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What makes a good Corporate Pilot?

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Well-known member
Dec 5, 2002
I heard some pilots talking over the weekend and they were some of the most arrogant, ego driven, crotchety old men I had ever come across in my life. They did not know I was a pilot so I just listened in to what they were talking about. They thought they should be paid better then surgeons. Personally, I disagree, but to each his own.

While listening to those guys, I thought of my sparring partners here at flightinfo and wondered what all of you thought makes a good corporate pilot. I'll even settle for what you think does not make a good corporate pilot, but I would prefer your thoughts on what exactly it is that makes a good corporate pilot. I'll go 1st.......................

Personally, I think a great corporate pilot is one that truly understands the fact that the job is 10% flying and 90% details.

Just rolled one on? So what, that's your job. Fly a great ILS, did ya? Who cares, that's what you get paid to do. Mr. GotBucks has no idea what you just did. Just negotiated at .75 cent per gallon fuel discount and the upload you got is not only cheaper than you get at home, but it is the cheapest per gallon uplift you have gotten all year; big deal, odds are anyone outside the flight department that matters will have no clue you just saved the company $750 on your 1000 gallon purchase because you had the foresight to realize you could do better than posted retail.

I know that must sound harsh, but it is true. Boss shows up and is on the phone so you don’t have a chance to tell him the WSJ driver failed to show up at the FBO this morning with his favorite paper; the only thing that is going to be remember is that you forgot the paper. The cleaner saw there was only a swallow left in the Grey Goose bottle, so he took it inside the office and forget to bring a new one out to the plane; once again, boss' favorite drink that you know he loves is not on board so who is to blame? 20 minutes out you call the FBO and ask them to have the rental car standing by for the boss to hop right into so he can get to the meeting the enroute WX has made him late for and the FBO CSR says, "Oh yeah, it's here”, then blows you off with an aggravated sigh and as it turns out it is not here and they have to call over to the terminal and beg some pi#sed off min wage employee to double time it over to the FBO while the boss waits; who's fault do you think that is going to be? Who is going to get blamed for that? Your passengers will remember a great landing right up until the time you bang one on in a stiff X-wind, then they'll forget all about the good one and now the bad one is stuck in their mind.

When learning to fly, they beat into you that it is imperative to stay ahead of the airplane; anticipate the next phase of the flight. My point to all of this is that I believe a good corporate pilot is someone that has solid control of the details. Someone who stays ahead of the details; the things that are small but whose absence will be noticed. What say you???????
Hire for Attitude, Train for Experience

Wow, after reading that I'm reminded how fortunate I am to fly for a guy who brings his own papers, doesn't drink on the plane, keeps an SUV at the airports we frequent, shows up on time, pays us well and thanks us often.

To answer your question: I live in an area that's home to some of the best corp jobs in the country. I know many of the pilots personally. Some are great at flying airplanes, some are just OK. The common thread seems to be an exceptional attitude and respect for co-workers.
I have a gig not unlike HMR's. Really good part 91 job. Boss respects you and your time, treats us as a valued member of the business team and dang near as a member of the family. The common thread I have found, first with captains and now with the co-pilots I fly with is a few things. The guys I respected the most and learned the most from, treated everyone they came in contact with dignity, from the boss's wife to the line guys throwing bags to the car service guys. Also, customer service was paramount except when it conflicted with safety. I've been very fortunate to have always flown with captains who would never let any principal pressure us into killing them. In the very rare times we were pressured to "get us in", at previous jobs, the guys I flew with made it clear we wouldn't get them to accident sight on time. Diverting was always an option, period.

We always remind them, without saying a word, why they own their own jet and what an asset we are to the family and company. Some owners get it others don't. It is a good thing when you work for someone who does.
What makes a good corporate pilot?

I believe the following constitute:
  • 5 handicapp
  • Loves Mexican Food
  • Drivers License (for the crew car)
  • extreme forgetfulness
The last one there was nothing more than the ability to forget what they saw while out on the road (inside and outside the cockpit).

What says thee...... T.C.
How about the ability to say "NO" when it just needs to be said. That goes for Part 91 and 135 Charter.

Some times that word can be cause a lot of confontation, both with the PAX and home base (charter dept, flight dept, Chief Pilot). That's one of the most important things to me, especially when you don't have a FAA certified dispatcher "helping" you make decisions like in 121.

You must have exceptionally low self-esteem and be willing to be crapped upon at every opportunity by whatever member of the 'lucky-sperm-club' happens to be riding on "your" plane that day...

Or, you can just look past all that stuff and realize the joke's on them--they are paying you to engage in your hobby and the whining is just a facade to throw them off guard. :D TC
A dedication to Safety above all else; efficiency and attention to detail; positive attitude; self-confidence in ones flying and decision making abilities; knowledge and acceptance of ones limitations and that of the aircraft; a backbone; an air of authority without arrogance; good communications skills with other crewmembers and passengers. In other words, a professional who inspires confidence.

And no pickin' and flickin'!

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