In this special AvGeek series, Flight Chic guest writer Rida Khan has candid conversations with pilots who share their passion for flight and what inspired them to pursue a life in the clouds.
To most people the sky is the limit. To those who love flying, the sky is home. Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards. There you find your wings. All you have to do is FLY.
Interview: Captain Jeffrey Alan
He went to aviation college in Toronto where he got all of his licences and ratings, and began his career in Southern California flying cargo.
After returning to Toronto Captain Alan flew Medivac and Corporate turbo-prop flights, and is currently the lead captain on a Citation Sovereign business jet for one of Canada’s largest companies.
Q: Was becoming a pilot your dream? How did your family support and motivate you as you pursued your passion for flight?
Alan: I had no doubt that flying would be my job at age 3. My father owned a small Piper Warrior when I was young and we spent weekends together flying it all over the place. I knew at a young age that I couldn’t imagine life without aviation. My parents supported me financially and motivationally as I progressed. Today they are both very proud and I know that I couldn’t have been this successful without their support.
Q: Tell us about your first flying experience after starting your career as a pilot?
Alan: My first flight as a professional pilot was in July of 2001 and it was a cargo flight from Burbank California (KBUR) to San Diego (KMYF). I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment. I knew right there and then that I had found a career that would make me very happy.
Q: How did you adjust your life schedule being a pilot and having to travel everyday?
Alan: I am not married at this point in life and that has kept me quite free. I have missed occasional important dates with family and friends over the years, but they all understand. The constant travel is very normal. The only thing that is a bit of a nuisance is packing and unpacking my luggage two to four times a week!
Q: How do you feel during times of festivals or family celebrations when you’re on duty and away from family and friends?
Alan: It depends on the event really. Missing family dinners can be upsetting, but missing a wedding or very special occasion is not fun at all. I feel like sometimes the career can get in the way of a “normal” life, but I know that a normal life would not keep me happy like aviation does.
Q: What’s your favourite destination to fly to?
Alan: My favourite place to fly would have to be Los Angeles. Whenever I fly there, it brings back great memories of my early days in aviation. That brings me a lot of happiness. I look back on fond memories that help motivate me for the future.
Q: How you manage collaboration with your copilot, as copilots change from flight to flight?
Alan: In my current job, I have only two other pilots that I fly with regularly. They have become like brothers to me and that makes the job a lot more fun.
Q: Does putting on your Pilot’s uniform make you feel different?
Alan: That’s a great question! I remember the proud feeling I got when I put on my first uniform back in 2001. It was a feeling of accomplishment and I was so proud of myself for getting this far. Everyday that I put on my uniform is like the first time.
Q: Was there ever a point in your life when you were scared to fly an airplane?
Alan: I can’t say that I have been scared in a long time in this job. I think there are times where I get more focused and zoned in..maybe a little more nervous, but never scared. I think that most of us professional pilots have scared ourselves in the past to avoid it in the future. You learn about your limits. You get better at managing risk and not putting yourself and your passengers in those type of positions.
Q: When finally retire from the pilot life, how do you think you will feel and what will you do next?
Alan: I am not really sure that I will ever retire. I hope that I do not have to. In business aviation, you can fly until you cannot posses a medical certificate. I spend a lot of time and effort to eat healthy and exercise daily to stay in good health. It prolongs my aviation career and I feel and look good. If I lose my medical, I’d love to retire somewhere warm and tropical, like Hawaii, and spend my days on the beach and eating great food! [Editor’s Note: Same!]
Q: Do you have any advice for future pilots?
Alan: I think that our future aviators need to learn that there will be great moments of accomplishment and failure along the way. I think that to learn and be a good pilot, you have to have made some mistakes, and learned from them. Like life, it never goes perfectly or as planned. The more effort you put in, the more this career will give back.
After speaking to Captain Jeffrey Alan I can say that for him every day is a journey and the journey itself is his home.
You can follow Captain Jeffrey Alan on Instagram @jeffreythepilot
Guest writer Rida Khan is a foodie blogger with a hunger for a big slice of the skies. A native of Bhopal, India, Khan writes about food and aviation and is working on an airline inflight food research project. She also posts healthy food recipes for pilots and travellers on social media. You can follow Rida Khan on Social Media:
- Twitter : @mohd_ridakhan
- Instagram : @ridakhan_21
- Food Blog : Innovative Dishes On Your Way