Brendan Donovan, corporate pilot
"My whole life I aspired to be a pilot," says Brendan Donovan. "I probably caught the bug from watching my dad skydive when I was a kid." Today, Donovan is a pilot of a Falcon 50 and a Bombardier Global Express for a Part 91 operator in the Northeast.
Donovan began pumping fuel at Lawrence G. Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. He attended Daniel Webster College and worked on his ratings. After earning a flight instructor certificate, Donovan instructed for Air Training Systems Inc. of Teterboro, New Jersey, as well as at Daniel Webster. When he wasn't instructing, he ferried airplanes and motorgliders for Daniel Webster and a ferrying company.
Alpha Flying, a Pilatus PC-12 operator in Manchester, New Hampshire, hired Donovan to fly right seat. "This job was great. It was my first exposure to the corporate world. I was able to gain experience flying in the Northeast in all kinds of weather," he says. "The bad aspect was the pay. It's simply hard to make a living on instructor and entry-level flying jobs." He landed a job at Atlantic Coast Airlines flying right seat in BAe Jetstream 41s and later was a first officer in the Canadair Regional Jet for ACA and Independence Air.
NetJets hired Donovan as a copilot in the Cessna Citation X, and he spent 18 months at that job before accepting his current position. Donovan considers corporate aviation a perfect fit for him. "We fly to different places all the time, all around the world," he says.
"Corporate aviation stays on the leading edge of technology, such as enhanced vision systems, synthetic vision systems, and electronic flight bags." The job keeps him on call, but most trips are scheduled a week or more ahead of departure.
For those seeking a similar job, Donovan recommends keeping at it. "Anything that is worth a hard effort will pay off for you in the end. Don't just shoot for the airlines. Corporate flying is a rewarding and fascinating form of aviation."
Pete Bedell is a Boeing 737 first officer for a major airline and contributor to AOPA Flight Training and AOPA Pilot magazines.