On todays Episode of the Gouge Podcast, we are joined by Rowan Hickey from Redwing Aviation (owned by Vista Global) to chat all things about corporate Aviation and how to become a corporate pilot. Rowan and I discuss his aviation career, and what led him to become a corporate pilot and his subsequent involvement with the company Redwing Aviation, Vista Global, and their global recruitment campaign featuring the Australian pilot market.
Corporate Pilots With Rowan Hickey from Redwing Aviation
Ken:[00:00:00] Welcome to the Gouge Podcast by Pro Aviation Tips, where we share the best gouge straight from the aviation professionals to help you become a better pilot. Remember though, live by the gouge, die by the gouge. Don’t attempt anything we talk about here without appropriate or, and dual instruction from a qualified flying instructor.
With that being said, share the gouge.
On board today is Rowan Hickey, a corporate pilot and employee of Redwing Aviation. We’re gonna have a chat today about his career as a corporate pilot and his involvement with the company, Redwing Aviation, Vista Global, and their global recruitment campaign featuring the Australian pilot market. Roan, Gday could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and how your careers.
Rowan: Absolutely. , thank you very much for this opportunity. So I’m originally from New [00:01:00] Zealand South Island. But I grew up in South Africa. And basically I got married to a a lovely American girl and I moved to America. And that’s where I am now. I’m sort of progressing my career as a New Zealander in the American market.
For me personally, I love hiking love a good barbecue or Bri um, and, enjoy a good work life balance. So for me, America’s really good because it really does provide those things. It’s like many countries in one, you can be sailing in Florida, Denver skiing. So it really does satisfy a lot of things that I enjoy.
The other part of the question, how did I become a corporate pilot? That’s really just a path, that I took from you know, the traditional path, of course, for anybody coming into the corporate game as they. Their li their basic licenses into a flying club, Get enough time to make themselves eligible to , join a company, and then move into the area that they really want to go in.
You either want to go towards a more commercial flying, like the airlines or go into the. I mean for me the pathway was from [00:02:00] being an instructor in New Zealand going into the regional turbo props. And from there I saw a job one day for a job in Scotland and a way I went on an adventure to become a direct entry captain for Ireland Airways.
From there I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go into corporate and fly. Jets in Europe. So for me, that’s really been the pathway there. 2008 of course was a terrible year for everyone, and I found myself without any work in Europe. And then I went to a 1 21 world working out of Hong Kong and with the Cathay group.
Spent five years there to realize that after only flying five days and five years the rest of it being not flying, this really wasn’t for me. So it was a pretty easy. For me to return back to the corporate world with that personal touch. The satisfaction you get flying with people who really do enjoy the whole corporate experience that we provide.
Ken: It sounds
like a pretty interesting career at Rowan. I started out, I guess in general aviation as well. But I’ve never flown in the airlines or anything like that, so that sounds like a pretty interesting challenge. And switching from [00:03:00] airlines into corporate or private jet.
Charter sounds like a pretty interesting switch as well. So for potential pilots out there. How does someone become a corporate or a private jet pilot? If there’s students listening or, potentially instructors or even airline pilots, the flying what are some things they can do to steer their career towards job in corporate charter?
Rowan: They can give me a call . And that’s really where we are. If you are someone that is a you know very much about working with other people and being a team member and you appreciate the value that people bring, right? Then this is the place that you want to be.
If I was still looking it conversely to like a 1 21 where, you know passengers are almost like self loaded cargo at times. That’s the environment it is. It’s really just about are you the person that would like to go and be involved directly with the passengers?
Do you value service? Do you value what you can provide to other people? And if you have those basic things, yes you can have a qualification 1500 hours under your belt. But those [00:04:00] are really the things that should be considered if you’re gonna get into the corporate.
Ken: Okay, and could I just touch on the 1 21 versus 1 41 flight operations for those who aren’t offa with the American regulations?
Rowan: So 1 21 versus 1 35
So really there’s quite a few differences. If we were to look at the lifestyle of someone that was in the 1 21 World when they start, they go into a regional they will find that their schedule.
