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Professional Pilot Path: Corporate Pilot

Hi!  This is my first post here at AOPA's Let's Go Flying blog and I thought I would start with a simple introduction.

Where to start?  Well, my name is Paul and I am a flight instructor and corporate pilot from Dayton, Ohio.  I am 30 years old and started flying when I was 18, which gives me 12 wonderful years of flying professionally.  As my AOPA biography states, I have been very fortunate, in those 12 years, to try on many different pilot "hats" while working in many different fields of the aviation industry. Some may call that job hopping, I call it experience :).

I thought that for the theme of my first few blog posts here I could describe some of those pilot hats.  This might be helpful for those who may be aspiring to learn to fly in order to make a career change.  Or maybe for those who are just curious about what it means to be a "Professional Pilot".

I'll start today with a description of my current occupation: Corporate Pilot.

A good general definition of a corporate pilot is a pilot who works for a business and is responsible for the operation of corporate owned aircraft.  Sometimes pilots who also work for wealthy individuals or pilots who work for large fractional operators will also fall under this umbrella. Most people think corporate pilots only fly jets, which isn't necessarily the case.  I have corporate pilot friends who fly everything from a Cessna 172 to a Boeing 737.

Corporate flight departments have been getting a lot of (bad) press lately and I thought I'd take just a second to clear up a common misunderstanding; corporate flight departments are not toys for executives and are a very serious business.  When companies decide to purchase an airplane it is usually made with the same undertaking as any other large capital purchase.  There are strict requirements on the costs, return-on-investment time limits, and of course, the actual use of the aircraft.

There are a lot of advantages to being a corporate pilot.  One of the things that I enjoy most is getting to know my passengers.  I like knowing the names of my passengers and getting to know them as individuals.  I also enjoy my schedule.  Most corporate pilots usually have a pretty good idea of when they are going to be gone and for how long, which is important when you have a family.   Another plus of being a corporate pilot is the type of airports you fly into.  A lot of the airports served by corporate aircraft are not served by any airline and are situated near smaller towns.  I enjoy the atmosphere of these airports and the history, people and towns near them.

Of course, not every job is perfect and there are some downsides as well.   When companies get bought out by another company, downsize or experience some other downturn in their business, corporate flight departments are usually the first to experience the cut (see recent news about automakers to learn more about that).   Corporate flying can also be rather mundane.  You tend to get up early, fly to a destination, sit all day while passengers are in meetings and then return home when they are through.  If you don't like sitting all day, corporate flying may not be the job for you. (I tend to try and fill the time by blogging about aviation!)

I hope this gives you a brief insight into the life of a corporate pilot and some of the advantages and disadvantages of this particular pro-pilot path.  Learning to fly is literally opening a door to a wide range of possibilities and I hope to share some more of those possibilities with you soon.

5 Responses to “Professional Pilot Path: Corporate Pilot”

  1. I very liked this post. Can I copy it to my site?
    Thank in advance.

    Sincerely, Timur.

  2. hi i am from lebanon.
    I liked this post very much.please i would ask you that how can I be a pilot? I do not have the information."how much does it cost ?
    how many years it takes?
    please help me to be a pilot
    i need your help
    thanks

  3. You're right. Thanks to a few grandstanding politicians, the use of corporate aircraft for legitimate company business has gotten a bad rap.

    If people would take the time to examine the issue they'd find that corporate aircraft provide a very valuable function chief of which is saving time.

    Become A Marine Pilot

  4. Capt S V Kalele Says:
    January 24th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Sir,
    Thanks for your blog.Let me please introduce my self.
    As mentioned my name, as off now I am flying B-737-NG for a domastic airline in India in a capacity as TRE,with 22000=00 Hrs plus experience in my log book at the age of 58 years.Having flowen more than two million pax I am looking for corporate pilots openings.
    Sir,do you think, this approch is is not called for ?

    Appreciteing your reply in advance.

    With Warm Regards.

    Capt.S.V.Kalele.

  5. Hi. I have been looking into a career as a pilot, a corporate pilot to be specific and was wondering if you would be willing to give me some information and maybe a little advice. If you are interested in helping me you can e-mail me at dmp2530@hotmail.com. Thank you!

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