What inspired you to become a pilot?
I knew that I wanted to be a pilot when I was 14 years old when a friend of my parents took me for a ride in a small plane. We lived on a lake and it was a seaplane and I thought it was so amazing that this plane could take me places in ways that no other vehicle could. I was totally enamored by everything about it; the way it moved, the sound, the smell, the complexity of all the gauges, buttons, knobs, controls and the fact that the pilot had such great control over it. I was hooked! Right then I knew that I wanted to learn how everything worked and how to get an aircraft to perform exactly the way I wanted it to. I loved the fact that I had gone my entire life up to that point and never met anyone that was a pilot. Did you know worldwide there are approximately 50 doctors to every one airline pilot? Rare, indeed.
How long have you been a pilot and with what airline/company?
I have been a commercial pilot for over 22 years, starting with flying for corporations that owned aircraft to move their executives to and from meetings quickly and efficiently, then I started my own company where I was a test pilot and developed improvements for aircraft that I certified with the FAA and that eventually grew to include ferrying small aircraft (primarily turboprops) all over the world. Very recently, I sold my company of over 20 years and decided to move into the airline industry as a pilot for Sun Country Airlines, flying the Boeing 737 for scheduled service, charter and now we are starting to operate Amazon Prime Air cargo flights as well.
What has been your favorite travel memory?
I honestly have so many, it’s hard to choose just one. I always enjoy the international flights over the North Atlantic or North Pacific and I am proud that I hold the world record for the fastest flight time between Keflavik Iceland and Minneapolis in a light turboprop. However, I always enjoy going somewhere new and the more unusual it is, the better.
I will say, the most awe inspiring place I have visited in my travels was Cairo Egypt, shortly after their revolution. Due to the U.S. State Department recommending against travel there, if I wasn’t a pilot ferrying a plane back from the Middle East, I likely would never have had the chance to visit there at such a turbulent time in their recent history. As I often do when I am traveling someplace new, I spent some extra time there and absolutely fell in love with the people and the history there. Simply amazing!
Where are you looking forward to traveling once it’s safe to do so?
As a pilot, I can’t necessarily wait to travel until it is deemed safe. People and cargo still need to travel everyday for various reasons and my fellow pilots and flight crews still go to work as needed to be able to make that happen. We continue to operate during this global crisis and while travel demand has shrunk dramatically, there are still a lot of very essential movements happening daily. Of course, having said that, I very much look forward to being able to enjoy some of my favorite sunny destinations again, like Hawaii and Puerto Vallarta. But I have really missed just getting away for a weekend here and there to places like Austin, TX, Denver, CO or Miami, FL. Weekend getaways have become a regular part of my life that I am missing very much right now.