Mixed and varied. So they might have three days on, two days off, four days on, two days off. And it will change constantly like this according to the operational needs. Also if you’re not lucky enough to be flying out of your domicile for a say, if we’re starting at a regional level then you will have to commute , to that position.
And so to do that’s usually a personal responsibility. It’s not a company one. So then you can start to see that this impacts your days. Uh, When you’re going into that, where conversely, if you were looking at the Part 1 35 world, the corporate aviation [00:05:00] market there’s a lot more stability to be provided.
We give, 15 days on, 13 days off. And so there’s a longer period of time that you’re off. You live where you want, we give home basin and so we commercial you positive space from your home base to the aircraft on your first day of work. So it’s part of your schedule. So you can see straight away there’s quite a difference in the quality of life that’s provided there.
Also, the stability of the schedule 15, on, 13 off. We project that a year in advance. You can effectively make plans for Christmas time based on your schedule in January. That’s not there when you’re in a junior capacity joining a airline or a regional environment, you don’t get that advantage.
So there’s a couple of differences hours wise. It’s pretty similar. They are both regulated with pretty clear duty for overall duty and flight times. So for us, a maximum flight time we would do is 10 hours flight time in any 24 hour period and 14 hours [00:06:00] duty within any, day as well.
Minimum rest would be 10 hours. And if we were to look at our operation, uh, we fly on average about four hours a. On a 15 day schedule, you will get a day off somewhere in the middle as part of your rest period or part of our rest strategy I should say. That’s not a regulatory thing.
That’s what we provide for the crew as well. So that’s duty lifestyle. There’s a couple of differences there.
Ken: That’s sounding pretty good. I was military transport and I’m gonna say we, could not predict our leave calendar that far in advance. And just listening to the crew duty it sounds like a lot better of a work life balance as well.
God, . It’s been 12 months since I’ve flown. But yeah I’m remembering the flights being a lot longer and maybe the duty periods being a bit less sorry, the rest periods being a bit less on the squadron, but hey that’s a difference between military and civilian flying.
Okay, So , that leads me into my next question.
So my next question on was, Could you tell us a little bit more about Red [00:07:00] Wing Aviation specifically, and then how does that fit into the Vista Global Group?
Rowan: Sure, Redwing Aviation up to two years ago was a one of top 10 buy hours corporate operator for the Lightship market. Vista saw the potential right, of this very well structured family business that had some very unique properties, right? Where part 1 35 organization that has our own training department, our own level D simulator.
You can imagine that’s a massive investment. Our. Part 1 45 maintenance. Facility. And so with that, they asked if we would partner with them that relationship grew into acquisition. So Vista bought us to become the light jet offering of the Vista Global Group in the us. So today, we’re the fastest growing light chick operator in America, in North America.
Where are we? About 29 aircraft now. Where are we gonna be in 18 months time? We’re looking at 60. . So, we are, We are becoming a bigger part of the Vista Group supplying the light jet market.
Ken:[00:08:00] Wow. And so Vista is presumably able to finance a lot of this jet acquisition. That’s a big fleet. 60 aircraft is a very impressive fleet.
Rowan: It sounds impressive, and yes it is. Market feasibility was around about 80 aircraft, so believe it or not, that’s reasonably conservative. We are in a marketplace of well over 10,000 aircraft in the Part 1 35 market. So that gives you some idea of context of how big the marketplace is.
And also we’re the Vista Group is around about 350 aircraft plus. It gives you an idea of the context of the group that people would be joining when they come to the vista.
Ken: Wow. Red Wing has, if I’m correct, citations. So what other kind of aircraft are in the Vista Group and what kind of aircraft do Red Wing Fly?
Rowan: Sure. So Red Wing operates Cessna aircraft. That’s the manufacturer we use. We have the Citation Ultras, 19 of them. The Excels, we have 10 of those aircraft. And so these aircraft are all completely refurbished and they all have the exo brand on them. So we help [00:09:00] manage the Exo brand for the Vista Group.
What does the rest of the vista fleet look like? It’s very extensive, right from a lot of Bombardia products on the Vista Jet side from the Challenger 300. Up to the global 7,500, which we have we manage or we operate 10% of the world fleet. And with that sort of aircraft, it’s capable of flying 17 hours nonstop.
