Although Jeff met with many different types of patients over the years, he found that he primarily spoke with married couples in couple’s type therapy. Some rekindled their love while others ended harshly in divorce and misfortune. Although these relationships and occurrences all took vital importance in Jeff’s life, none affected him quite as much as the divorce of his own parents. In 1992 Jeff’s parents filed for a divorce and just like that Jeff’s life had changed. He no longer desired a career in psychology; Jeff was ready to do just exactly what his parents had always advised him not to do. Needless to say, in January of 1993, when Jeff was thirty-five years old he began taking flight lessons. Again, people in Jeff’s life discouraged him from aviation. They told him that he was too old, the lessons would cost too much money, he would never be able to make a career out of flying without military background, etc.

Jeff wasn’t listening.

   Luckily, Jeffrey had friends in the business. His old pal Lee and colleague Greg owned and ran a small FBO named Sky Bright out of Laconia, New Hampshire. There in Laconia, Jeffrey Newcomb learned to fly despite every negative thing anyone had ever told him. It took Jeff roughly one year to complete all necessary pilot training and in 1993, he became certified to instruct and began teaching student pilots at Sky Bright. At this point in Jeffrey’s career he needed to begin building his time in multi-engine aircraft so that he could begin a new job as a charter pilot and work his way up in business. Some twenty thousand dollars later, Jeff was successfully checked out to fly the Beechcraft Baron as well as the Cessna 310 and in no time at all he was began his new career as a charter pilot flying the Baron for Sky Bright.

   In the spring of 1995, Jeff jumped on board a new flying opportunity and was off to Orlando, Florida in order to pursue an offer to fly for Comair Airlines. At Comair, Jeffrey flew as first officer for several years before he was transitioned north to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became the captain on the Brasilia for one year. During these five years Jeff also flew the Canadair Regional Jet as well as the Metroliner. Newcomb absolutely loved this job and intended to stay…until a massive strike broke out in 2001. Just in the nick of time one of the largest international, fractional operator/time shares opened their door in search of a captain to fly their Cessna Citation X aircraft. Jeffrey Newcomb calls it “a spiritual thing” that he was lucky enough to be granted with such an incredible opportunity. In no time at all the cards played out and he was dealt a fantastic hand. Suddenly Jeffrey was on board and working his dream career with only 4500 hours of flight time.

   Today, twelve years later, Jeffrey has 4600+ hours in the Citation X aircraft, he has maintained his career with the same time share company and he says he could not be more thrilled! Jeffery will tell anyone he meets that he absolutely loves serving people; he enjoys making things happen and in turn, seeing people smile. “Airline flying was easy compared to private! However, flying corporate and fractional are so much more rewarding because you (as their pilot)get the opportunity to actually work one on one with your guests” Jeffrey states. “The greatest satisfaction is providing service directly to the people that you fly.” Also, Jeff thoroughly enjoys the variety of his trips. During an average week, Jeff typically flies to several different places. On any given day he may be flying a family to fabulous Bermuda for vacation, then turn around and spend the night in Aspen, Colorado that very same evening. With his current company, Jeff has also become very accustom to transcontinental flights where he may begin a trip in Teterboro, New Jersey, have dinner off the coast of southern California and be prepared for takeoff to Lakeland, Florida first thing the very next morning!

   The moral of this story is to not ever give up trying, on the things you want most out of life. Thirteen year old Jeffrey Newcomb sat at his family’s dinner table and thought very sincerely that all was lost. He thought his dreams of one day becoming a pilot were no more and he certainly would be sentenced to live a life on the ground. I’m here today folks, to tell you the good news of Jeff’s very real success story. On this very day, Jeff is a pilot working for a very successful company and living a very successful life. Against all odds, Jeffrey Newcomb did it. Currently, Jeff is living back home in small town New Hampshire with his adoring wife, Adriana and any spare time that he finds, he designates to students pilots. Jeff is excited to be back and instructing at Sky Bight, where he taught twenty years ago. Flying still excites Jeff to the nth degree. He feels excited to push the starter button on the engine of his Citation X and he still gets butterflies as he prepares for takeoff. Jeff enjoys watching the sun rise above the clouds and he states that he has the best office in the whole world; seeing the stars at night and ground below thrills him now more than ever and he wouldn’t trade for a thing.

