We are flying in a 2002 model and going to see some new ones with options, all at the manufacturers cost. It does feel funny to be sitting back here instead of the familiar environment of the cockpit, wearing a full shirt, corporate style trousers, feeling like a millions bucks. But, I’ll take it! I did visit the cockpit, chatted with Capt. Errol, who is flying the airplane and talked about India. He thinks India is a growing economy and is surprised at the number of airplanes that Indian companies are buying. I agreed with him, of course. I am a part of that acquisition action at the moment anyway. I look behind me and three guys including Chuck Smith, Doug (from hawker) and my boss in an animated conversation about airplanes.
The boss does not profess to be computer literate, although he has a very sharp mind and can do basic stuff like e-mail. He is a smart operator, excellent with marketing the product and is averaging nearly double the hourly utilization in the World charter market and that’s not shabby either. Nice guy to work with, we take turns calling each other as “boss”, confusing everyone around us as to who is actually the boss. We are more like colleagues but he writes the checks and that’s good! That’s the way it is supposed to work, I fly the plane and he pays the checks, how much more fun can it get? I do lots of other interesting stuff on the side and that’s OK by him and the company and hey, I got nothing to complain.
I did not start this way, though. I have gone through trials and tribulations on and off, getting experience as I went from place to place flying around 22 different types of airplanes of all types, working for peanuts and trying hard not to turn into a monkey. Seems to me that I have indeed arrived, sitting in plush comfort with a bunch of people worth millions sitting around me. At the end of the day, I’d still like to get back to my familiar environment and take the controls.
We are coming up on Norman, Oklahoma as I write. That’s the same place where about 17 years back, I trained and obtained a Flight Instructor license that allowed me to teach people to fly airplanes and get their commercial pilot licenses. That was a fun gig too, didn’t pay much, but fun anyway. My wife always told me that I was a good instructor, probably because I talked so much, constantly. Norman also has the National tornado research center. Anyone who has seen the movie “twister”, this is where the storm chasers are based at and this is in the heart of the tornado belt in the United States.
Boss and me, notice Indian flag flying high in Little Rock, Arkansas
We are turning towards Little Rock now and time to close my computer, we will be descending soon. We are flying back the same afternoon, after enjoying some lunch at their facility and looking at various Aircraft at different levels of completion. We taxi into the Raytheon Hawker facility, a large complex with a private terminal and get off the airplane. There’s some of the top brass waiting to receive us and the best part is that they are flying the Indian flag on their flag pole as a sign of welcome! We have arrived indeed. My Birthday gift came early, a day early actually, I’ll still take it.