So you’ve got a huge range of aircraft and ability that makes us a global operator. In 2020, we flew collectively as a group over 120,000. So, It gives you an idea on other acquisitions with their Hamburg and our other partner Jet Edge they go into other products including the Gulf Stream products in large cabin on that.
Ken: So it’s a pretty serious operation. And I’ll just point out as well, so for people in America that are listening AMSA is One of the Australian government departments. That contracted for search and rescue. So say someone sailing a yacht down in Antarctica has an emergency and , needs help, they’ll set off their SAR bacon and AMSA [00:10:00] has contracted Global Express jets because there’s some of the aircraft with the only range that can actually go out and find.
Some of these mariners in distress. So those are some really impressive aircraft, and we’re saying they’re gonna be contracting global expressers to do that rather than sending something like a PA or a Herc. So that’s a pretty impressive aircraft. And so to be operating 10% of the world’s fleet it’s probably a bit bigger of a company than I actually realized when I was doing my reading beforehand.
So Rowan, you’ve obviously got a huge amount of aircraft so Red Wing and Exo is primarily based in the us Vista I saw was in the uae. So , what does the rest of Silicon global operations look like? I If you’re flying with a 17 hour reach, that really is a global operation, isn’t it?
Rowan: Yeah, and I think if we’re gonna put context to that, we need to look at the brand.
So we’ve got the vista. Jet Brand and that is very much the high end, luxury end of the market. You’re supplying the 1% of the 1% a luxury experience anytime, anywhere around the world. So that [00:11:00] product you’ll see and, well over 180 countries. For last year, for example. And that encompasses these larger cabins.
And then of course, right down to the challenge of 300 s. The exo brand is what’s operating right now in the us and Red Wing is managing the exo brand, much larger customer base. Basically the paradigm shift of. A customer that did fly business class now realizes the value the charter market will give.
But we’re also have a a presence in Europe now. So the XO brand is being operated on XLS and Challenger 6 0 5 aircraft in Europe and soon into the Middle East. So we really have two international brands that operate in different parts of the market.
Ken: And so unpacking more about the Exo brand, cuz we were chatting about this offline, but would you be able to talk us a little bit about the technology and the user experience using the EXO corporate system?
Rowan: Sure. So [00:12:00] basically it’s a market disruptor. The EXO app is a digital marketplace that’s online and it’s accessible through an application that you can download. Anybody can use the app and it supplies a variety of travel experiences. The spectrum can be from. Buying one seat on the aircraft to half, the cabin or a full cabin option.
So that allows a lot of flexibility for people who want to travel in something that is a point to point and provides a much, much better customer experience. And also there’s a price point for it. When you go and you use the application, the XO application the price that you that you accept there is the price that you pay.
So you have instant pricing, which again puts us in a very good position for supplying something that to exactly what people want at the time.
Ken: I guess it’s like the Uber of private jets .
Rowan: It is. With Exo, we guarantee you an aircraft will be there waiting for you at a time of your choice.
That can be an on fleet or an off fleet option. So we of course are managing with Exo Jet, our other [00:13:00] partner company the on fleet present. And then you have the off fleet. We have 2100 approved vendors or other operators that help us support the demand that the Exo brand has at the
Ken: Ah, it’s really
cool. From a pilot’s perspective and I realized as well you don’t just hire pilots. You hire, pilots, engineers, maintainers, and other aviation professionals with the training institution that you run. But specifically, what kind of people, what kind of pilots and aviation professionals are you looking for?
Rowan: We’re looking for people who are pretty much customer service centric. So if we look at the core competencies of people that are successful when they come to Redwing Aviation they are really self starters. They are people that have a high level of integrity. We’re asking crew to go out and manage the Exo brand remotely.
And so you have to be the people that do the right thing with no one else is looking. People that have a positive attitude People that are contributors. We are a growing and developing company. And so people [00:14:00] that are successful here recognize that and come along and grow and develop with the company as well.
It’s really those things tied together with being a good team member that are successful and we’re looking for within our.
Ken: That, makes sense. And with such a large company and obviously relations between not just, Red Wing and, the Exo Jet brand, but also Vista, there seems to be , there’s a lot of complexity in the fleet, a lot of different aircraft.
