The Best Office in the World: Q&A with Bryan Alexander, Citation X Captain
When we talk to our pilots, they often tell us they have “the best office in the world.” Hence the name for of this blog post series. Today’s interview is with Bryan Alexander, a captain on the XOJET Citation X.
XOJET Blog: Bryan, tell us a little bit about you and your role at XOJET.
Bryan: I’m a Citation X captain for XOJET and I’ve been with the company since October 2007. I joined as one of XOJET’s first Denver-based crew members. Before that, I spent five years flying with a regional airline.
XOJET Blog: How did you become an XOJET pilot?
Bryan: Like a lot of pilots, my dad taught me to fly at a very young age—I think I was 10 or 12. But when I grew up, I ended up running an excavation business. In 2001, just before 9/11, I started the process to become a commercial pilot and pursue my dream of flying. I felt it was really time for a major career change. I stuck with it, even though the industry changed dramatically while I was getting my multi-instrument and other ratings.
My first commercial flying job was with Mesa Airlines, which was a regional feeder for United Express. The experience was incredible, but the commuting, schedules and pay all made it not such a great job. So, after doing that for five years, I was looking for something other than a commercial airline. I heard about XOJET and began communication with their recruiting personnel for approximately a year before they began hiring pilots based outside of Sacramento.
XOJET Blog: What do you like the most about flying the Citation X?
Bryan: The Citation X is an incredible airplane in terms of speed and performance. It’s incredibly fast and has the ability to climb higher than most planes allowing us to avoid a lot of thunderstorms in the summer, which makes for a much smoother flight. Plus it handles like a sports car. When I started training to become a pilot, I never imagined flying at 47,000 feet at over 600 miles per hour.
XOJET Blog: What’s your favorite part of being a pilot?
Bryan: I have the best office view in the world. I get to see the country from a very different perspective, and I get to see parts of the country and the world that most people never have an opportunity to experience. I also love the flying and the type of people we fly. Plus no two days are the same.
XOJET Blog: What’s your biggest challenge?
Bryan: Adapting to last-minute schedule changes is probably the hardest thing. You prepare to fly to one airport and sometimes your destination changes mid-flight. This job requires you to be very flexible.
XOJET Blog: What are some of your favorite and most exotic destinations?
Bryan: The mountain airports present a technical and mental challenge, and the scenery there is hard to beat. You really have to be on your A-Game when you fly into the mountains. Then again, I love to fly to Hawaii, which is also one of the more exotic places I’ve flown. The Caribbean destinations such as, St. Maarten, Antigua and Bermuda can also make for nice flights.
XOJET Blog: What was the training like to become a Citation X pilot?
Bryan: I spent a month in training. We had one week of ground school followed by three weeks of simulator training. In addition, we had aircraft systems training on the electrical, A/C, engines and more. Basically, XOJET wants you to be a pretty sound mechanic when you fly. You have to know the aircraft inside and out, literally. But that makes it so much easier to make decisions when you’re flying.
Once you’re certified, you have to return for a day of training every six months, and once a year you take a weeklong refresher class.
One of the great things about working for XOJET is that the company is much more involved in your progress than an airline. You get a mentor who can assist you in getting to know the company, and who can help you through the rough spots in the training. They really take the time and invest in good people to help you out in areas where you might be struggling.
XOJET Blog: That’s impressive. What else do you like about working for XOJET?
Bryan: This company has a remarkable resilience for surviving a downturn. I think you can credit that in part to TPG. But to me personally, despite all of our growth, it’s still a people company. XOJET really cares about its people.
A while back, my wife’s mother unexpectedly passed away while I was in the air. My wife called XOJET to have them get a message to me that she was flying back home. By the time I landed, the company had already made arrangements to get me off rotation and on a flight to meet my wife for the funeral. Most companies would require verification for you to even take the time off. XOJET took care of my family and me without me even asking. To have a company treat me that way was just incredible. The pay is competitive, but the intangibles are exceptional. It would be very hard to leave.