As well as being CEO of PrivateFly, I also fly the Citation XLS. The role of the private jet pilot is often glamorised, but it is much more than just flying the plane.
Here’s 24 hours with me on the road (and in the sky) to give you a snapshop of a day in the life of a private jet pilot.
As well as running PrivateFly, I enjoy getting out of the office and flying when I can.
My previous career as a RAF pilot has given me a love of flying, and also helps me keep the PrivateFly team in military order!
Today, for my first flight I’m flying the private owner of the aircraft from Luton Airport to Cannes.
05:00 hrs Leave my house in St Albans in a taxi for Luton Airport.
05:25 hrs Arrive at RSS Jet Centre, one of three private jet terminals at Luton.
05:40 hrs Quick briefing with First Officer, decide on tasks required prior to departure.
06:00 hrs in position at entrance of FBO waiting to welcome my passengers as they arrive.
06:25 hrs The family arrives and I escort them into RSS, through security to the waiting aircraft. They have quite a few bags and golf clubs, but the Citation XLS has a spacious hold, so there’s room to spare.
06:35 hrs Engines start, and we taxi to the runway in a low-cost sandwich with EasyJet in front and Ryanair behind.
06:40 hrs We depart Luton on time, thankfully no French Air Traffic slot delays today!
07:00 hrs After rapid climb to 40,000ft, when the aircraft is in the cruise, I give control to the first officer and I pop down the back for a quick chat with the aircraft owner. This is all part of the job that many Captain’s enjoy as there are no locked flight deck doors on a private jet.
10:15 hrs We’re joined by our flight attendant, as the next set of passengers have requested this extra crew member. After a quick refuel, we depart Cannes, on a positioning flight to Olbia, also known as an empty leg (when there are no passengers on the flight).
10:35 hrs We arrive in Olbia and prepare the aircraft for the next flight, which is a charter flight.
11:30 hrs The aircraft is fully ready for departure (minus the passengers!) with fuel on board, flight plans filed, aircraft flight deck programmed, cabin meticulously clean. The catering has been delivered to FBO and placed in the fridge.
12:00 hrs Myself and the crew grab a quick bite of lunch in a nearby cafe, which is popular with other pilots and flight crew.
13:00 hrs I’m waiting for the passengers at the front of FBO at Olbia airport which is Eccelsa Aviation.
13:30 hrs The passengers arrive, a group of family and friends who are going to Marrakesh for a short break. I welcome them and escort them through the FBO to the waiting aircraft.
13:45 hrs A swift departure from Olbia, the family are served lunch and drinks by the flight attendant.
15:25 hrs We land in Marrakesh and I wish the group an enjoyable weekend as they leave in their waiting car.
16:00 hrs No more flying today, so we put the aircraft to bed.
17:00 hrs We check into our hotel which is very close to the airport. I catch up on some emails and Skype my kids to say hi back in the UK.
19:00 hrs One of the great things I enjoy about being a pilot is random nights in different places. Private jets often use smaller airports, so you get to see a lot more locations than the average airline pilot. I make sure we escape the airport hotel and head into the Medina, in Marrakesh’s old town. It’s true that the captain and first officer do not eat the same food, so we negotiate on the couscous that we both like the look of!
05:30 hrs The aircraft is prepared and ready for the next trip which despite being a Saturday, is a business trip, for some property developers looking at a hotel project in Malta.
06:30 hrs The passengers arrive at Marrakesh. They are running a little late and looking for a very swift departure. On the whole, corporate passengers tend to fly at more anti-social hours than leisure flyers, often taking in several meetings in one day for maximum efficiency. So expect early starts if you’re looking to be a private jet pilot!
06:45 hrs No hold-ups when we depart Marrakesh, and we should get them to Malta on time for their meeting at 11:00 hrs. When we’re in the cruise, I serve them breakfast and strong coffee (there’s no flight attendant on this flight, so I am also taking on butler duties).
10:40 hrs We land in Malta, and the passengers head straight for their meeting in Valletta.
11:00 hrs I handover to another crew after a weekend of fun flying. But no private jet home for me, it’s back to Luton by EasyJet.
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