So a lot of opportunity for career progression within the company and laterally between the companies aswell.
Rowan: Oh, absolutely.
Yes, it seems complex, but then the career path is very simple. You spend three years with the Red W Group, and then that enables you based on your performance to go and develop your career in a different part of the organization.
Is it going to xo, Jet and joining perhaps the Vista Jet brand on a global, or is it going to a managed aircraft with Jet edge And flying a Gulf Stream, these are the opportunities , that we can provide and that [00:15:00] flow through program is already activated.
Ken: That’s pretty impressive.
So it’s almost the crawl, walk, run, start off with your domestic flying in the states and then have your career doing that, which sounds bloody awesome. Like you were just describing, the lifestyle in America was pretty lovely. And then potentially end up Yeah, flying the 1% of the 1%.
On luxury jets around the world. sounds like a pretty cool career .
Rowan: It is. And I mean, to just put in context,, what are we doing when we fly? It’s yes, the majority of the flying Ken is in the United States. You can be flying in Denver and then, having dinner down in New Orleans, right?
There’s a lot of variety going on there, but we’re also. Have an international context to us. , our operating region includes the Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico as well. So even at a smaller aircraft level, an aircraft like the Ultra or XL that flies three to four hours , you’re going be experiencing international.
Ken: It’s pretty exciting. I’m a ex trash hauler I’m used to flying long hours, very slow, but very long ranges. I think some of the biggest flights we’ve done is, we’re talking [00:16:00] 3000 plus nautical miles on a tank, which is cool. But it’s a long time to be sitting on your bum.
So I haven’t got any experience with these light jets other than to know that. Often seen them overtaking me. And I’m just having to look on the site here, like the citation Excel, it’s, nearly 1800 nautical mile range. And you’re saying they’re doing that in a couple of hours? That’s pretty impress.
Rowan: That’s probably a four hour range for us. So that’s really probably the limit of this aircraft. Look, it’s, these aircraft are perfectly suited to the US market. We can go to a major airport. We can provide a connection from international, take them to a smaller airport. And that three to four hour time is really , the flight time to get you to that.
So we really do provide an extension of people coming in from international, an absolute reality that a Vista aircraft will arrive into the states to be greeted and welcomed by an exo branded aircraft. And then taken to your final destination that happens.
Ken: So when i was looking potentially at airlines. I was pretty intimidated by some of the entry [00:17:00] requirements. And I know some of the airlines in America are starting to relax the standards, regarding four year tertiary degrees and that kind of stuff. But even, , in America in Europe in Australia, Some of them were pretty brutal.
They wanted, thousands and thousands of hours and, jet pick time. Many wanted degrees. So specifically with Red Wing aviation, what are the entry requirements in terms of, do you require a degree? Do you require a certain amount of experience?
Rowan: We basically use an experience based formula when people are coming into Red Wing let’s remember that if you come into Red Wing, it’s the conduit to the rest of the organization.
And along the way you’ll provided with a lot of training, like customer service very brand specific things that you’ll learn along your journey. But to answer your question directly minimum flight time. For first offices is a thousand hours, and for captains it’s 3000 hours total time.
Ken: Okay. And so do you have requirements for time on type or is that all covered in on conversion
When you join?
Rowan: Yeah that’s a good question. No time on type is not required. We provide [00:18:00] a full P IIC type rating whether you come in as a direct entry captain. Or a first officer.
So , you get the same level of training for that. We put you through a full part, 1 35 initial type rating course. And then additional to that, when you go online it’s very structured. You’ll go onto a life line training under supervision with line training captain, and you’ll do a minimum of 25 sector.
And which then finishes with you completing a standards check and then you’re released to line. So yes, you might not have the experience, but we are gonna provide that. Are you coming from overseas? And I’m familiar with the environment. We absolutely know that it’s bespoke. We train to that and that’s what you get when you come with.
Ken: That’s pretty cool. Okay. And , I want to touch on some of the training in just a moment, but before get over to that and I, we’ve of spoken about this earlier, but I just wanted to be absolutely clear. For prospective pilots that are wanting to sell themselves, to the Vista Group and specifically Red Wing Aviation, what are you looking for that makes a candidate stand out?
