View our aviation books
canaero - Canadian aviation history

So you want to be a corporate/charter pilot? page 6

Career profile by Jock Williams

The penalties
Pilots will never earn as much money flying a corporate/charter aircraft as they could in a career in the majors.

Yet, the opportunity to visit more diverse locations and exercise flying skills to a far greater extent is important to many. It all depends on what you find satisfying. If you like playing with the “magic,” there was no aircraft flying in Canada with more of it than my Challenger 604. If you like a sports car feel, my older Lear 25 compares favourably with many of the fighters I’ve flown. In between there are Astras, Gulfstreams, Hawkers and other types too numerous to list. Our airworthiness authorities ensure that there are no bad airplanes and I am a firm believer that this is so. There are bad pilots though, and they are the ones who don’t read the flight manual and take it to heart. Inevitably, you may work with some of them. Run the other way! For pilots who truly love flying, this is the place to do it. If it is just a job, go to the airlines.

Also, there is the occasional employer who thinks you are being paid enough to kill yourself. This employer may come close to demanding that you do exactly that. Your challenge will be found in saying “No” without getting fired. Even if you do get fired, it’s better by far to live to fly another day!

One further comment should be made on the subject of clients/employers. Corporate flying connects you with some of the nicest, most fascinating people in the world. By far the majority are a pleasure to deal with–kind, thoughtful, articulate, generous. It won’t be difficult to understand how they made their fortunes–they are the winners of the world–and deserving of all they have acquired.

Sadly, you will also find a few of the world’s wretches. Fear not! They can be found elsewhere, too. These people are the perpetrators of air rage you read about in the papers. You will come to laugh about them in the crew hotel. As long as you resist strangling them on the airstairs.

A little philosophy
I had friends who left the air force early and joined the airlines. Many of them were laid off several times during their careers, but those who persevered now have well-paid jobs with great security. I stayed on as a fighter pilot, and had the time of my life in the 15 years or so between when they left and when I retired. Who is ahead? I can only tell you that if I had to do it again I’d still choose the route I took. So might they. We humans differ.

The same is true when comparing airline flying to corporate aviation. It’s great finding out one evening that I’m going somewhere I’ve never been, and that it’s up to me to do the flight planning and make the necessary arrangements. I love making it all work out for my passengers–it really delivers a feeling of accomplishment. I have carried heads of state and the country’s richest entrepreneurs and even come to know some of them. That satisfaction wouldn’t be found in a large scheduled airline. Yet, my wallet would undoubtedly be thicker.

Others might not feel the same way
It’s the same thing with the equipment. Fifteen years ago when I first checked out on the Challenger I loved all the new bells and whistles. The plane was state-of-the-art, and it was a thrill to be there. Corporate aviation offers current equipment such as the Global Express, and near antiques like the Lear. Canadian regulations ensure that both will be in superb condition and without major design deficiencies.

Now, when I climb into my Lear, and know that I will hand-fly most of the trip except the cruise phase, that there will be no “magic” guiding my airplane to touchdown, I am reminded of the reasons why I became a pilot in the first place.

« Back | Page [6] of 7 | Next »

The Aviation History Series

Limited edition, collectible aviation books

Support the growth and expansion of this web site by purchasing our first title, Tales from the Lakeview. Order with confidence using the secure, online credit card processing service by PayPal. Anticipate a great reading experience for yourself, beautifully produced, or send a gift anyone will appreciate.

View our aviation books
View our aviation books
217 Bulrush Cres., Gloucester, ON K1T 0E6 Canada

Phone: 613-581-6625
E-mail the publisher © 2011. All Rights Reserved