Jim and Matt

Note from the Author: Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my article! I cannot even begin to describe how much I’ve learned in just a few short months since I started with this series. You are all such inspiring aviators and pilots, so thanks for reaching out to me with your comments and emails. I hope you enjoyed this article, and keep up the awesome thoughts, comments and on-blog conversations! -As always, please feel free to message me directly with your thoughts at - keely@globalair.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Regional Corporate Pilot: via “The Pilot Slot”

   A leadership coach once spoke of growing up in Nebraska. When he spoke, he said “there are things you learn while growing up in the country that you just can't learn anywhere else.” I found that extremely fascinating; after all, a person’s roots typically tends to tell a lot about that person. Interesting fact; because of this article, I learned that many famous names have come out of Nebraska, including Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Johnny Carson and Larry the Cable Guy! Although I’ve not personally met with any of those people, each of them had what it takes to fight for what they wanted in life. Becoming a household name doesn’t typically happen overnight. I would like to share with you a story of one truly inspirational pilot and fine Nebraska native that is living and breathing aviation every single day.

   Jim McIrvin was born in Nebraska in 1964. He grew up on his family’s farm, went to school and played with his friends; no different than any other young boy his age. Jim was just a boy in grade school when he met a science teacher that changed his life. He never forgot this man, for he was a man who collected and built model airplanes. If that wasn’t inspiration enough, Jim’s best friend’s “Uncle Gene” was sure to push Jim over the aviation edge. Jim was in the second grade when “Uncle Gene” came into his class for career day and spoke high and wide of his job as a Coast Guard Pilot. People don’t tend to forget the days that change their lives, and for Mr. McIrvin, this had been one of those days. Years later, while the family packed things up and prepared to move off of the farm, Jim would stumble across his father’s dusty old log book from World War II. Although his father had been trained as a pilot in the war, he never had a chance to actually fly in the war. Nonetheless, Jim appreciated and respected his father for this, and so it was, aviation had officially been set in stone for Mr. Jim McIrvin. Unfortunately, as a boy, flight was nothing more than a dream for McIrvin. Jim spent most of his childhood with his head in the clouds, dreaming of a day when his feet might join him. All the while, Jim kept busy on the ground, building model airplanes of his own and farming his family’s land. While in high school, Jim applied and was accepted into an Air Force ROTC program that would eventually grant him with an opportunity to attend college in Saint Louis, Missouri at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology; via “the pilot slot.”

   It wasn’t until 1983 however, that Jim’s feet finally met his heart and soul in the sky. He was a sophomore in college, spending his spare time in one of the various local FBO’s of the Saint Louis, where he would go to watch the planes take off and come in. One afternoon, a man flew in from out of town in his personal Bonanza aircraft and asked Jim if he would care to accompany this man to a local airplane museum. Startled at first, certainly Jim couldn’t pass on an opportunity such as this. He kindly complied and off they went into the horizon via the stranger’s Bonanza aircraft in search of the aviation museum.

   During Jim’s senior year in college, he was awarded with his second pilot scholarship; this time, Jim had been awarded with an opportunity to pursue flight training in an accredited Air Force pilot training program. However, before he would become eligible to be sent into this pilot training, the Air Force required Jim to complete a rather lengthy screening process as well as successfully accomplish his first solo flight within seven hours of dual training with an instructor. Once Jim had successfully completed this task, as well as the required screening, he would be finished with his Air Force duties until the day he graduated as an officer. Until then however, there was no was no way that Jim would be sitting around with his feet on the ground! McIrvin had begun with his private training and wasn’t planning on stopping after just one solo flight. At that point, Jim took matters into his own hands and finished his private training at the FBO with his instructor. Once Jim had successfully completed his private pilot training he began competing with the NIFA program (National Intercollegiate Flying Association) via Park's flying team; the Flying Billikens. Apparently, Jim had been affiliated with this program throughout all four years of his college career; however, he had only participated as a ground member. It wasn’t until McIrvin’s senior year that he would compete nationally in the “SAFECON” flight competition, located at Ohio State University.

