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What It's Really Like Piloting Private Jets For The Rich And Famous

Flying privately owned aircraft gives pilots a unique lifestyle within the spectrum of aviation jobs. The set of challenges they face can be very different from those of flying airliners. Among the greatest challenges is passenger behavior. In a short period of time, pilots are all but guaranteed to experience some of the wildest interactions and witness some of the craziest behavior of their lives. ( 기타...

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I can remember years ago we used to fly a NBA team to their various games. All million dollar players. They would get on the plane most wearing suits and carrying a gym bag. It was usually a quiet flight...all gentlemen.
After the game they boarded the aircraft with buckets of KFC and six packs of beer. They became rowdy and started to play grab ass with the stewardesses. She would go to the rear of the plane and call the captain to let him know what's going on with the pax. He would tell her to put on her oxygen mask. He would then alter the pressure and oxygen in the cabin...knock them all out then wake them five minutes before landing. Happened many times, win or lose. They never caught on.
I never flew 135, just 91, for a major corp and a couple of wealthy owners over the years. I never had any "problem children", but individual owners can be a bear to work for because they're demanding - especially when it comes to schedule.

One day I was planned for LGA to the owner's home airport in Michigan. Another crew was scheduled to fly the owner to St. Maarten the next day. But when the owner arrived at LGA he said, "It's snowing at home." I said, "Yes sir, it is". He said, "Screw it, let's go to St Maarten now." I replied, "Yes sir. I'll be right back." I hollered to a lineman to top off the fuel, ran inside and filed a bare bones flight plan to SXM and off we went.

We were there four days. Once there, the copilot, flight attendant, and I found a place to stay; then went into town and bought some casual clothes (we didn't wear uniforms, but business attire would have looked silly at the beach). I charged all the crew expenses to my personal AMEX Gold card that had no limit. And If we went somewhere that didn't take the gas cards we carried onboard, I also filled up the (large) jet on my card. The home office immediately paid my bill every month without question, and AMEX thought that I was a real high-roller.

The only real problem with the job was the schedule. One month I was gone on the road for 29 straight days, since the owner had houses in many cities. The pay was good, but I left after a year.
Yes if I was <40 and single I would never have needed to go home and would not have cared about the schedule! But, that ship has sailed.....
After a long airline career I started flying for a family owned business on a small corporate jet, I guess I was lucky to find the right family because it’s been a lot of fun. At 78 years of age I am still doing it and don’t know when it will end. Am in good health and haven’t started drooling yett. I really do believe it’s been good for me to stay active.
bbabis 8
Before every flight I say the pilot’s prayer.

Dear Lord, please let me die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather and not screaming and yelling like his passengers!
Never have had the opportunity to fly private, but my late Mom did many years ago. She worked (as I did @ the time) in a major college D1 Athletic Department & was able to get a ride on a boosters plane that happened to be taking back a well respected former Head Coach. As she was going out to North Texas to visit relatives (they brought her back after a week visiting), she was lucky enough to hitch a ride out on the private jet. Said it was real nice.
I know of someone & acquainted w/a businessman who had a private jet he used for both business & pleasure, jetting all over the US. Having recently retired, he’s since sold it. I thought of him, then & still think so much of him; not once did I dare jeopardize our relationship by asking for a ride. Not even when close relatives passed away in Texas & I couldn’t get there for the services.
Mike Mohle 17
Flew many of them in the 135 world, takes all kinds. It seemed some of the customers who looked like they could not afford even the Greyhound were nicest and tipped the best. Some of the celebs, and especially politicians, were the worst! The most fun was when the customer was a pilot or very interested in airplanes and would come up front during the flight to check out the flight deck and ask us questions.
How much of a tip is considered appropriate? We’re going to start chartering next year and I’d like to get an idea of what’s typical. Thanks
I don't know the answer to that. I haven't received a tip in at least two years. I guess my point is pilots would like to feel appreciated. We make a lot of sacrifices for our passengers and at best most pilots are middle class or broke. We do great work and its sometimes very demanding.

[This poster has been suspended.]

