It all started because of the hustle the previous three years. Actually, all of my opportunities happened because of the hustle.
Remember the King Air 350 I was flying as a contract co-pilot? If not here’s the Hustle Post.
Well, he knew someone who was the Chief Pilot on a Gulfstream II. I was helping him clean their hangar when I wasn’t flying in anything I could get my hands on. This guy was a simulator intern when he was younger for CAE Simuflite in Dallas. He said this was the best thing I could do for my career
At this point, it was January 2011 and I had 2,300 hours. My connection had a friend at Flight Safety Long Beach and after talking, heard there was an opening for a simulator co-pilot in the Gulfstream V, Gulfstream IV and Citation II. The only problem was I lived in Florida and the job was in California. I didn’t care, it was just a mini speed bump.
Without officially applying for the position, Flight Safety offered me an interview. I flew out Tampa midday with connections in Memphis & Salt Lake City, that was so stupid. I ended up landing in Los Angeles at 1:15 am. I finally made it to the hotel at 2:30 am for a 7:00 am wake up.
I walked into Flight Safety nervous as hell. My future boss was there to greet me and told me to simply relax. Yeah right, this was nerve-racking, if I messed up I didn’t know the next time I would have an opportunity this valuable!
I flew a typical airline interview profile in a King Air 200 sim. Everything went great, I only forgot to put the prop levers forward before landing. The face to face interview was pretty simple. We talked about Jeppesen charts and taxiway markings. They did NOT like my total time, they were afraid I would get a type rating and bail after a few months to fly for another company. See a Gulfstream V type rating, full service listed price is around $75,000. They wanted someone with around 800-1000 hours, not 2,300 hours.
They finally offered me a part-time job at $25 an hour, I was to start Gulfstream V initial training on April 1st, 2011. I was thrilled, but this was a whole new game. At the end of March, my Dad and I hopped into my orange Honda Fit and drove across the country to Long Beach.
Initial Training kicked my ass. I quickly learned that the guys who flew these Gulfstream were the elite in Corporate Aviation. The initial class was around 19 days long and I was paired with a new Captain from the HP corporation. He taught me a ton throughout the ground, sim and even my checkride.
At the end of April, I finally earned my SIC only type rating. Flight Safety had a new policy, you had to give them a full year before they gave you a full type rating. I became the 135 main check pilot. I would spend the next year going through 135 recurrent and initial training followed by FAA observed checkrides. It was easier and smarter to have an internal employee take the observed checkrides then a paying client. I flew with over 75 different clients and around 6 months in I went through Gulfstream IV initial. Then I was bouncing between the Gulfstream IV, V and 450/550 sim. It was a BLAST, but exhausting.
I was also still hustling, just a lot less than before. I would airline back to Florida and pick some trips in the Malibu to the Caribbean then airline back home. My boss called me into his office one day, I was supposed to be doing a recurrent with Google. I was excited to finally fly with these guys. He said he moved me into another slot with another client. I didn’t know who this group was, I just wanted to fly with Google.
I stepped into the Gulfstream V briefing room and a man in his early 60’s was there. He shook my hand and told the instructor what tail number he wanted to use in the simulator. I quickly said, “you’re not with XYZ corporation your with …..”. See I knew their airplanes, this flight department was from my hometown. They were the elite. I didn’t realize he was also their Chief Pilot.
For the next few days, the instructor tried to help me look good. On the last day, I flew from the left seat and we had a dual hydraulic failure with an engine shutdown also. I think it took 20 minutes before we finally landed at the San Francisco airport in the sim. When he left he gave me his business card and told me to let him know when I was in town. He was the only client in my time at Flight Safety who didn’t go out to a meal with me! Normally a bunch of us would pile into the clown car for the taco place down the road.
Yup, within a week I was back in Florida, I convinced the Chief Pilot to come fly with me in the Piper Malibu. Then, I called him every week without fail. He finally caved and let me fly for them as a contract pilot on a trip.
By this point, my one year was coming up at Flight Safety. We tried to schedule my Pilot in Command Type Rating Checkride but my first FAA guy said he wouldn’t give 21-year-old a GV type rating! We finally found a guy who would. Four hours of an oral later and two and a half hours in the sim I finally earned my PIC Type Rating.
A few weeks later I resigned from Flight Safety and became a full time contract pilot. The only problem was I couldn’t leapfrog into a Gulfstream position at this flight department. After 6 months of contracting I was offered a full time position in Michigan. Michigan taught me how to fly in the winter. We don’t get snow in Florida 🙂
It’s been over five years since I started at my flight department, I still love every second flying the King Air 35o and Citation Sovereign. This company gave me more then a job. I met my wife up here too, she’s one of the reasons I started iFLYPLANEZ, she keeps me in the hustle mode and helps me escape average.