The National Business Aviation Association presents Pilot Flying Safety awards each year to the member company pilots who have exemplary safety records. To be eligible for an award, a pilot must have flown corporate aircraft 1,500 hours without an accident, but the actual number of safe hours flown by many of the 2009 top pilots are above 20,000 hours, and the greatest number, 30,849 hours, were logged by T. William White, chief pilot of the Keller Companies. Following are some insights into the lives of some of these top performers.
David Chilman, line captain
Michelin North America, Greenville, S.C.
David Chilman has been a line captain with Michelin North America for 23 years and flies the Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 850, which he said is his favorite corporate airplane. But he added, “I also enjoyed the Gulfstream I.”
Chilman was in ROTC in college when he attended a presentation on Army aviation. “My roommate said, ‘Let’s sign up.’ We did, and I fell in love with flying and I have been ever since,” he told AIN. In the military, he flew UH-1H Hueys in Vietnam and was fortunate to spend only one year there.
After leaving the Army, Chilman instructed in Sioux Falls, S.D., before joining Trane Heating and Air-Conditioning in La Crosse, Wis., as a pilot. Trane was bought by American Standard and the flight department was closed. Chilman then flew for May Department Stores, out of St. Louis, then joined Michelin.
Michelin’s flight department in St. Louis opened 25 years ago, with two Hawkers. The flight department in Greenville now has six pilots, three mechanics and a scheduler/dispatcher.
Chilman said his good safety record is due to the company’s outstanding training (it uses FlightSafety International and CAE SimuFlite). “I’ve been fortunate with the people I fly with, too,” he said. All the pilots are line captains, and he said, “that makes a safe crew. I have had no tight squeezes, but if I did, it’s nice to know you have a good crew.”
Kenneth Qualls, President and CEO
Flight Management Solutions, Boca Raton, Fla.
When Kenneth Qualls advises corporations on the management of their flight departments, he speaks from experience. Before he founded Flight Management Solutions in 1989, he was, among other positions, chief pilot for Tiger Air, chief pilot for 20th Century Fox (which included minor roles in M*A*S*H and other TV shows) and director of aviation for Toyota.
He started corporate flying in 1969, flying the Beech King Air, Fairchild F-27, Hawker Siddeley HS125-1A, Lockheed JetStar and Gulfstream I for Union Camp.
With type ratings for more than 20 jets, he is one of the few pilots who are type-rated in “virtually every model produced by Gulfstream, from the GI to the G550.” He has a total of 26,000 flight hours, of which 20,992 are corporate and more than 9,000 are in Gulfstreams. Since founding FMS, he continues to fly GVs, GVs and G550s.
If you asked Qualls about his most apprehensive (yet privileged) moments as a pilot, he would tell you it was when he was chosen to fly former President Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and President-elect Ronald Reagan from Los Angeles to Palm Springs for the dedication of the Eisenhower Hospital. Qualls thought, “Oh, I would certainly go down in history if something happens.”
Qualls said that he shares his Safe Flying award with Al Ueltschi, founder of FlightSafety International, who lent him money “to continue and prosper in my career. Virtually 90 percent of my training in all corporate aircraft has been through FlightSafety programs. I believe many of us who have survived the embarrassment of an accident or incident owes an incredible amount of gratitude for the vision and development of safety programs Al Ueltschi and his FlightSafety associates have brought to our world.”
Marion Maneth, Pipeline Patrol Supervisor
Spectra Energy, Little Rock, Ark.
Spectra Energy, one of North America’s leading providers of natural gas infrastructure, is headquartered in Houston, Texas, but Marion Maneth is based at its base at Little Rock National Airport in Arkansas.
He flies one of the company’s six Cessna 206s. Other aircraft in the company fleet are two Hawkers, an 800A and a 900XP, based in Houston. Spectra has 12 pilots on staff and 18 total people in the company’s flight department. The company also has regional offices in Boston and British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Maneth joined Spectra in September 1989 and has been in his current position, pipeline patrol supervisor, for 10 years.
When asked how he got interested in aviation, Maneth said, “When I was a young farm kid in Kansas, my dad was working on his private license. He used to take me and my brother to the airport to hang around while he took his lessons. My brother and I tried to put wings on bicycles, we “parachuted” off our barn with mom’s bed sheets and my grandfather would make large box kites that we would fly for hours. As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in flying.” (Maneth’s brother also flies for Spectra, out of Houston.)
Flying wasn’t part of Maneth’s Army service in the 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) in Washington, D.C., but he told AIN, “I joined a military flying club at Hyde Field, Maryland, near Andrews Air Force Base. I was flying Cessna 150s at $6 an hour.”
After his military service, Maneth worked at Liberal Aircraft and Floyd Aero, both in Liberal, Kan. “At Liberal Aircraft, I was a charter pilot, and at Floyd Aero, I was an aerial applicator,” he said.
When asked his favorite corporate airplane to fly, he said, “I’ve never met an airplane I didn’t like, just like some more than others. Obviously, the Cessna 206 ranks pretty high.”
Asked about his safe record, Maneth said, “Spectra Energy has always had a culture of and commitment to safety. From our equipment to our training, safety is the first consideration. Flying 900 hours a year at 500 feet off the ground,” he continued, “you really are safety conscious.” Next year, the company will reach its 60th year without an accident. The company has an updated fleet and the best instrumentation, he said, noting that the 206s are equipped with Garmin G1000 glass panels.
Edmund Dilworth, Line Captain
FL Aviation, Morristown, N.J.
Edmund “Edd” Dilworth is a captain for the aircraft management and charter firm FL Aviation of Morristown, N.J. One of 19 pilots at FL, he flies one of the firm’s three Gulfstream IVs. The company also operates two GVs, one Dassault Falcon 2000 and two Sikorsky S-76s. “Gulfstreams are my favorite aircraft,” Dilworth said. “I started out in the Gulfstream I.”
Dilworth became interested in aviation while serving in the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as a mechanic, mostly overseas, maintaining all the air force aircraft of the early 1960s. He started learning to fly in a J-3 Cub in a military flying club in Germany and spent his last year of service at the Air War College in Alabama, maintaining its Cessna 310s and Aero Commander 560s. “I had had enough oil running down my arms,” he told AIN, so he obtained his private and commercial certificates and multi-engine and instrument ratings by the time his enlistment was up.
After that, Dilworth went to work for Bendix as a machinist, making magnetos, then was a flight instructor and charter pilot for a Cessna dealer in Erie, Pa., and had a succession of corporate flying jobs piloting King Airs, Gulfstream Is and Learjets. He was hired as a Boeing 757 captain by a Lufthansa division, Condor, but before his training was complete, the Berlin Wall came down and the company hired East German pilots.
He helped SmithKline set up its flight department and when it merged with Beecham in the UK, he flew a GIII shuttle operation between Philadelphia and London Heathrow. Dilworth did contract flying for Jet Aviation and Wayfarer, which was taken over by TAG, then went to work for FL Aviation. Along the way, he said, he flew a number of celebrities and politicians, including presidents Clinton, Ford and Bush.
Dilworth’s long safety record is due, he told AIN, “to hiring the right individuals, excellent training and standardization of policies and procedures.”