Chris McGee

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Capt Chris McGee, Chief Pilot/CEO VVIP private flight operations

CAM Air Management

Around 9000hrs on all types of corporate jets from Learjet and Citations to HS125, CX and Gulfstream 550.

 

I remember being a toddler and sitting in Hyde Park watching the 707 and 747s on LHR arrivals and just knowing that one day I would be flying one of them. As I grew up I read everything I could get my hands on about flying (fact and fiction), attended every air-show possible and worked for aviation related businesses in my summer holidays. I think it was just always in my DNA.

 

The route into aviation was easily defined for me.  I knew my end objective and went about setting up the dominos to reach it in a methodical manner. My first choice was to enter military flying, because of the quality and discipline of the training and operational flying.  At that time it was still prohibited for women, so I pursued the civil route instead.

 

Piper Cherokee 140

Back then there were mainly 2 routes, the ‘self improver’ and the lucky few who were sponsored or had a comfortable background. I had neither! After years of Saturday jobs and begging for Birthday and Christmas ‘donations’ I had saved enough to take my PPL and went back to 3 jobs per day to pay for hours building and further ratings. In a couple of years I had a twin rating and was able to start looking for experience. At that time, being a Pilots’ assistant was an approved option and I found my first professional position with a company operating charter and schedules on light twins from Gatwick. The main difficulty I faced was accumulating the money!

Yugoslavian Soko Galeb G2A ground attack fighter/trainer

Yugoslavian Soko Galeb G2A ground attack fighter/trainer

My first professional job the company gave me tremendous responsibility and their trust made me feel valued. I found it both satisfying and exciting.

 

My advice for pursuing aviation as a career, is to Just go for it. It’s a tough and expensive road, but worth every pound and second you can invest in it. The rewards from experiences you will have, places visited, colleagues’ and passengers you will work with, and the amazing tech toys we are allowed to enjoy give you a lifetime grin the size of the planet!

 

Sometimes it can be challenging to deal with the attitudes and customs of different cultures, time are changing for the better but slowly, a sensitivity to differences is still a must. Our training usually equips us for most operational issues, but no one has yet written a checklist for people. Tolerance, patience and confidence in yourself will assist in this one.

We are in a people industry and we do not operate in isolation. Even solo glider pilots need the tug operators and that farmer’s field. I try to always treat others as I would wish to be treated, a cliché perhaps but it does work. Making contact with all the team at any new base or operation shows you care and immediately humanises you in their eyes. If they know you and the respect is mutual, they are more likely to go out of their way to help-out.

 

Gulfstream G550

Aviation training equips us to deal with all sorts of challenges.  I once drove into the sea, long but true story about no warning signs for a slipway (the locals knew it was there!). As the car was gently sinking into the water, headlights blazing, the radio bubbling ‘sailing by’ I genuinely feel it was my years of being thrown unexpected curve balls by gleeful Sim instructors that helped me not to panic and instead go into ‘work the problem’ mode, just as I had many times before!

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