So what can they [00:19:00] do to really grab your attention?
Rowan: I guess if we if we were to look at that and who’s successful when they come in, we look at a good standard or a good baseline with the technical knowledge, Ken. That’s just very important. We want people who have applied themselves and have good technical knowledge about aviation and general.
That provides us with information that yes, they understand aircraft performance. They’ve looked at winter operations before they, come over. And so that indicates to us that they’re a professional aviator. We then we move on and we look at good decision making skills, right?
So these. Very important parts of being successful in the environment we’re working because again, you are managing a lot of things on your own. In an airline environment that’s a lot more structured, you go to less places. There’s less decision making made in the context of charter compared to charter.
We provide a couple of scenarios which we’ll talk over during, say, an interview. Perhaps it’s going to be there’s a technical problem with the aircraft and we’re airborn. What does that decision making tree look like? How do we arrive [00:20:00] at a place where we have a , safe outcome options are done, risk management ending with the safe outcome.
So those are some of the things we look at there. We’re looking at people that have good inter personal skills, get on well with others. Customer needs, understanding customer needs is absolutely huge for us. Ken, if you understand, you know what a family needs when they come and fly with us, two dogs and a cat, and they come on board, right?
Oh, they’re gonna need more bags inside. Perhaps they’re gonna need some formula heated up before departure. It’s understanding these. And showing us that, then we really know that an applicant has the core competencies that are gonna make them successful here.
Ken: So for those that are wanting to get into it and become a corporate pilot, but maybe they aren’t quite there yet in terms of the technology or their qualifications or experience what can prospective corporate pilots be doing to advance their careers into this area to meet those standards?
Rowan: Of course, you can understand the environments that you’re gonna be working in. That’s a pretty important one. [00:21:00] You have considerable differences, say from flying in Australia to somewhere overseas. Again, I refer back to something like winter operations, understanding that deicing that sort of thing gives you a head start.
Get that good baseline sorted. Our accumulation. Is not really going to be key for us. And that’s why our minimums are so low because we have such an extensive training program. So I think, with the minimum hours you’re already to springboard into an operation as long as the training is is going to support.
So I think that’s key as well. Understand the company you’re gonna go to, do your research. I think , when you’re going to go into a corporate environment it’s very bespoke, understanding the brand, what they’re providing, what the marketplace is and making sure that these are a fit to this type of organization that you wanna be part of.
Ken: Oh gee, I’m getting flashbacks to winterization and holdover period charts and everything. I had a bit of a trial by fire with winter ops, when I first went to Afghanistan Rowan I thought it was a desert country. And then [00:22:00] soon I found myself in a snowstorm. And I was very glad to be part of an experience crew cuz it was my first experience dealing with snow
Yeah. So I could say to any pilots listening, definitely look into winter operations because it is a whole new cattle of fish when you’re operating below zero or whatever your Americans call it in Fahrenheit . So the last question I wanted to ask Ronan, regarding the Vista Global and the Red Wing group was what is the actual process for the overseas basing?
Obviously this podcast will primarily go out to, , an American and an Australian audience. So I’m gonna use this example. How do American pilots work in Australia and how. Australian pilots work in America. Specifically regarding things like visas and faa versus CASA requirements.
Rowan: I’m not really a subject expert on how um, American pilots would come over and transition into the Australian market. But what I can talk about is Australians transitioning into the American market [00:23:00] itself, because that’s part of our global recruitment program, right?
We are hiring people and we are supporting them by providing them with visa. For New Zealanders and South Africans, which are part of our global recruitment it’s an oh one program for our Australians. It’s the E three VISA program that enables us to provide an opportunity to work in America in the Vista Group.
So that’s where we go with that visa process. We’ve successfully repeated many times. Now. We have a a quite a large contingent of Australians that are part of our family over here at Redwing. So we are successfully managing that. Basins in the US we operate on a home base format.
That means if you want to you have an airport that’s within an hour of where you’re living, and it has enough frequency of flying from recognized regional or major airlines.. Then that’s your base, then we will approve it on that basis. Then we know we can move you in and out to the aircraft because we operate on a floating fleet principle.
