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burchfiel
Topic Author
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Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:46 am

Are there some CEOs of airlines who share the same enthusiasm for aviation that we have on Airliners.net, or do most see it purely as a business enterprise? Who in particular could be considered an "aviation buff?"
 
thomasphoto60
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:10 am

Well, while no longer the head of an airline, former head of CO, Gordon Buthune, A/P mechanic (USN), Commercial Pilot (DC-3 757 767), so yeah, at least one head anyway.
"Show me the Braniffs"
 
runningonempty
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:11 am

Neeleman started out in the travel industry and really enjoyed it wheater it be when he chartered flights to Hawaii or at Morris. Not an aviation buff in the sense you're thinking of but yeah he was always intrigued with the industry.
 
ordpark
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:11 am

There may be some out there...not to the extent that exists on this website, I don't believe. Most CEO's these days seem to be 2nd or 3rd generation and are more business oriented than say 20-30 yrs ago.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:43 am

Former AC CEO Robert Milton was an aviation buff from his early childhood years, and presumably still is.
http://airleasecorp.com/alcteam/robert-milton/
 
777ord
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:45 am

I'd be stunned if Bethune was not at least a visitor to this website.

If he's reading this- Please come back! We miss you!!!!!-
 
burchfiel
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:10 am

No surprise then that Gordon Bethune has CO's first 777 named after him.
 
stlgph
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:24 am

Quoting 777ord (Reply 6):
I'd be stunned if Bethune was not at least a visitor to this website.

I know he's poked his head here and there on here and other websites like FlyerTalk. As for whether or not he is an active contributor to any, he wouldn't say, which was smart since he was talking to a bunch of media folk  
if assumptions could fly, airliners.net would be the world's busiest airport
 
BMI727
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:08 am

Quoting Burchfiel (Thread starter):
Are there some CEOs of airlines who share the same enthusiasm for aviation that we have on Airliners.net, or do most see it purely as a business enterprise?

I'd say many of them have to be. Airlines are a tough business and executive pay is relatively low. Many of them could jump ship to make more money elsewhere but don't.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
brilondon
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:17 am

I am certain to some extent they all are or they would not be in the industry they are in. I don't know any personally but I do know a few heads of companies that they would not be in the industry if they at least did not have a passing interest in the companies and what they do. It would just be silly to think that an airline CEO would not enjoy watching and flying on their airline. I have developed a very close relationship with a former airline executive and he loved to just take a few minutes when he was out on the tarmac to just watch the action.
Rush forever Closer To My Heart
 
jetblueguy22
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:52 am

I don't know about airlines, but I know of some aerospace company execs that love aviation. I've talked with the CFO of a UTC company for hours about flying. Even took me up in his plane a couple times  . We flew right over JFK and we were looking all around in amazement at the different planes. Like two kids in a candy store. Funny from a guy who can be as serious as him. He told me a lot of the exec group really like aviation and several fly themselves around. I have to imagine the airline world isn't that different. If I remember correctly Arpey the former CEO at AA is a pilot and loves to fly.
Pat
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
aajfksjubklyn
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:01 am

I know Gerard Arpey was an aviation fanatic. He even flew his own plane.
 
KBJCpilot
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:54 am

I know that Jeff Smisek considers aviation a hobby.   
Samsonite, I was way off!
 
UA444
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:30 am

Quoting KBJCpilot (Reply 12):
I know that Jeff Smisek considers aviation a hobby

LOL. In all seriousness, I think I read his father was an Air Force pilot or something to that degree. Don't know whether he inherited that or not. He certainly didn't get any leadership skills, that's for sure.
 
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Tomassjc
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:49 am

Alaska's CEO Brad Tilden is a private pilot.

Tom in SJC
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward -Leonardo DaVinci
 
hatbutton
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:14 am

Quoting Tomassjc (Reply 14):
Alaska's CEO Brad Tilden is a private pilot.

A lot of Alaska CEOs have been passionate about aviation beyond their day jobs. Brad Tilden and Bill Ayer are both pilots with their own aircraft and Bruce Kennedy was also a pilot. Bruce unfortunately perished in a general aviation accident and I remember reading that his family was at peace because they said he passed away doing what he loved more than anything, flying. Bill Ayer I believe is still on the board of the Museum of Flight in Seattle. So AS has been fortunate to have a number of leaders who care deeply about aviation and the airline industry and likely view their careers as lifelong passions rather than just professions.
 
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airportugal310
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:19 am

Mr Dunkerley of Hawaiian Airlines is a commercially rated pilot - ASEL, AMEL, and instrument rated, of course.

He routinely flies the 1929 Bellanca the company owns (it's first airplane) and he is an avid acrobatic pilot. Not sure which plane that he flies for that, though...

He is extremely knowledgeable about flight operations in general and I find that impressive in a leader.
“They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.”
 
DexSwart
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:06 am

Niki Lauda was definitely an aviation buff.

He even flew some services for Niki and Lauda Air, I believe.
Durban. Melbourne. Denver. Hong Kong.
 
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airportugal310
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:25 am

Quoting DexSwart (Reply 17):

Good call...lots of YouTube videos of him out flying the line!
“They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.”
 
ha763
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:42 am

Quoting airportugal310 (Reply 16):
Not sure which plane that he flies for that, though...

