By Koutetsu An

Unfiltered Eyes

It was not the sight I was waiting to see from the cockpit window at any moment of my career. Flashing red and blue lights on the vehicle surrounding the cockpit take my attention as I feel the unknown sweat run down at back of my neck.

“Are you ready for the passenger?” The voice behind me reels me back inside the cockpit, but I can only focus at the veins on the muscular upper arm of the man. I can feel the bloodstream on my finger as I tested the switch again but in vain. I explain that we are not ready for the flight due to malfunction of our aircraft system. The man nods calmly and walks down the stairs from the aircraft back to the darkly tinted window to relay the message.

I was not particularly concerned with this man with huge arms and black sunglasses. It was the gentleman inside the dark-tinted window that I was eyeing. He may very well take the relationship between this country and his in hostage for one simple mistake like ours. Weather was fair, and the flight was only 1 hour each way. Our only job was to fly this gentleman and his secured party from the origin to the destination and back to original airport. How I wished it were the usual party gang flying to Vegas or a celebrity’s daughter bringing her dog to the Hamptons. We can fill their champagne glasses and pretend nothing ever happened.

Private Jet Bombardier CL-601

An entrance of a private jet

Did I get too comfortable with the charter world flying the rich and famous customers that somehow I got myself into thinking that I was a part of it all? Now that with one complain from this gentleman can leave me not just jobless but back to square one, I was not feeling too special anymore.

Unlit instrument panel was still staring at me as if to ask me if I was going to do something about the situation. The mechanic was on the way, but he’s still on the other side of the field. It felt like a lifetime until he showed up in a golf cart in front of our radar dome. He rechecks all the items I’ve tried and reports that he needs another mechanic to help him restore the system. That will be at least another 30 min of wait time plus some more to fix the unit. Various thoughts went through my mind as I watch the two mechanics run between the cockpit and outside back and forth.

I was based in NY where private jets and corporate jets come from all over the world

Charter flying offers privacy, luxury and most of all convenience of flying at customer’s selected departure time. Most people pay the extra thousands of dollars to save time for an important business meeting or shave off 5 mins of their precious time. I’ve had instances where the customers were outrageously mad about being late despite being on a chartered aircraft. The heat came directly at pilots in the business jet unlike the commercial jets. I was ready for all of it together with a new plan to look for the next job right away.

We had asked the passenger group to wait at least 2 hours before we could accept them into the aircraft for another departure. The man in the sunglasses returns to the shiny vehicle, then a few minutes later the VIPs started climbing up the aircraft stairs.

“Thank you very much for your effort.”

The gentleman takes my hand and gives me a confusing compliment. It was opposite reaction than what I had expected that I could not process his straight eyes of gratitude at that moment. Having used to being the charter pilot, I found myself aiming for a perfect flight, which we flew the plane on time while meeting every wish of each needy passenger. I had forgotten how to put effort into caring about passengers and putting my passion into my work somewhere along the way. Warm hands from that gentleman that day set me back to realize what is really important. The so-called undeveloped country he may be representing is not as rich as other countries in the world, but I surely felt that he possessed the strength of unfiltered eyes to look through the world with clear vision.

p.s. Wish I could introduce this gentleman’s identity, but in vain.

I was not expecting any of the things that happened on this day…