The [00:24:00] aircraft at Red Wing never come home to roost. They’re always in perpetual motion, optimizing and reducing the amount of repositioning of the aircraft. That’s where we go with that, with the Australian market. There are some others considerations. The prevailing wage of each area has to be considered and has to match what the wages or the salary that you’re being provided.
So there’s a another additional consideration. Where are Australians going all over the place? We have people based in LA. . We have people based in in Fort Lauderdale. We have people in Chicago. So there is no shortage of places that you can find yourself being based in America.
Ken: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting.
So we talked about, just earlier about the hour requirements. , but in terms of the licensing requirements so in Australia obviously there’s the commercial pilot’s license which you require to be paid to fly. And most charter op, small charter operations 5.7 tons.
You can operate as picked with a cpl. But for the heavier aircraft, the, the [00:25:00] 5,700 kilo plus, the twin aircraft ir, sorry, twin pilot ir they’re requiring the ATPL for the R PT operations. So , how does Red Wing Aviation fit? Do you require just a commercial license or are captains required to have an ATPL equivalent? .
Rowan: Yeah, it’s a really good question, Ken. The part 1 35 World A P C must have an ATP or what we would call an Australia and New Zealand an ATPL. It’s an atp in the state. So you must have that. So for any prospective person coming over that was going to go straight into a captain position, we would need them to have all the requirements.
For an atp, which are basically the iCare requirements of 1500 hours,, et cetera. There’s no changes there. So you could come over with a commercial with a hundred hours night and we will put you through a training program where you would do a CTP ATP course, which basically is like a MCC or multicrew coordination course.
. Once that’s completed, you finish a [00:26:00] atp exam. With that completed, we then organize you to get a temporary m and certificate based on your on a license verification of your Australian license, whether it be ATP or an at pl or a cpl. And that will then enable you to go into training on your initial type rating when you go through your initial type rating.
We will finish that with an ATP check ride. And this whole process will take around about eight weeks. You arrive in the country, as soon as you start indoc, you’re fully paid with per diem. You run through this whole process, and then you come out the other end with an FAA ATP license.
Ken: So that’s a pretty good deal.
So you’re pretty much providing everything that’s required for potential applicants.
Rowan: Yes. Including Visa support for loved ones that you’ll be bringing over as well? For licensing we do the type rating. And we also support with the visas for family members as well.
Ken: So obviously this is only gonna be for, candidates that meet. They go through the selection [00:27:00] criteria and you’re obviously gonna be quite picky with who you select. And, wanting a quite higher standard candidates to come through because you know that’s not an easy process going through all of those
Rowan: It’s not. And that’s where you’ll see when you go through the interview process that we really do look at, your technical base. Where that is we ask a lot of questions that are are based around problem solving, decision making, because we’re in that unique environment where you need to be able to structure that and come out with a safe outcome every time.
So our screening is pretty good and our success rate is, Really good. Especially coming out of Australia right now. We are in the 90% success rate for people going from initial training all the way through, so it’s been really good.
Ken: Awesome. So Ron, I wanna switch gears now a little bit and just ask a few more personal questions about you and your career, if that’s okay?
Rowan: Sure, man.
Ken: . So the first one I love asking is, , why did you become a pilot?
Rowan: My brother was taking a few flying lessons and he [00:28:00] said to me, Hey, this is pretty good fun. You should give it a go. And at the time I was in a totally different vocation. I was a chef.
I’d been working around the world in some pretty interesting environments and high class establishments. And so then of course you take the first flight, Ken, and you’re probably the same. You get bitten by the bug and it’s all downhill from there, right? I made a decision, it was quite late in life.
I was 30 years of age that I was gonna change careers and and I was going to enter into aviation. So for me I changed from being a chef. I went to university at Massey. In par, North New Zealand. Completed a three year degree major in aviation management. And then , I’ve never looked back.
There is no substitute of flying, you’ll agree?.
Ken: Oh, absolutely. I still remember my first flight. It’s a pretty special day, and the first solo I soloed down in Merimbula in New South Wales, and that was just such a beautiful place. I didn’t realize just how much of an impact that day was gonna have on my life.
