It has been said that we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us

I still remember when I discovered my passion for travel. I was seven years old, and that summer, a difference of opinion arose between my parents. Mom wanted to replace the lawn furniture, and Dad wanted to travel. I was firmly on Dad’s team. I thought we could live with the lawn furniture, and I wanted to travel.

Dad and I somehow won the argument, and I still remember taking that first trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, a few weeks later. As I stood next to the pool in front of the Holiday Inn overlooking Interstate 80, I was hooked. I said to myself, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Passing on the virtues of travel is something I have taken seriously

Life can throw a million distractions at us that can deprioritize personal travel. Given its profound capacity to expand one’s perspective passing its value on is something I have taken seriously.  It dovetails so well with my love for aviation because at its core, the true magic of aviation is all of the places it can take you.

Instilling in my three kids that same passion was something I knew I needed to prioritize, and I was in the fortunate position to make a unique pact with them. For each of their eighth-grade years, I took each of them on six three-to four-week trips covering locations throughout a portion of the world. Those were phenomenal bonding experiences we reflect back on to this day. 

As each one has grown into adulthood, travel is something that will always bring us together and I am excited to watch how they pass it on to the next generation.

I always want to be a force helping people to take a breath, and allow themselves the permission to travel

When life’s agendas, schedules and priorities begin to stack up, it can be challenging to carve out time to make our travel ambitions a reality. However, in the end, all most need is a compelling justification. That was the basis of our creation of the Flexjet Chairman’s Club.

It is an annual destination-based experience for our Flexjet aircraft Owners that for four days, removes them from the daily treadmill. All we ask is they fly to that year’s selected destination using their Flexjet private jet membership, and we take care of everything else from beginning to end completely gratis. These memory-inducing timeouts in locations such as Lake Como Italy and Cap Julca Anguilla have been both personally and professionally fulfilling as they expound on the restorative nature of travel. 

Often, I find myself in a discussion where someone says to me, drawing from your time as a pilot and travel enthusiast, what places around the world left a lasting impression on you?

Recognizing that sharing this knowledge with others may help to inspire their sense of discovery and wanderlust came the idea of compiling these once casual conversational points into a series of guides. While I most enjoy sharing my experiences over a cocktail or meal, developing the FXLUXE Travel Guides for our aircraft Owners allows people to turn every detail shared in those passive conversations into their travel reality.

Share your experiences to better inform theirs

Beautiful design can completely transform an experience

Beautiful design can completely transform an experience, and I have always enjoyed studying design, whether in clothing, architecture or aircraft. So, when it comes to the Flexjet fleet, I work closely with our in-house designers to create a number of themes, just as boutique hotels often do with their rooms. I think it makes Flexjet unique. Each aircraft’s interior design captures interest and speaks to our fanatical attention to detail.

My passions for architecture and aviation converged in 2023 with the opening of the new Flexjet Global Headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Taking an entirely clean-sheet approach to the design, we incorporated a spacious, open aesthetic with sweeping walls of glass that flood the interior with natural light. Located on our main ramp, visiting aircraft can pull right up to the new facility.

My passion for architecture and aviation converged in 2023

Inside, an open concept cultivates cross-collaboration among employees, while tranquil alcoves provide quiet areas for more focused work. Our stunning Global Operations Control Center incorporates the largest seamless LED screen in the U.S. and stadium-style seating. This layout provides our team with situational awareness at a glance and enables multiple employee groups to monitor our global fleet in real time.

I made sure to incorporate some creative elements, as well. The main conference room features a long, glass-top table made from the actual fuselage of a Gulfstream I once piloted, and each conference room is named after an aircraft type I’ve flown during my career. In addition to the Gulfstream room, we also have the Citation, Cheyenne, Aerostar, and Baron conference rooms.

The new facilities incorporate my vision for a “University” approach to training

In 2023, we opened the newest SIMCOM flight training center near Orlando, Florida. A Directional Aviation company, SIMCOM provides cutting-edge simulator training to pilots and maintenance technicians. The new facilities incorporate my vision for a “University” approach to training, where it is provided in a campus environment. Rather than adopting the traditional floor plan of stuffy, windowless classrooms and dark simulator bays, we incorporated walls of modern, geometric windows that create a more open, spacious look and feel. Simulators for various aircraft types are collocated with dedicated, collaborative classrooms to create a center of excellence in training.

My father got me hooked on aviation

Anytime my mother would have to drop him off or pick him up from Cleveland Hopkins Airport for a work trip, I was always the first in the car. The opportunity for just the slightest glimpse of an aircraft excited me.

Later on, he did some work for the Cleveland National Air Show, and it didn’t take long for me to tag along and get involved. I spent my high school years working at the show, soaking up the sights and sounds of the airplanes above. In the following years, we continued to share our love of aviation, but I think he underestimated just how strongly it would inspire me.

I saw my father cry twice in his life: once when his mother died and the second time when his son, with a four-year degree in accounting from the University of Notre Dame and three job offers from the then “Big Eight” accounting firms, told him I was giving it up to become a pilot. But he eventually came around.

When I began flying professionally, I’d find opportunities to bring him along on certain trips, which he enjoyed immensely. I’d also occasionally surprise him with special experiences, like visits to air museums or the time I arranged for him to take a ride in an open-cockpit WWII-era biplane. Our shared passion for aviation brought us together and produced some wonderful father-and-son memories.

It’s fascinating how much more advanced the cockpits of modern single-engine aircraft are compared to the jets I flew years ago

While I did fly some notable aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, such as the supersonic T-38 Talon, and briefly spent some time in the cockpit of a Boeing 727 at a major airline, my flying career was focused on business aviation. After earning my certified flight instructor certificate in 1980, I went on to fly several civilian aircraft, such as the Piper Navajo Chieftain twin, Piper Cheyenne turboprop and a variety of others. I went on to earn my Airline Transport Pilot certificate, eventually earning type ratings in the Cessna Citation 500, Dassault Falcon 20, and Gulfstream II, logging nearly 9,000 hours along the way.

Today, I enjoy sitting in back and focusing my efforts on business and travel. In the meantime, my son Kennedy has earned his own pilot certificates and flies himself around the country, firmly bitten by the aviation bug. We fly together from time to time, and I always find it fascinating how much more advanced the cockpits of modern piston singles are compared to any of the jets I flew early in my career!