   Finally in 1986, Jim McIrvin graduated from Park’s College of Engineering, and carried on into the United States Air Force. During McIrvin’s military training he flew the Cessna T-37 Tweet as well as the Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft for precisely one year. Upon graduating from this training, McIrvin went directly to the FAA in order to test for and acquire his commercial pilot’s license. At that point, Jim was sincerely in need of flight time; no worries though, Jim was headed overseas on his very first Air Force assignment flying an F-111 in Desert Storm combat. In 1991, Jim became a certified flight instructor teaching student pilots to fly military aircraft such as the F-111, F-16 and the T-38. After teaching students on the side for just one year, McIrvin received his ATP rating in 1992. In 2000, Jim decided to transition into the Air Force Reserves in order to take a very promising FO airline job working for United Airlines, flying the Boeing 737. This was fantastic experience and not to mention great flight time for Mr. McIrvin. Unfortunately, once 9/11 happened, United Airlines laid off several thousand employees for a companywide downsize movement and needless to say, Jim was one of these several thousand involved. It was because of the downsize that Jim decided to reconnect with the military on a full-time, active duty status. In 2007 Jim added his single engine sea rating as well as a multi-engine sea rating and in 2010 McIrvin became type rated to fly in the Embraer Phenom 100 as well as the Phenom 300.

   In 2008, Jim retired from the United Stated Air Force and went to fly for the newly developed flight department of The Southern Bleacher Company. With this company, Jim flew in one of two different aircraft, depending on the job; either a Socata TBM 850 or Cirrus SR22. Today however, four years later, the Southern Bleacher Company’s fleet has grown and now includes two very beautiful aircraft; an Embraer Phenom 100 as well as a Piper Malibu Mirage. Jim’s job as chief pilot is to maintain these aircraft and of course, fly them to and from regional job sites. As a hobby, McIrvin continues flight instructing on the side. He is also very involved with the Young Eagles program and he serves as mentor pilot in the Phenom aircraft.

   From a very young age Jim knew that he wanted to fly. He didn’t look at the long term things like time or cost; and he didn’t care about the expense of how he might get there. Jim knew what he wanted from life and he never took “No” for an acceptable answer. “Just because the answer was No today, does not necessarily mean it will be the same answer tomorrow, or the next day” Jim stated. Jim McIrvin enjoys being a role model and a leader in the aviation world. He encourages all young people who dream of flight, (people like me) to take that leap and never look back. McIrvin says “Don’t be afraid to ask the questions; if it’s something you want, don’t ever stop trying.” As I conclude I would like to thank Mr. Jim McIrvin for contacting me and telling me his story.
   -- Jim shared with me a specific memory that touched his heart in a very special way. Years ago, Jim was very much involved with the Young Eagles program, even more so than he currently is today. McIrvin was giving free discovery flights to the young cadets involved in the program and out of the kindness of his heart; he chose to fly these cadets in his own private aircraft. One young man in particular, by the name Matt, sought after Mr. Jim McIrvin and asked for help in acquiring his private license. Young matt had been the only student that had chased after flight lessons and his willingness to fly sparkled in his eyes. Young Matt wasn’t taking “No” for an acceptable answer. Jim greatly appreciated Matt’s drive to learn, and made a bargain. Matt was to come to the airport on a regular basis and clean Jim’s personal aircraft in exchange for flight lessons. As the story goes, Matthew completed his private and carried all the way through flight training. In 2010 Matt graduated from flight school and is now a pilot in the U.S. Air force.

   There are pilots all over the world who want to share their story and their talents with young flight-driven students. Like Jim McIrvin, these pilots hope to help in leading students down a pathway to success. In the words of Jim McIrvin, “if it’s your dream, keep after it and never let it go.”

Jim and Matt

Phenom 100 with Jim

Note from the Author: Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read my articles! I cannot even begin to describe how much I’ve learned in just a few short months since I started with this series. You are all such inspiring aviators and pilots, so thanks for reaching out to me with your comments and emails. I hope you enjoyed this article, now get yourselves prepared for my next article and in the meantime, keep up the awesome thoughts, comments and on-blog conversations! -As always, please feel free to message me directly with your thoughts at - keely@globalair.com. I’d love to hear from you!

So You Think You Want To Be A Pilot: The International Corporate Pilot

    On the thirtieth day of March, in 1984, a Palestinian leader comfortably traveled from Tunis, Tunisia on to Conakry, Guinea in a private Gulfstream jet. The Palestinian leader plans to attend a funeral ceremony to pay respects to the recently deceased Guinean president, Ahmed Sekou Toure. The Gulfstream jet made its way from Tunis all the way to the Conakry Airport and was near final approach to land before ever encountering any error.

