Oct 14, 2016 – FlightSafety Interview

I was at the beach for a few days, getting ready to begin the annual inspection for N833DF the airport over in Georgetown. Matt will be teaching and supervising me, and I was anxious to get that project going. There are a number of 50 hour airworthiness directives (ADs) that I can accomplish on my own going forward, as well as the oil changes, and it would be good to start with them. Matt will either be standing next to me as I do them, or will come behind me to ensure the work is done professionally.

Friday morning, October 14th; another grueling workday on the golf course. John had invited me down to play a round with Jim at Marsh Island. This course is very near my beach place, Bev was busy doing other things, so I headed down a few days early to get some play time in. Early on the back nine, my phone rang. It was an unknown number, but for some reason I decided to pick it up. It turned out to be a call from FlightSafety’s Wilmington office, and I was completely caught off guard! My scheduling concerns might be taking care of themselves after all.

‘Good morning, this is Al, the assistant Director of Training at FlightSafety’s Wilmington facility’, the caller said. He had seen that I had submitted an application for an SIC position, but was called to see if I was interested in being an instructor instead. What?!? Seriously?!! I told him I was absolutely!  I went on to explain that I was playing golf at the moment, and he offered to defer the conversation. ‘Oh No!’ , I said. ‘I’m not very good at this anyway, and my friends will be happy to drive me around while we have a conversation.‘. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was excited, and my friends knew right away what was going on.

I sat in the golf cart listening to Al describe the job of being an Instructor in the Westwind and Astra jets, while Jim and John played the next two holes. Al asked the usual high level HR and experience questions, and I gave him those answers off the top of my head. He emphasized the expectations and requirements they’d have for me several times, but didn’t say anything that would dissuade me from working there. He tried very hard to ensure I knew that the work would be demanding, and the schedule at times would be changing.

For my part, I tried to make it clear that I was very interested and excited to have heard from them. I felt I could meet any obligation and was eager to learn as much as I could. On that note, Al told me that he’d set up a two-day interview. He promised to forward an itinerary for each day soon after, and let me know that I should prepare to deliver a 30 minute presentation on an aircraft system of my choosing. The audience would be the folks doing the interviewing, along with several other program managers for the various jet programs. Bring it on.

Before we ended the call, I had the foresight to ask about the timing of my starting with them, assuming all went well with the interview process. I was happy to hear that the process would take at least six weeks. That would allow time for me to complete my annual, and take a trip or two in the airplane with my wife. Just a few trips to spend time together before I dive into this project.  I rejoined the golf game and tried unsuccessfully to stay focused on my swing.

That call made my day, but disrupted my dreams of joining the PGA for the rest of the game. Today will be remembered as a pretty good day.

Al called a few days later to schedule the interview for Monday and Tuesday, October 24th and 25th. Monday would have me attending a four hour ground school class to observe the instructor and the manner in which the training was conducted. That would be followed by lunch with a program manager so that I could ask any questions that came to mind. The afternoon would include discussions with the Director of Training and his assistant, so that we could exchange additional information and assess each other.

Tuesday began with a panel interview. There were six or so people in the room as I recall, asking a wide variety of questions. I answered them directly, and enjoyed being brutally honest in my responses. When asked about management aspirations with them, I explained that I was uniquely qualified, but not necessarily interested. For now I’d be focusing on have a good time teaching on the ground and in simulators.  I want to learn the jets, earn the type ratings, and become a technically proficient as I can with the instruction. It was about quality of life for me, and I made it clear that I would give this experience at least two years to evaluate that. We’d smoothly part company after two years if it didn’t work out, but I highly suspected that this would be a long term experience for me.

The presentation was next, and a few more program managers came into the room for the show. I gave my talk on Dash-8 electrical systems over the next 30 minutes, but was running just a little longer than I’d practiced. The Director of Training interrupted me at 30 minutes, just as the cool part was coming up related to contingency operations and failure modes. He told me I’d done well, and that the critique I was promised would not be necessary. I guess he had looked around the room and gotten a tacit approval from the crowd as I was speaking.

The Director asked me to give them a few minutes, and to please go wait in the break area. They’d discuss my interview and presentation among themselves, and then decide if I was to advance to the next step. After just a few minutes, Al came down with the good news. He escorted me to the Benefits Admin, Diane, where the process continued. Diane gave me a high level briefing of what was available to me, and then escorted me back to Al and his boss once more.

They both told me that I’d done very well in the interview process, and they were interested in me if I was interested in them. Excellent. Let’s get this done. The salary offer was acceptable, and was plenty big enough to take care of adding some goodies to my airplane and fuel to it’s tanks. Things were looking good.

Quality of Life: I know that some of you have a low opinion of the quality of life I’ll experience at FlightSafety, and warned me about it ahead of time.  I had heard the same opinions and warnings about working for Piedmont, and I’m sure there is an element of truth to it all. My situation is unique, however, and I have a real need to have this experience directly. I will get in there and make the best of it for at least two years, and may well have a long term advocation that will be fun.

I am going to get to do what I’d set out to do a long time ago.  Learn and teach in jet aircraft – very close to home.

My start date was set for Nov 28, 2016, but fate would intervene once more.  That will not be my start date, and I’ll tell you why shortly.

Fly safe – and try to burn other peoples gas as much as you can.

Frank