And yeah, it really does just shape your whole career the way you think. And aviation , it’s just one [00:29:00] of those awesome areas to work, I think. So we touched on a little bit about your career in the intro, but I’d love to unpack that again. So once you graduated from and got your aviation degree what did your flying career look like and how did you transition into becoming a corporate private jet pilot?
Rowan: I went down the road of becoming a flight instructor and I got my first job in Christchurch at a small place called Bellevue. That was great. It was an absolutely great learning experience being in a very small school, very bespoke. Again, that high level of customer service to get people returning back and being involved.
They were then bought out and they were in acquisition of the CTC aviation, which were an English aviation training group. Who specialized in cadet programs for the likes of Izzy j Thomas Cook and those companies. And I was then transferred up to Auckland where I worked at Ardmore, the busiest GA airport in New Zealand.
And I worked for three years, I think, with the CDC Aviation Group which was an absolutely amazing [00:30:00] experience where they were very customer driven, right, That we would have , eight cadets coming over at a time. And it was all about providing them with the best experience, the best service to then get them onto the next stage.
We would take them from eio through to multi-gen and then they would go to, back to the uk. They would do a multi engine conversion and then go into a simulator a three 20 or a 7 37, which was fantastic for these guys. 230 hours flying right seat in 7 37. So that was a very big eye opener and my first experience of working for a company that was global.
All record keeping and everything was electronic, sent back to the headquarters in the uk. So we had a very interesting experience working globally like that. From there I went to a small operator down in here in Napier where I of cut my teeth on single pilot ifr.
Light freight, which was great. Again, I was very much flying with the customers sitting there beside me in the small aircraft. So it was a very personal job which was very satisfying. From there I went into the [00:31:00] regionals in New Zealand or regional support. I went to a company called the International, and I had a really great experience there.
Flew with amazing pilots. Then this opportunity came to go to Highland Airways in Scotland. And that really changed things because they were very charter orientated. So we supplied a lot of charter flights all around the UKs in Scotland. And I really did like, the way that, that made me feel as a pilot and as someone that contributed to the company.
So from there I jumped into European business jet. Which was a very much a great corporate experience for people flying short haul around Europe. So that, that was amazing. One day you’d be landing in La Castle near Marsai where there’s a race track beside the airport.
Dropping off the rich and famous. So there was a lot of great experiences that came out of that. And then launching into icontinue that, that joy of flying by going into India and joining into an absolutely fledgling market there with no infrastructure, no support in the corporate game there, flying citations.
[00:32:00] So that was a incredible eye open. But again, the experience, right? Because the one thing you’ll have with corporate is every day is different. No matter what day of the week you wake up on something else will happen that will surprise you. Which is a, is an amazing environment to be in.
So that’s really of how I got into the corporate stuff. I was lucky enough to come back to the United States after living in Guam for some years, and to get an opportunity to be a first officer with Vista Jet on the global fleet. And that really was something that changed all the game to enter into a market or into a brand that had such a high level of service and detail and understanding of customer needs.
Really changed my whole perspective. , once you go to that point, Ken it’s very hard to go back to an environment where there’s so much less interaction with the customers and personal satisfaction involved with where you fly.
Ken: That’s a pretty amazing career. And I really, do appreciate that last point.
realizing that I think I was a military. Corporate charter pilot . because that was, you were [00:33:00] summarizing. That was our lifestyle as well. We didn’t really have the, any set route or structures was the same kind of deal. It was get up and, get your tasking order from Amcc and off you go.
And it’s interesting mate, I spent a bit of time going to Guam as well. So as a Kiwi, I’m assuming you might have spent couple of nights in Porky’s bar there.
Ken: Never. Oh,
Rowan: yeah I lived in two Mon Bay for two years I know Guam pretty well. You can drive backwards in four hours, you can go right around the island, right?
Yeah. So that was a pretty interesting environment to be in as well. .
Ken: It’s a beautiful place. The flying around there was awesome. We actually went up a number of times for exercises. Operation Christmas drop was a really great one. We got to do basically multinational engagement, learning to work with Americans the Japanese.
