Cape Air provides a super supportive environment, and I loved that. It has to do with the smaller company culture, and it has to do with the safety culture. You knew who the chief pilots were. You knew who the check airmen were. You knew who the training captains were. You could sit in the crew room with the really senior captains, who have been around the block a time or two, and you could ask them those tough questions and get answers that come from their experiences.
Also, it is a great place to develop your technical piloting skills. You’re flying a smaller “hands-on” airplane. It is great piloting experience. You’re not using autopilot all that much, and you are operating in that difficult weather environment, specifically in New England. You are making critical “go/no-go” decisions and you are getting knocked around a bit. You don’t have as many tools as you do in a jet, flying at altitudes with two jet engines on the airplane. So, you are making difficult decisions about weather and aircraft capabilities every single day. That builds confidence, it builds a general experience level that is really hard to find anywhere else, and that is really going to make you a better pilot. It made me ten times the pilot I would have otherwise been.
After my Cape Air experience, when I came into my first jet training scenario at JetBlue, I felt like, hey, I’ve seen a lot of things, I’ve experienced a lot of things. I may have never flown a jet before, but I know that there is a basis of understanding on my part that is going to allow me to be successful in this next career move.
I think at the end of the day, some of the most enjoyable flying days that I’ve ever had were at Cape Air. Some of the fondest memories I can think back to are days of flying down in the Caribbean, flying on the Cape and Islands, especially in the summertime, experiences I had living in different places and enjoying the camaraderie of a lot of the other pilots and co-workers. It’s a really fun job.