Michael Corrigan went through different stations at PlaneSense: From first officer captain and line instructor pilot to assistant chief pilot for the PC-12 programme. In the interview Michael explanes why the PC-12 at PlaneSense is a success story and how he became one of their pilots. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
Michael, have you always wanted to be a pilot?
I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, but not necessarily a career pilot. My father used to take me flying as a kid and I’ve been addicted to it for as long as I can remember. He and I would sit at the airport for hours with our handheld radio, watching the airplanes take off and land. Growing up, I actually wanted to become a lawyer. I’m not really sure at what point I made the decision to pursue a professional career in aviation, but I can’t imagine doing anything else right now! All I know is that I couldn’t have come this far without the support of my parents encouraging me to go out and do what I love. And now I owe so much to my wife, whose love and support for me and my career is constant and unwavering.
How did you find your way into the job at PlaneSense?
I had been living and working in Florida for several years and was looking for a way to get back up north and be closer to my family. My roommate at the time had previously flown for PlaneSense, then known as Alpha Flying. He always had great things to say about working here and was completely in love with the PC-12. Another friend of mine who was flying here set me up with an interview and I was lucky enough to land the job. As per FAA requirements, and to maximise the safety of our owners, we fly the PC-12 as a crew of two. So, I was initially hired as First Officer. After about a year I upgraded to Captain and after that I was made a Line Instructor Pilot. Around twelve months ago I was asked to join the management team as the Assistant Chief Pilot for the PC-12 programme.
What kind of operations do you fly for PlaneSense?
We are a fractional ownership operator. The people we fly aren’t just passengers, they’re owners. As such, the places we fly to and the times that we fly at are all owner driven. Some of our flights are business people on their way to or from meetings. Sometimes it’s a family on their way to their favourite vacation destination. Others use us to commute to and from their offices. Each owner has unique needs, and each flight is a unique mission. We have several hundred individual owners, but we operate on such a personal level that we get to know some of our passengers on a first name basis. We provide superior customer service along with safe, reliable, comfortable transportation.
Can you describe a typical working day?
One of the main reasons that PlaneSense appealed to me so much is the fact that there is no such things as a typical working day. Every day is different. Some days I might just be on standby at the airport, other days I may do two or three trips, and then some days I might be doing up to eight flights in a single day. We do however follow strict FAA rest and duty rules, so we are limited to ten hours of flying over a 14 hour duty day with a mandatory ten hours of rest in between duty periods. So some days you might have BBQ for lunch in Texas and lobster in Maine for dinner. You just never know where the day will take you until you’re actually there!
Where does PlaneSense fly to?
We primarily operate in the eastern half of the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. However, since all our flying is owner driven, it’s not uncommon for us to fly to the Rocky Mountain region and points west of there. An example of one of my trips had me overnighting in Halifax, Nova Scotia on my first day out. The next night I spent in Key West, Florida and the next night was in Sun Valley, Idaho. In the world of jets that might not be super impressive, but those are some serious legs for a single engine turboprop! With the PC-12’s superior capability in terms of getting in and out of both large and small airfields, PlaneSense flies into nearly 800 different airfields a year.
How many flights have you done with a PC-12?
I’ve done right around 2,500 flights in the PC-12. I have flown it through all sorts of weather conditions; rain, wind, snow, ice, extreme cold, and extreme heat. I’ve brought it in and out of big airports like JFK in New York as well little grass strips that aren’t even airports at all, and everything in between. I’ve done flights so short we barely have time to bring the wheels up, and others that have come close to seven hours. Reflecting on all of that, the PC-12 is a truly reliable, truly safe airplane. Pair that reliability and safety with a well trained and experienced flight crew such as we do on a daily basis, and you have what sets PlaneSense apart from all the others.
What do you do in your free time?
Now that I’m in the office, managing 130 pilots has left me with very little free time. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for almost three years, and together we take advantage of all that New Hampshire has to offer. In the summer, we enjoy hiking the White Mountains and spending our time at the beach, or exploring one of the many picturesque towns in New England. In the winter we love to ski, and of course travel to where it’s warmer as much as we can.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve enjoyed my time at PlaneSense very much. It has afforded me the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop as a professional pilot, and now as a manager. I’ve had the chance to fly to so many wonderful places over the years alongside some of the most talented aviators I’ve ever met. I came to PlaneSense because it fits my lifestyle, and I’ll continue to work here for as long as it is appropriate for me and my family. That is as much future planning as I can tell you!
Are you going to fly the PC-24 as well?
I am currently slated to fly the PC-24. We’ll receive our first PC-24 later this year, with many more to follow. At some point my number will be called to fly it. P02 visited us in Portsmouth this past fall, and it was an exciting experience. Over the winter we had the opportunity to host the PC-24 cabin mock-up in our facility which was equally exciting. I have no doubt that the PC-24 is going to be a cutting-edge aircraft, and I certainly look forward to seeing them go to work servicing our owners as admirably as the PC-12 has throughout our history as a company.