And the Kiwis really good fun doing airdrop around the the Pacific Islands. But yeah, really enjoyed going to places like Guam. So it sounds corporate jet pilot life, you’re out there, new places, new challenges you do really need to use that, lateral thinking and problem solving and, Cause I remember going some places and you just, it might be the first time [00:34:00] you’ve bet you’ve been there and it can be even just, quite a challeng.
Taxi at the end of a flight. And a lot of people, I think sometimes they maybe put that off a bit and they don’t really do enough research on just literally ground operations. And I know some of us have definitely been burnt landing at complex airports and then going, Oh my, how do we actually get to the parking bay?
It is a challenging area of the industry to work in. And I think like it’s good if you never want to have the same day twice. And you always get to use those problem solving skills. So yeah, it’s not for everyone, but it’s a certain kind of person I think really loves it.
Rowan: Sure. Someone that’s a self starter likes to manage their their day to day themselves that’s the people that are successful in this.
Ken: Yeah. So , do you enjoy it? Ron, do you enjoy being a corporate private jet pilot?
Rowan: I do, yeah I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I guess I could say I’m lucky enough to have experienced the 1 21 world to have made that decision. But I can definitely say that the quality of life is a lot different to what you would find in the 1 21 environment. So it’s definitely something that I’ll be [00:35:00] continuing.
If you could give yourself some advice on your flying career. So if you could have a chat to 30 year old Rowan doing his aviation degree what would you say?
Rowan: I would say persistence is key, right? You enter into a marketplace where it’s not easy to see where you’re going to end up, but really just follow your true self.
Find a job that suits your personality and that you can see yourself being happy. Yeah, for me, the 1 21 World was never gonna provide that. I think that’s really all you need to.
Ken: Yeah. That’s awesome. Hey look, thanks so much for your time today. I know it’s a late finish.
Few and an early start for me. That’s just the nature of chatting someone in America. But it’s been awesome to unpack the role of corporate pilots, what the jobs like, and to talk a bit about Redwing Aviation and the Vista Global Group. So first of all, Ron, thanks so much for your time, mate.
It’s been awesome. Just in finishing up, I just say, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Rowan: Not really. It’s just I think for your Australian market, if they just realize that, it’s an opportunity that’s available now, right? The marketplace moves and ebbs, and that this is a great entry point [00:36:00] right now in the aviation time line to get involved.
Also, if any listeners really want to get in touch, get some more information perhaps about what we do or what, more questions about being a corporate pilot than RWA careers at Redwing av dot. Is a really good place to drop us line or a resume uh, or check out our website red wing av.com as well.
That does answer a lot of your questions and it probably a little bit more detail, Ken, that you asked, pilots hours it also provides compensation information and benefits, etcetera. Yeah, I think that really covers everything. Thanks.
Ken: And I’ll be putting links in the show note.
So for anyone who’s listening to this and wants to access all of those links, just head over to pro aviation tips.com. In the article on Red Wing, there’s gonna be basically a link to all of the sites that. Rowan’s just mentioned, as well as the contact email address. So head over there basically jump onto those websites.
They’re gonna be packed full of information that’s gonna help you basically figure out just how to apply for this [00:37:00] position.
Rowan: Fantastic. Can I thank you very much for this opportunity? At any time you want to revisit this or do a day in the life of what we actually do we’re more than welcome to.
Ken: Yeah, actually I’d love to do that mate. It’s a really exciting area. , it’s something I’ve never worked on. So thanks for enlightening me on, what it’s like as a corporate pilot.
It sounds like a really interesting career mate. And I wish you all the best with the rest of your or your flying.
Rowan: Thanks Ken, I appreciate it. And have a good day. See you mate. Cheers.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode that you either learned something new or was able to brush up on some old skills as aviators. The day we stop learning or that we think we know it all is the day we should hand back our wings. Gouge advice, foot stomps the good guts. Look, it’s all a great way to stay sharp, but remember, live by the gouge.
Die by the gouge. Don’t attempt anything we’ve talked about here without appropriate authorization and dual instruction from a qualified flying instructor. With that being said, don’t go jack and share the [00:38:00] gouge.