- 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 [email protected] and tell me all about it!