That would be awesome!
I used to be a banker but was never tipped by customers :-)
You are supposed to tip the pilot too?! Americans won't cease to amuse.
Mike Mohle 13
Always a [welcome] surprise, but certainly not expected.
rick SCOTT 12
I am on the 91k/135 side. In my experience, 90% of passengers treat you like a friend and 10% just want to get moving. When the weather, mechanical or ATC delays get in the way they are mad at the situation, not the pilots. If you read your passengers correctly, you can figure their goal. Sometimes part of their journey is having a little chuckle with the pilots and that makes enjoy the trip. 99.9% of the time, they are gracious to be onboard. If they have a deadline like a meeting, reservations or an international flight, you know that their goal is to make use of the speed of flying privately. It’s all knowing how to read your passengers on their expectations. Personally, I would not change a thing in my professional life, I go places that I would never get to see if I was on an airliner.
i have flow for the same family for the last 35 years and 4 different planes they have treated me and my family very well for a long time and treat me with respect , I no a few charter pilots that don't enjoy the same kind of benefits I do
Unfortunately, those kind of employers are few and far between. They deserve the respect that others demand.
Long long ago, I used to hitchhike regularly on business jets. I'd go out to the private terminal at LGA, look for pilots flying alone - usually to pick someone up - and ask for a ride. To anywhere! One way only of course, but they'd often introduce me to another guy going back towards home. It'll tell you how long ago that no one ever questioned my being there and chatting up the pilots. I never told any story, just the truth: I loved planes.

Best trip was to IND in a Lear. I was with my little brother, both of us aviation nuts, and the pilots said they'd show us what the plane could do. Felt like vertical up to FL45.

Another time at JFK, hanging out on the PanAm ramp, two pilots were flying an empty 707 to LHR, some kind of replacement. They said we could go along, and we would've done it until they asked about our passports ... Oh well. I guess they didn't want to explain why they were bringing two minors into the UK.
Ruth Lopez 2
I did that with a friend when we we’re about 19 yrs old. We hitchhiked one way from Puerto Rico with this old pilot who was going to St Thomas (we were “hippies” or wanted to be). We met some guys over there and stayed a whole weekend not thinking about how we would return. I remember us crying with no money at the airport thinking how we were going to get back home, when I saw a plane unloading the only english speaking newspaper from Puerto Rico (The San Juan Star) and I realized that after he unloaded he must return back to P. R. Oh my God he was so nice with us and behave like a gentleman, thank you. That was our only and last hitchhike trip by plane. ;)
' Most turboprops and light jets are certified for operations with a single, appropriately rated pilot, leaving that one pilot responsible for everything'

That's exactly what I feels uncomfortable about. I very much like to see 2 people in the cockpit.
A lot of folks have probably seen this video about a real event. It was a King Air owned by the right seat passenger. The pilot died in flight. The PAX all lived, due to outstanding work and coordination by the ATC controllers.
From the passenger side I have been fortunate to fly in friends and families private jets. ( Once was went I had a stroke far from home and a friend sent his jet to bring me back). Always been a nice experience and the crews have been professional and enjoyable to be around.
Thank you for your nice words. It means a lot to the pilots if the passengers say thanks.
Control is not an illusion! It is the professionalism that builds the trust between those who pay the bills and those whose lives are entrusted to you. They pay for a service that is bound by Rules and Regulations and if you let a passenger tell you what, how and when you are going to fly, then you are not in control? By the way, those spoiled, rich, demanding clients are just people who are not used to getting their own way........just give them an alternative!
having never flown on a private jet to a detination (i have been on a few pipers or cessnas with a family member in my time however),i can only imagine what the experience would be as a passenger,or having to not only be the cockpit crew,but handle a lot of other issues that might arise..i do know how "celebrities" can act with people they feel are there to "serve" them,and that can be a less than pleasant experience!
Nicely written. When I was a kid in the 1960's and 70's my dad was a pilot and I saw the passengers give the pilots $100 and $200 dollar tips. Pilots seldom get tips anymore and quite often the passengers don't say thank you or even look your way. It's just like being the shuttle driver at a major airline hub. You also have to do all the luggage loading, restocking the airplane and sometimes cleaning up a mess in the lavatory. IT's grunt work most days. Oh, sometimes they change the schedule four to eight hour delays and so you are super tired, hungry and dehydrated by the time they finally show up drunk at the airplane.
My brother in law flew private jets for one and left. When I ask him why he told me picture yourself flying a client with personality of Trump!
I guy I flew for knew Trump personally and I often heard my guy talking to Trump on the flight phone. They were both hard-nosed billionaire businessmen, but they employed hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Guess nice guys finish last (for the most part).


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