    Somewhere around five thousand feet on the decent, the captain of the Gulfstream aircraft became aware of an immensely overflowing pattern. At that point, the Gulfstream pilot had no choice but to hold in the pattern, this lasted for nearly an hour. Suddenly, the president of Nigeria entered the pattern from some thirty-five hundred feet in a 707 aircraft and he was not stopping. “Nigeria is landing, NOW” the 707 calls out! At this point, the air traffic control tower lost all control of the small runway and in mere moments the airport became amidst in utter chaos. The Pilot of the Gulfstream jet was rapidly running out of options and fuel, as he made an abrupt but necessary executive decision. The Gulfstream simply could not wade through this mess any longer; they would have to make an attempt to land and refuel elsewhere. The nearest FBO was located approximately 90 miles Southeast of Conakry, in a place called Freetown, located in Sierra Leone. The Gulfstream pilot immediately diverted his aircraft to Freetown, and upon arrival he was given the approval to land. On final approach however, his passengers demanded that he hold back and change course. “We cannot land here” said one of the Palestinian guards. His voice is stern and he was not budging, the pilot and his copilot, unsure as why they were unable to land in this town, had to come up with another plan. They MUST land somewhere or they were sure to deplete of fuel completely. The Gulfstream jet has no choice but to around, backtracking the 90 miles northwest to the Conakry airport.

    Upon returning back to the Conakry airport the pilots were less than enthused to learn that the FBO had completely sold out of fuel and the FBO would remain out of service until sometime around midnight. At this point, the Gulfstream crew had been on duty for thirty hours, they were completely exhausted and they had yet another flight to make prior to their shift ending. Once The Gulfstream was able to be refueled and serviced the crew made their way to Casablanca where the airplane was finally shut down and the crew was able to rest. “Think that sounds like fun? Because I certainly do! “

     As a small child, we all have dreams. Children are adventurous and fascinated by the world, developing new questions and ideas every single day. Unfortunately, the things we dream of most as children rarely last the entirety of our lives. The things you wanted most are likely to change with age and wisdom and what you thought you wanted to become when you were grown had a tendency to change. This however, was not the case for the strong pilot in charge of the Palestinian leader’s Gulfstream jet. The pilot in command of that particular ship was a man by the name of Gregory Hundrup. As a young boy, Greg would look up into the sky whenever he would dream of his future. As a child his very favorite television show was “Sky King” and as far back as Greg can remember he says that he knew one thing for certain and that was his love for airplanes; they fascinated him. He knew, even as a child that he was willing to do whatever it would take to become a pilot; and that is exactly what he did.

     Greg started flying while he was still in high school. Working a part time job in a machine shop, he saved every penny he made and spent them all on flying lessons. In less than one year Greg was able to successfully pass his check ride and in 1967 Greg received his private pilot’s license. Once he graduated from high school in 1970, Greg joined the military, where he worked as an air traffic controller. In 1975, Greg completed his time as an active duty soldier and began working full time as a flight instructor in Dothan, Alabama. In 1977 Greg retired from instruction and took a job flying the co-pilot’s seat of a Learjet 25 for a private charter company.

     Some three years later, Greg stumbled across an advertisement inquiring for a Gulfstream pilot in Saudi Arabia, thinking it was surely a longshot, he applied anyway. “Go big or go home, right?” Greg applied and Greg got it! He was in the big leagues now, hired on as a first officer. Greg Moved to Saudi Arabia and flew the captain’s seat for ten years, then one day, Greg decided to make a career change. He then jumped ship and began flying in Southeast Asia for a family owned flight department where he flew for yet another ten years. Finally, in 2000, Greg went to work for a company known as Franklin Templeton Investments where his job was and still is to fly the company’s international fund manager around the world in search of investment opportunities. The company caters to four individual pilots specifically, and together they make up the fund manager’s personal flight crew, trading on and off shifts every twenty-one days. This means that Greg routinely flies a Gulfstream jet around the entire world for twenty-one days; then he is sent home via airline for another twenty-one days of rest.

    Imagine taking a day trip to Switzerland, then on to dinner in Paris, France; traveling throughout Europe in a week’s time, then on to the Far East for the following weekend. Greg’s life rapidly whips and turns him all the way around the globe; frequently taking trips through multiple countries in a single day. The countries that Greg sees on a daily basis are often places that an average person could never even dream of visiting. Interesting thought; although Europe fascinates me (personally) the most, Greg stated that his favorite part of the world is the Far East. He enjoys the friendly, warm and inviting people of Thailand; the seemingly spotless and safe, international city of Singapore; the lovely and tropical countryside of the Philippines; as well as the variety, shopping and Chinese cuisine in Hong Kong.

