Even since I have been a young boy I have been fascinated by two things: precision and performance. So it came really naturally that I was dreaming of becoming a Jet-Pilot one sunny day. For many years it was just a dream since I did neither have the time nor the money to even think about starting this training with a heading.
I am sure that some of you know that you can not “just” become a Jet-Pilot by studying for a more or less long time, passing your theoretical test and taking a check-ride (practical test) and then – voilà – you can call yourself a Jet-Pilot. No, you could study as much as you want and take as many check rides as you can afford, but that would “only” get you to become a “normal” pilot – which is already something since it is not just like making a driver’s license for a car, especially when it comes to higher degrees of pilot licenses. It all starts with the basic (PPL) Private Pilot License, then you could add-on your ME (Multi-Engine-Rating) and if you really want to use your abilities to fly at (almost) all weather conditions you would have to pass a theoretical exam and again a check ride to qualify under IMC (Instrument Methodical Conditions), also know as IFR-License. Inspired also by the movie “Top Gun” I did all that in America and in three steps with always one year in-between because I did neither have the money nor the time to do it all in one go since I had to build up my business, otherwise I would never be able to afford any private-jet.
But again, all that would not give you the ability to call yourself a Jet-Pilot and fly – ideally your own – Private Jet. What you must – and really also “should” – have is a minimum of 500 hours experience because otherwise you will not be able to obtain a so-called “type-rating”. That is not really a license, but the legal authorisation to fly any private or business Jet. Now my question was – and I guess for all other aviators heading my way as well – where do I fly my minimum hours in order to make my type rating? My solution was to get myself a smaller plane and use it for all my air-born travel needs so that I could already “fly private” while getting the needed experience. I did not have to look too far, since one of the best manufacturers of such aircraft is located just outside of Vienna and therefore it was a bit easier for me to find the right plane and set-up rather fast. Now, after such a long time taking control of an aircraft for the first time early September 1998, I had my very own plane: a twin-propeller with carbon-fibre chassis and a glass-cockpit (meaning no analogue/mechanical flight instruments for normal operations), which was the top-end airplane in this category at the time.
Having now my PPL-ME-IFR license and my first own little plane, I was doing all kinds of needed – and even unneeded – trips, sometimes with friends for the fun of it, sometimes with a co-pilot to make my business trips even more efficient and many times it was just a mixture of both. I had the most amazing times being so independent from all the hassle modern travelling with commercial aircraft brings along. Not only that the time from my house to take-off was divided into less than half, also I could go wherever I want with whomever I want. Also being up in the flight-levels give you impressions of our wonderful planet that only people in the cockpit of an aircraft can enjoy to that extend. Back on earth again, I always took a so-called “first landing picture” every time when I landed on an airport or even private airfield, for the very first time. Till now I have about 60 of such pictures, hence have been on as many different airports. Obviously all of them are very different, but I especially remember a few.
First, Berlin Tempelhof has been just amazing landing right into the largest City of Germany. Especially landing there at night was an incomparable experience –and one not to repeat anymore since the former Mayor of Berlin has decided to close this unique airport for reasons which I did not understand. Also landing in Gibraltar is quite unique since the runway is crossing a motorway, which is – strangely enough – closed while planes are coming in and going out. Not to forget Shoreham, the old(EST) Airport in Europe right at the south coast of England. I could continue this list for a very long time, even without speaking about all my other wonderful moments as an aviator, which would easily fill a few books, but this is not really important to become a Jet-Pilot
What is important, even necessary to become a Jet-Pilot, is the mentioned type rating. So after years of flying around Europe with my own plane and having done north of the needed 500 hours I decided last year to go for my type rating in order to become now a real Jet-Pilot. The reason why I have decided at that time to (finally) make my type rating was – and still is – twofold: First, I have restructured during the last year or so my entire business organisation. I have set the entire MARKUS LEHNER ORGANISATION on much more structured and organised grounds, employed a few more people for my personal needs as well as re-organised all of my main companies. Since none of them – except the MARKUS LEHNER FAMILY OFFICE, which is not really a company – is located where I live I had/have to travel a lot. For example, during the time I am writing this blog I was in 6 cities in just about 3 days. Such heavy travelling is much more efficient – and also convenient – when you fly private. Second, since a few years I have a family with one daughter and when we travel we always have at least our Governess and/or housekeeper with us and then it makes a big difference if you travel private or commercial – believe me, I tried both.
Mainly for those two reasons I started looking for the right type of aircraft since a type-rating, as the name suggests, is just valid for one type of aircraft and does not give you the right nor the know-how to fly any other type of plane. After serious consideration, I have chosen which type of aircraft I wanted to be rated-in and started planning where I would do my training and thereafter also my check-ride. Even if I have spent quite some time in my life in racing cars and therefore got used to the “need for speed” I have to admit that Jet-flying is another league of performance. The sensation when you are pushing the throttles forward for take-off is second to none. The power you sense when a few thousand pounds of thrust are rocking you fast-forward is just amazing. Controlling not only that in every normal and – even more important – abnormal situation is what you are trained so that after several days of alternating studying and flying you could go for your check-flight. During my check-ride I felt that everything I learned in aviation for the past 20 years crossed my mind so that all my knowledge and experience would be present in order to pass my Jet-Rating as a crew member and become what I was dreaming of since I was a little boy: A Jet-Pilot