HAWAII AT WORK
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Rob Moore spends a lot of time at Honolulu Airport working with either Pacific Air Charters, Corporate Air or Moore Air. Above, Moore last week checked the propeller of a Cessna 208 he flies for Corporate Air, which handles FedEx cargo.
Rider in the sky
Flight instructor and pilot Rob Moore says his office has the best view in the world
Title: Chief pilot
Job: Supervises pilots and flight schedules for Pacific Air Charters, is a pilot for Corporate Air, and gives flight lessons for Moore Air.
Rob Moore found true love in the sky -- not only his several jobs that involve flying, but also his future wife, whom he met while giving her flight lessons.
Moore teaches others how to fly as owner of Moore Air. He also supervises pilot training as chief pilot for Pacific Air Charters. And he is a pilot for Corporate Air, which transports cargo for FedEx between Oahu and the neighbor islands.
Moore first took up flying during the Vietnam War days as an ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) cadet at North Carolina State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and secondary education. He also earned a master's degree in aviation management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, via an extension program while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force.
"I did not become a military pilot," he said, "but I stayed in the military for 26 years, and I was always associated at military flying clubs and would fly and get increased ratings."
Also a graduate of York Suburban High school in Pennsylvania, Moore ended his military career while stationed in Hawaii, in 1995.
"And I immediately got two job offers," he said, "one from the FAA (the Federal Aviation Administration) and one from Corporate Air."
Moore ended up taking the Corporate Air job, he said, because the other one would have been "more administrative." It was also then that he bought several surplus aircraft from the Hickam Wheeler Aero Club, which was closing down for good, to start Moore Air.
About two years ago he signed up as chief pilot for Pacific Air Charters, which has nine pilots and three eight-passenger Cessna 421s.
In 2000, the FAA in Hawaii named Moore the outstanding flight instructor of the year, and in 1998 the Western Pacific region aviation safety counselor of the year.
Moore said he will be marrying next August his former flight student Debbie Stanfield, who is a physician's assistant at Tripler Army Medical Center.
Turning 60 in November, Moore has two adult children by a previous marriage -- son Christopher, 37, and daughter Heather, 34 -- and lives with his dog, Tailspin, in Makakilo.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Moore spent a moment with Jennifer Baldwin, a Moore Air employee who is training to be a pilot.
What does it mean that you are chief pilot for Pacific Air Charters?
Rob Moore: OK. Pacific Air Charters is an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)-approved charter business. And there are three positions always in a commercial airlines operation: There's a director of operations, which is Pat (McNamee); a director of maintenance, which is a guy named (Rob) Szabo, and then a chief pilot, which is me.
My job is to direct all the airplane trips and the pilots -- to schedule all the trips for the airplanes and to schedule the pilots to be assigned to those trips. I also oversee all their training.
It's probably a curse of the industry, but pilots are probably the most regulated individuals I have ever known in any industry. We have to make certain our pilots are always trained. They have to be tested every six months. And the FAA delegated that to me, so I actually accomplish the check rides with the pilots.
Q: A check ride?
A: Basically it's a flight to determine that the pilot is capable of flying in all sorts of conditions, both normal and abnormal.
Q: How many other pilots are there at Pacific Air Charters?
A: We currently have nine, and we're adding about four more.
Q: Over what period of time?
A: In the next few months.
Q: What kinds of aircraft do you pilot?
A: We have Cessna 421s, and also we are looking to acquire a Piper Chieftain.
Q: Do you ferry mostly people or just cargo?
A: Well, we advertise ourselves to carry people, pets and property-- the three Ps.
So we primarily carry people, what we call executive travel, because the aircraft have executive seating in them, with tables and everything, and they're pressurized, meaning we can fly at high altitudes. And we really only fly in the Hawaiian Islands, so the executive can literally drive up to the airport and be in our aircraft in two minutes and off the ground. And we also have pilots available on call. We can be up in the air in 90 minutes, at any time of the day.
For example, we recently moved a hospice patient to one of the islands. We had the medical organ-transplant team call us in the dead of night and say we gotta move now. So we fly out there and wait for the people to take them back.