    Living this life sounds extravagant and surreal to me; upon asking Greg how he feels about his career, I received the perfect and most ideal answer imaginable. Greg loves his career. Throughout his endeavors, aviation has brought many great things into Greg’s life, including fantastic benefits, a rewarding salary, close friendships and even a loving wife. I asked Greg if he had a “least favorite” thing about his career as an international corporate jet pilot and his answers were “Africa, Russia and India.” (I found that comical.) It is my understanding that the air traffic controllers are less than easy to communicate English with in some of these places; specifically places where Portuguese is the primary language. Fortunately, at the end of the day, all is great on Greg’s end. He had absolutely no complaints regarding his career and that was stand-out fabulous for me to hear! C’mon, how many people do you know that are excited to get up and go to work each day?

    Greg’s twenty-one days in the air are of course followed by twenty-one days on the ground. When Greg is on what he refers to as his “holiday,” he resides at home with his adoring and ever so patient wife in small-town, East Washington State. This is also the place he calls home for his personal Cessna 210 aircraft that he flies recreationally with friends and family.

    Greg’s career is mind blowing to me. Just think, he has adventured completely around the world and then back again; says his company typically travels to an average seventy countries per year and will cruise the entire world in a matter of two-hundred days. We’re not finished yet though pilots, if you’ve got the story, I’ve got the skills. Just sent me an email to email to keely@globalair.com. I’d love to hear from you!

So You Think You Want To Be A Pilot: The Commercial Cargo Pilot

    Pi•lot
  • One who operates or is licensed to operate an aircraft in flight.
  • One who guides or directs a course of action for others.
  • Serving or leading as guide.
     Pilots are people too, right? They’re people who happen to venture high in the sky in search of adrenaline, speed and worldly travels. The strange part is, less than 0.1 percent of people in the world will actually take the necessary steps of action to learn to fly an aircraft; an even smaller percentage of people will become professional pilots.

    No matter how you see it, each pilot's journey is bound to begin in generally the same way, via a single piston engine aircraft. “We must walk before we can run.”

     For young Gary Katz, one flight was all it took and he was sold. Gary was young and certainly impressionable on the day of his very first flight; nonetheless, in the back seat of that dusty old Cessna aircraft, his life was changed for the better. It was because of Gary’s father that he initially became engaged in flight and it was by his father’s suggestion that he eventually enrolled into The Civil Air Patrol.
     With years came wisdom, and as Gary grew, so did his passion for flight. After college, Gary went to work for a small, locally owned airport outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. This is where he learned to fly. Once Gary completed his pilot training, he accepted a job as a flight instructor and continued logging hours and experience while he shared his newfound talent with young, ambitious pilots that came his way. A few years later Gary Katz took on a new type of piloting job where he flew cancelled checks in twin engine Cessna airplanes for a company that provided international express mail services. This was a rather enjoyable job indeed, however, the maintenance of the aircraft was subpar and that made him feel somewhat uneasy about taking long trips. Eventually Gary continued forward with his career and began flying for an airline headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Finally, in 1989 Gary hooked the fish that sank the boat and was hired to fly cargo for UPS out of Louisville, Kentucky. This time, Gary flies primarily domestic cargo in DC-8 aircraft that are all maintained superbly and very well kept. Also, due to the UPS scheduling system, Gary receives a fairly negotiable schedule that keeps him at home with his family as much as possible.
     The more I learned about the life of a commercial cargo pilot, the more excited I became. Clearly this would be a rather lofty goal, but as far as a “dream career” goes, I would venture to say the cargo pilot has a seemingly pleasurable day at work. Unfortunately, Gary is “on the road” quite frequently, and his working hours are set up quite differently than your typical 9-5 office position. Nonetheless, Gary says that he thoroughly enjoys his work; and from a student pilot’s perspective, that is very nice to hear. According to Gary, the most difficult part about his job working as a cargo pilot is the time that he must spend apart from his family, as well as the late night shifts that throw off the natural human circadian rhythm. “If that’s the most difficult thing about being a cargo pilot, then I’m in!”

     Also, of course there are certainly perks included in the life of a professional pilot. In Gary’s spare time he has taught his son to fly, passing the talent right down his family line. On weekends he takes trips with his friends and family via his personal Cessna 182. Gary has also successfully developed a volunteer organization known as The Kentuckiana Volunteer Aviators. I’m far from the end on my road to discovering the inside scoop on the life of a professional pilot; but this was a fantastic start and I am feeling more inspired than ever! I can’t wait to meet and speak with my next professional pilot. Do you have a good story? I would love to hear from you! Just send me a quick email to keely@globalair.com and tell me all about it! 

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