Mark Dunkerley bought a Bücker 131 Jungmann in 2012. He probably also still has his Giles 202.

http://archives.midweek.com/content/...eek_coverstory/the_aviator_ceo/P0/

http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/Hawaii...rk-Dunkerley-of-Hawaiian-Airlines/
 
dirtyfrankd
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:46 am

Gerard Arpey is an avid airplane enthusiast and has his own little plan -- as another poster mentioned. If I'm remembering the CNBC documentary no AA correctly, he even named his daughter Byrd.
 
Upperdeck
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:48 am

Willie Walsh was an Aer Lingus pilot.
 
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Scooter01
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:32 am

Bjørn Kjos, the CEO and majority share-owner of Norwegian Air Shuttle flew F-5s and F-104s for the King of Norway.
His father also had a small aviation company and his son and youngest daughter are both pilots for NAS.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Kjos

I guess that might classify most of the family as aviation buffs.



Scooter01   
There is always a good reason to watch airplanes
 
rwy04lga
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:04 am

Quoting Tomassjc (Reply 14):
Alaska's CEO Brad Tilden is a private pilot.

Isn't everyone in Alaska a pilot? State with the highest percentage, I believe.
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
jumpjets
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:54 am

Willie Walsh of IAG was a pilot for Aer Lingus - captained B737 I believe - before turning to airline management.
 
thegoldenargosy
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:26 pm

TWA's last CEO, Bill Compton was a former TWA pilot
 
flyby519
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:18 pm

Quoting thegoldenargosy (Reply 25):

I think that is pretty impressive. To have flown revenue service at the airline you became CEO of.
 
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sunking737
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:49 pm

The founders of Sun Country all had worked for Braniff #1 when BN shut down May 1982. Their former COO was a 727 Captain. He retired in 2007.
"Don't believe it unless its parked on the ramp, or printed in the schedule...SUBJECT TO CHANGE"

I'm a SUNDUCK......Worked for RC & SY @ MSP
 
txkf2010
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:49 pm

I'd place my bets on Dan Wolf of Cape Air. He regularly flies during the busier summer months.
 
stlgph
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:51 pm

J George Mikelsons who founded American Trans Air (ATA) was a pilot.
With the first plane, he would load it, clean, get the bags, fly it, and then play tour guide.
if assumptions could fly, airliners.net would be the world's busiest airport
 
SVA402
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:10 pm

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 23):
Isn't everyone in Alaska a pilot? State with the highest percentage, I believe.

Alaska's headquarters and management are all in Seattle.
 
frmrCapCadet
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:05 pm

Somewhat analogous, James Hill, of Great Northern Railroad was a rail buff. And as well as wanting to make a lot of money he built a railroad with one of the finest tracks, grades, curves etc. When he and Northern Pacific jointly did the Seattle Spokane Portland it again was an unusually finely done track. These two still form the core trackage of BNSF to the Pacific NW.
Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
 
prebennorholm
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:47 am

Some twenty years ago I met founder and CEO of Air Atlanta Icelandic in his favorite hangar on a small airfield. He was sitting in a sofa in a corner of the hangar enjoying the look of his brand new, shiny Pitts Special acro plane.

He told me: "I brought my big wallet with me to The States to buy a few more second hand 747s, and they handed me the Pitts as change".

Together with friends he restored an old Piper J3 Cup. Since some of his 747s had a cargo door, then one year they took the wings off the Cup, loaded it on a 747, and with a bunch of friends he flew (as captain) the 747 to the great fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he won the prize for the most beautifully restored Piper Cup.

Founder and first CEO of Cimber Air Captain Ingolf Nielsen started his company in 1950 flying air taxi in a two seat plane. Some 25 years later he had a couple of dozen planes flying domestic routes in Denmark and Germany. You could sometimes be on a plane with himself as captain, his son as FO, and daughter as FA. While mom was sitting back home managing the administration department. Son took over as CEO in 1985, and in 1984 a grandson took over.

The 4th CEO was not in the family, but also a captain in the airline. Some years ago he was practising for an upcoming air show, and when practise was over he made a barrel roll with the ATR-42. Unfortunately someone was there with a camcorder, and it went on Youtube. The authorities had to remind him that this 46 seats airliner wasn't certified as an acro plane.
Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:39 am

Its more about personalities......
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
LH422
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:16 pm

I somehow have the feeling that the CEO of Transaero really likes airplanes, judging by the diversity of their fleet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transaero_Airlines#Fleet
 
F9Animal
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:58 pm

Not an airline, but a FBO. Clay Lacy Aviation Clay Lacy is a huge airplane nut. He has a DC-3 painted in UA colors, and she is absolutely beautiful! He has a few other planes as well. I have met him a few times. When I was fueling his DC-3, he climbed up on the Wing with me. When I asked him about his plane, he lit up like a 12 year old boy! He just loves flying, and loves to share stories. A very nice man!
I Am A Different Animal!!
 
YVRLTN
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:32 am

Buffalo Joe. nuff said

Pilots the YZF-YHY sched personally whenever possible.
Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
 
ODwyerPW
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:30 am

I'd call RIchard Branson a huge aviation buff.
learning never stops.
 
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RyanairGuru
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RE: Are Some Airline CEOs Also Aviation Buffs?

Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:53 am

Believe it or not, a lot of senior executives in this industry are here because they want to be. Beyond the obvious point that executive remuneration is pretty low compared to other industries, look at almost any CEO of your choosing and there is a pretty decent chance that they have spent their entire career in the industry. The industry is incredibly insular, and there is something of a "if you last two years then you're a lifer" mentality, which applies to everyone from flight attendants to senior executives.
Worked Hard, Flew Right

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