We tailor our business to fly people and get them around fast. And because of the way TSA (U.S. Transportation Security Administration) regulations are written, they don't have to go through inspections and everything else.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Rob Moore of Pacific Air Charters, Corporate Air and Moore Air, last week said he looked in his log book and realized he's given more than 4,000 hours of flight instruction and helped train more than 40 pilots who have gone on to professional flying careers. Above, Moore, at left, who retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1995 as a colonel, checked out a plane with Kent Comstock, Pacific Air business manager.
You have a couple other jobs, too, don't you?
A: Yes, I do have other jobs. I'm a line pilot and also an instructor pilot for Corporate Air, which is the FedEx feeder that flies interisland.
I'm also the owner and chief instructor for Moore Air, which is an FAA-approved flight school, and also we rent aircraft out to other pilots.
Q: For what reason?
A: For people who are certified pilots and just want to go flying. Essentially it's like Pacific Air Charters, but they are their own pilots.
Q: How do you stay current with FAA expectations?
A: Basically, I'll take a check ride on each of the airplanes I'm certified on every six months, so the FAA personally checks me, and then also, of course, the flight school. I stay pretty current on all the regulatory requirements.
Q: What kind of hours do you put in at Pacific Air Charter?
A: Well, that is sort of on an as-needed basis. I probably put in about four or five hours roughly a day.
And Moore Air, I probably put in, I'm going to say, about five or six hours, and then I also still fly (for Corporate Air). This morning, I was in about 6, and I probably won't leave till about 7 tonight.
Q: So what is your typical day at work then?
A: OK, like this morning -- and I sort of have to jump between different things -- but for Corporate Air, which is the Fed Ex feeder airline who I actually work for, I preflighted my airplane there, then I came in here (Moore Air) and basically started off doing a little of the accounting work I needed to do and some other paperwork.
Then it was probably, by then, about 7:30, and I met with Ken Comstock, who happens to be our business manger for Pacific Air Charters, and we did a joint telephone call with Pat, who happens to be in New Jersey right now, and we reviewed upcoming flights and pilot training status and pilot assignments for those flights.
So basically by then it was about 10 o'clock. So I go out and go to my FedEx aircraft and supervise the loading, and today I flew to Kapalua, West Maui; carried FedEx freight over there. They offloaded it, then loaded freight to come back to Honolulu, Then I landed back here about 2:30.
In a typical afternoon, I would be here to meet new customers and, again, do office work at Moore Air, or I might do a flight check with a Pacific Air Charters pilot if that's needed, or I might do an instructional or flight check with a Moore Air student pilot.
Q: What places do you fly to each day?
A: Corporate Air flies mostly to Lihue, Molokai, Lanai, or Kapalua, and occasionally we might go to Hana.
Do you ever get a bit scared out there when you're over the water and there's no land to be seen in any direction?
A: No. As I tell everyone, the airplane doesn't know whether it's over water or land.
Q: How much do you rely on your instruments versus your own skills and intuition?
A: Well, all the flights that I make with either Corporate Air or Pacific Air Charters we're always on instruments. We're under air traffic control radar coverage, and we're under IFR (instrument flight rules) procedures.
Q: How often do you postpone or call off flights because of bad weather?
A: Probably in the last 12 years I have flown here, maybe once.
Q: Are you that confident?
A: It's probably the training. What you consider bad weather, I don't consider bad weather. It might be raining under low clouds, but you train all the time to fly in what you consider bad weather, and it's just second nature and you're trained to fly that way.
Q: Higher up it's OK then?
A: Well, again, it depends. The highest we fly here is about 10,000 feet. But again, you're training allows you to fly in less-than-ideal conditions, weather-wise.
Q: What would you consider bad weather?
A: Well, when probably the clouds are less than 500 feet above the ground, and the wind is blowing a good 45 knots, and the visibility would be probably less than a mile.
Q: Which it doesn't get that often, right?
A: No it doesn't.
Q: Would you prefer to be flying one of those larger jet aircraft that carry dozens or even hundreds of people?
A: Probably not. The reason is I feel very much connected with my passengers. I see them, I put them on the aircraft and we talk, so it's a very personal experience. With FedEx, of course, it's boxes, and they don't talk. But it's a little more challenging flying (for Corporate Air on behalf of FedEx) because with FedEx I fly by myself. I don't have a copilot, so I stay busy during flights.
Q: Do you ever get bored while you're up there flying a long distance?
A: I have the best office in the world. I really do. I look out my window. I see great scenery. I see whales jumping. You can't beat it. And things change all the time. The clouds change. So it's really neat.