A Memorable Holiday: Thanksgiving with Sting & Trudie

People are always asking me about ¬†celebrities and any stories I may have about them. Questions like, who is your favorite celebrity passenger? who was your worst celebrity passenger? etc…

All of us in private aviation sign non-disclosure agreements, so talking about what happens onboard a private jet is a no-no…just like what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas..same motto. What happens in the air, stays in the air. ūüôā¬†¬†Many of us crew members may share our stories with each other but not with the general public. ¬†If we did we wouldn’t have a job for too long. ¬†In fact, we as crew members go out of our way to protect the privacy of our clients.

I can tell this story because it was many years ago and NOT onboard the plane. Plus, it’s a great story!

My pilots and I were flying around the amazingly talented music artist Sting and his band, for his Brand New Day Tour. It was many years ago now and we ended up being in Manhattan, New York for Thanksgiving. Sting asked me what the crew members were doing for Thanksgiving and I said “…its Manhattan, we’ll find plenty of places to eat”. ¬†I ¬†was actually so excited to be in NYC, as I LOVE that city!! The lights, the people, the energy!

Anyway, he then invited us to his home and said Trudie was cooking. I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open at his invitation. This was Sting inviting us to his home for Thanksgiving, pretty awesome, right?! ¬†That’s just the generous, caring person Sting is. He truly cared about his flight crew having a place to go for the holiday since we were away from our own families.

My pilots and I were like giggly little school kids as we made our way up Central Park to their home.  Once there, Sting & Trudie greeted us at the door and invited us in like we were old friends. They were extremely gracious, kind and giving as they showed us around their home and made us feel welcomed.

There were other celebrities in attendance and the whole experience was so surreal. We were just an ordinary flight crew surrounded by famous people in a beautiful home for Thanksgiving.

So I have to say, Sting is definitely one of my most favorite people that I’ve ever had the privilege of flying. ¬†Not to mention, he invited us to his concerts; after parties and dinners while on the road. It was an absolute blast!!!

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WARNING: Fake Aviation Pilot Licenses May Be Rampant In Russia

Many of us may already know that Russia has the worst aviation safety history, but it’s now coming to light that airline pilots for small regional carriers may have obtained fake pilot licenses.

Why any sane person would think they could fly a plane without extensive instruction, skill and practice just boggles my mind! There are some professions that you CANNOT fake, being an aviation pilot is at the TOP of the list!!! (the other would be a fake sign language interpreter in South Africa, but I’ll save that story for another article) ūüôā

It’s already incomprehensible to many including myself, how aircraft get off the ground and are able to fly in the first place. ¬†Aircraft designers and engineers have my utmost respect! All hail the Wright Brothers and other aviation pioneers who’ve now made global travel an everyday experience.

This disturbing news about fake licenses is now being investigated after the recent commercial crash of ¬†Tatarstan Airlines¬†earlier last month that killed all 50 onboard. The captain is believed to have had a fake pilot’s license!!!!

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Here’s how the debacle breaks down. First, there’s been a shortage of new qualified and trained Russian pilots; that coupled with the demand for more travel within Russia and neighboring countries lead¬†the government to outsource pilot training & certification to sometimes shady companies. These local flight centers may have cut corners for profit by essential giving unqualified people a pilots’ license, in essence you could buy your license without having the skill or training so inherently required.

In an earlier article I talked about the passing of my good friend Josef Vasicek, who was killed along with his hockey teammates in a plane crash in Russia in 2011.  The cause of his crash was deemed pilot error and it seems his pilots were also inadequately trained on the aircraft they were flying. They were pushing the brakes for take-off instead of giving it the speed needed to get off the ground!!! A stupid freaking mistake that killed many wonderful and deeply missed people. It breaks my heart.

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Current reports are saying the fake licenses may be limited to small regional russian carriers, but I believe with further investigations it may be found out to be more widespread and not limited to russian made aircraft. The Tatarstan Airlines aircraft was a Boeing 737, a reliable American made aircraft but in the hands of incompetent wanna-be pilots.

Has anyone ever seen President Putin getting off a commercial aircraft? I would almost wager a bet that Russian President Vladmir Putin travels exclusively on private jets….and that his pilots are either American or British.

Warning to all reading this article: ¬†Don’t book the cheapest airline carrier when traveling in that region, find a reputable (non-russian) operator to fly with, your odds of getting to your destination may be greatly increased.