Few have the impressive background that our Chief Pilot, Kenneth S. Edmondson has. Spending 23 years in the military and four years in commercial aviation, he brings a wealth of knowledge and discipline to every assignment and everyday flight operations for Business Air, both in the air and on the ground.
Recently, we had the chance to sit down with him and learn more about his diverse career—especially, his military experience. We learned that his favorite job while in the military was serving as Chief Pilot and head of flight operations for the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey for the Defense Intelligence Agency. We also learned that his favorite aircraft is the UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter because its capabilities are as real as the Hollywood movies. Interview follows:
Business Air – How has your military experience benefited you both professionally and personally?
Ken S. Edmondson – Professionally, the military ingrained in me an attention to detail and a discipline that results in the meticulous planning and execution of flights. It also cultivated in me early on how to thrive on stress; how to compartmentalize events and be extremely focused. This discipline also carries over allowing me always to prioritize what is best for our clients.
Having previous experience managing the flight department at the US Embassy in Turkey also taught me other skills—particularly interpersonal skills—needed to manage personnel effectively. I had a core set of pilots from all branches of service each with different regulations requiring me to adjust quickly and be flexible while reporting to yet another branch of government.
BA – What’s your favorite aircraft to fly and why?
Ken – The UH-60 Black Hawk is hands down the most capable aircraft I have ever flown. Having tremendous diversity, it can fly in the clouds, carry artillery to a remote location, and even strap a zodiac raft underneath. Seriously, what you see in Hollywood movies, this aircraft can do. It was not uncommon to fly flights in IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions), sling-load howitzers, move troops in full combat gear, and have jumpers depart in flight, all in the span of a few days!
BA – While serving as instructor pilot for the UH-60 Black Hawk flown in combat, what was the most consistent advice you gave?
Ken – I was fortunate to serve at the operator level as instructor and also as an instructor to instructor pilots as well. For junior aviators, I always tried to impress upon them that their abilities had to match the capabilities of their equipment. Look ahead, plan and don’t get “boxed in”…ever. For all aviators, I would teach situational awareness and give them the tools to see each situation early on and break the chain of events, e.g., leave yourself a way out of a canyon, don’t let the first seven bullets lead you down a corridor that could cause a catastrophe accident.
BA – With the sophisticated technology in aircraft today, why is your comprehensive experience in geography, topography and weather conditions still so important?
Ken – These are the core principals of aviation that have existed for more than 100 years. It is incredibly important to stay sharp on these skills passing them on to others allows for contingency operations when those technologies are unavailable or inoperable.
BA – Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ken – I encourage readers to learn more about organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, along with other countless groups who honor and assist those who served and the families that supported them.
It has been more than 14 years since America entered a wartime posture. Now our veterans are coming home and can use everyone’s support. Because none of the opportunities we have in this great country could exist without the selfless service of our military and their families.
Black Hawk image courtesy of US Army PAO