Enjoy highly personalized service throughout your journey. Our experienced team facilitates all airport formalities and you never have to worry about your luggage—it just shows up in your room. Private jet tours remove the hassle from travel. Let us take care of the details so you can enjoy the journey.
How long have you been flying?
I started flying gliders at the age of 16, so I have been flying for 32 years. Of those years, 22 have been spent flying the Boeing 757.
What do you enjoy about flying?
I relish the unique challenge it provides. The skills required lie somewhere between a science and an art, and it is a profession that no one can ever claim to have mastered as every day provides a new set of challenges. Simpler pleasures are provided by the view that we as pilots are fortunate to have, looking down on the world from above.
Away from work, the view of the English countryside from the open cockpit of my 1946 biplane is like no other. However, to get a real sense of the joys of flight, anyone who is interested should read the American author Richard Bach. He says it so much better than I can in his books about flying.
What are some misconceptions people have about pilots and flying in general?
The biggest misconception is that modern-day airplanes are driven solely by computers and pilots have little or nothing to do. The destinations that Thomson Airways pilots fly to on a day-to-day basis require them to be able to fly the aircraft safely, comfortably and accurately in the most demanding of conditions at any time of the day or night. They most certainly aren’t just along for the ride.
What do you do during your downtime on your trips?
Over the last couple of decades, flying for Thomson Airways on TCS Expeditions has provided me with the opportunity to see and experience the most incredible sights the world has to offer. After landing, as soon as we have completed all the tasks necessary to make sure the expedition is running smoothly, the crew start planning their itinerary. From riding elephants around the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, to the emotional day spent in the peace park at Hiroshima, a spectacular sightseeing flight around Mount Everest, or a trip to see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, it would take me all day to compile a top 10.
What are some of your favorite places to visit on expeditions?
One of my favorite countries is India with its vibrant, colorful culture and fabulous historical architecture, but I think Easter Island with its enigmatic moai and aura of peace is one of the most inspiring places I have visited.
Do you get time to interact with the passengers? And what are some common questions they ask you?
All our pilots are keen to interact with their passengers and a TCS expedition provides a unique opportunity to get to know people over a number of weeks. Many of our passengers have an active interest in aviation so the conversation quickly heads in that direction.
Other passengers have unique backgrounds and interests that provide fascinating insights into worlds completely different to ours. With three pilots on board, one is often able to visit the cabin and chat, and once the aircraft is on the ground, flight deck visits are welcomed. Questions can range from the deeply technical to a simple “Where are we?” in which case the pilot’s atlas will be produced.
What are some difficulties involved with flying in and out of airports where infrastructure may pose a challenge?
Aviation has progressed so rapidly that even the most remote airfields are equipped with all the necessary equipment required to safely operate a private jet such as our Boeing 757. Some airfields are restricted in the amount of ramp space they have available, and this can cause problems when we need to park for several days. I was once required to demonstrate the ability of the 757 to reverse into a parking spot as space was at a premium and no push back tractor was available. Judging by the reaction of the locals, I don’t think they thought we could do that.
What would you like people to know about flying with us?
I would like people to know that the expedition experience is absolutely second to none. The combination of the attention to detail and innovation that TCS has in producing and delivering jaw-dropping itineraries coupled with the professionalism and years of experience Thomson Airways has in working in tandem with the TCS team produces a product that I have been proud to have been associated with for more than 20 years.
Finally, can you tell us about nose-wheel bingo?
Nose-wheel bingo, or nose-wheel roulette, evolved in the first few years of the relationship between Thomson Airways and TCS. It has puzzled many a ground engineer that has seen the nose wheel and its numerical markings. At the start of a TCS trip, one of the pilots will divide the nose wheel up into 16 segments and number them, one number per crew member using chalk or corrector fluid. Numbers will then be drawn by all the crew members and a certain stake deposited with a trusted individual, usually the lead captain.
On arrival at the destination, the first crew member down the steps, normally the engineer, will read the number nearest the 6 o’clock position on the nose wheel, i.e. the number nearest the ground. The holder of that number is the day’s lucky winner. I wouldn’t dare to suggest that the engineers seem to do better at this than any other crew member, but we have our suspicions.
Our guests always want to know what private jet travel is like. The truth is that private jet travel is relaxing, convenient and exciting. There is simply no better way to take in as many world highlights in one trip than by private jet. Here guest services director Scott Leviton shares the top five questions he receives about the jets.
Do seats lie flat?
The seats recline about three-fourths of the way. They’re similar to a comfortable leather recliner that you can’t wait to lounge in. When you tire of sitting, you’ll have plenty of room to stand, stretch or move about. And we never fly overnight so you’ll spend every night in a cozy bed.
What kind of food and beverages are available on the jet?
We have a dedicated catering manager and an executive chef. You’ll find a delicious selection of meals that can be customized to conform to special dietary needs, and there’s even a dessert cart. For drinks, there is a plentiful beer and wine selection, and we have a full range of international brands and flavors so you can enjoy your favorite cocktails in the air.
Our jet crew is a ton of fun and the service is highly personalized. After your first stop, everyone knows your name and favorite drink. Returning to our jet after a sightseeing feels like you are returning home to the mother ship.
How are seats assigned?
One month before departure, each guest gets two seat assignments. In the middle of the trip, everyone rotates to their second seat assignment. Our jet is designed to provide a uniform experience. All seats recline and you have ample legroom no matter where you sit. Private jet travel ensures you’ll get a relaxed, comfortable experience regardless of where you sit.
What kind of onboard entertainment is offered?
Each passenger has the use of an iPad that comes loaded with trip-related information. We also provide noise-canceling Bose headsets. You can listen to your music or the music channels onboard the jet. When a lecturer is speaking, you can listen through the Bose headsets and the visuals are loaded onto the iPad, making it easy for you to follow along.
Can I plug in my electronics?
Absolutely. The jet has outlets so you can charge your cameras, phones, iPad or any other electronics.