As I write this, I’ve started another course for my PhD in Aviation Program, The Economic Environment of Aviation. I remarked in my Twitter account that it seems that economics and aviation shouldn’t really appear in the same sentence.

Many times in my aviation career, I’ve heard the quote: “If you want to make a small fortune in aviation, start out with a large one!” I have certainly experienced financial ups and downs in my aviation career, some as a result of my own stupidly or misjudgment, others due to the stupidity or misjudgment of others.

Colin Pearce, on the other hand, has been able to use business aviation as a mechanism for financial success, largely because he has had the economic freedom to do so. I have a good friend who, like Colin Pearce, is a successful full-time contract pilot. He’s an older guy and a retired airline captain, who, unlike many of his fellow airline pilots, made the transition to business aviation well.

A lot of airline guys think that flying is about walking up the stairs and turning left, toward the cockpit, and not thinking about what happens in the cabin. Business aviation is completely different. In business aviation, what goes on in the front of the airplane, “the pilot s–t,” is assumed to be good. It’s what goes on in the back of the airplane that matters, from the temperature of the cabin, to having the right catering and drinks aboard, to what movies are available to watch.

The people that fly in the back of business jets, for the most part, tend to be very demanding; they know what they want, and they’re not used to being told “no.” So having everything go perfectly in the back of the airplane, is what makes a successful flight. Airline folks don’t usually get this. Business aviation folks do. Colin Pearce understands it and as we get further along in his adventures, his understanding of this environment will become increasingly important. As we’ve seen in The Viper Contract, Colin Pearce is a creature of economics – a mercenary pilot as well as a contract pilot. Eventually he’ll have to choose between economics and ethics, and honestly, as the writer, I don’t know where he will come down.