I am an FO in a Citation XLS based on the west coast of the USA. I am 23 years old and have about 3300 hours.
My background before getting going corporate was flying turboprops and other smaller airplanes overseas and in the Far North doing contract flying and ferrying aircraft. I have only been flying in the corporate world for short amount of time but so far I really enjoy it. The company requires 2500 hours for any new applicant and any unique flying experience is highly desired. The life of a corporate pilot is a life of constant change. One day you are flying 30 minute legs hopping up and down the coast and the next day you are flying to the east coast.
We fly every kind of person you can imagine from CEOs to movie stars and politicians. Some passengers are very nice and some are pretty nasty, it seems to be about a 50/50. Every once in awhile when we are lucky we get a pretty nice tip! My schedule is not so bad but some corporate pilots are not as lucky. I normally fly anywhere from 35-75 hours in a month depending on how busy it is.
Sometimes I will go out on a 10 days trip jumping all over North America and other times I am gone for just the day and back home again at night. Occasionally when we fly places we sit for the entire time the client is at the destination. That can be really nice when we are in Aspen, Cabo, or Seattle but it isn’t so nice when we get stuck in the middle of nowhere. However with the right amount of creativity and when you are flying with the right person there is always trouble to get into/fun to be had.
The flying itself can be interesting especially going into a lot of the smaller strips in Idaho, Colorado, and Montana but like most jet jobs involves long periods of sitting staring out the window with the autopilot on. I can’t really think of any other job that pays this well to stare out a window for extended periods of time so I am very happy.
Here are a few suggestions for anyone that is interested in becoming a corporate pilot or any kind of pilot at all. I am still very young and new to the entire career but I have had the time of my life and countless adventures so far so here is what I think is important:
1.) Stay positive. At the best company in the world I promise there are several pilots that complain constantly… I think many people in the world are just unhappy with life in general so don’t let that get to you. Make it a challenge to enjoy where you are no matter how negative anyone you work with is. If you really don’t like your job find a new one!
2.) Network Network Network. Especially in the corporate world. Networking from the day you start flying and developing relationships with people that may be able to give you an opportunity in the future is very important. Every job I have had in aviation so far has been connected to someone I had been networking with.
3.) Go do some A-Typical Flying! So many people these days are in such a rush to get right into a big shiny jet and press buttons for the rest of their life. I spent a few years flying crappy airplanes with no automation into dirt airstrips in all sorts of nasty weather in all sorts of nasty countries and I promise you those few short years are the ones I will remember the rest of my life as the best flying of my career. If you are willing to leave your comfort zone there are jobs all over the world flying in crazy places. I can’t promise you it will be safe and I guarantee you it will not be easy but if you live through it, it will be worth it!
4) Use PCC to prepare for interviews because it really does work! I recently completed the PCC Prep for a major international airline interview that I was successful in. There is no such thing as over preparing and PCC does an excellent job in helping you prepare for any major aviation interview.
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