As of May 1, Business Air will have their King Air 250 based at the Bend Airport. After a long and impressive career with Horizon Air for 32 years, Randy Patterson will join our team as captain. What brought him to take this job, at this time in his career—and, what pivotal event at age 16 got him excited about flying is an interesting story. We share it via a recent interview.
Business Air: What does this new assignment mean to you and why did you choose it at this time?
Randy Patterson: My wife and I were already planning to move to Central Oregon and had purchased property. This assignment with Business Air came up while I was considering a new, 4-year commitment with Horizon Air flying their regional E175. Seeing our future in Bend and being able to live in base rather than commuting to Seattle made this a great fit. Also, to be honest, back when I was considering working professionally in aviation there was no way you would be hired by a commercial airline if you wore glasses. I wore glasses. So, thought I would work on the corporate side. Then deregulation happens, and I got a job with Horizon Air.
There’s many aspects that I like about flying corporate. One, is its spontaneity. Because of my seniority, Horizon Air let me either choose a schedule or be in reserves. While in reserves, I loved being on-call. Going here one day and there the next day. I am also looking forward to giving passengers a better experience.
Business Air: Can you share three career highlights that you are most proud of?
Randy: Horizon Air has one of the toughest and top-notch training departments in the regional industry. I am proud of being a product of this training and proud of the evolution of the airplanes I flew. Started with SA227 Metrolner then moved to 37 passenger DH Dash8-100. With this plane, we began flying approaches with heads-up displays, the latest technology at the time. From here, I kept up with avionics and new approaches using GPS and satellite vs. ground-based guidance.
I am also proud of the relationships that I developed with other crew members and management. And judging from my first interactions with the Business Air team—and how impressed I am on their professionalism—I look forward to the same.
Business Air: Seems like you have flown more turboprops in your career. Do you prefer them?
Randy: Yes, what I like most is the responsiveness of their engine. When you ask for more thrust, you get it immediately; when you ask for less, you get it. When flying jets, there’s a spool up and spool down time.
Business Air: Personally, what started you on the path to becoming a pilot? Randy’s response follows:
Had an uncle, who learned to fly. First time in the air with him at age 12 convinced me that I never wanted to do that again. Then at age 16, had another chance to fly with him. Or, was forced to do so as a punishment. Here’s what happened that changed my life, and changed who I was to become:
I had my driving permit while visiting my uncle in Southern California. He let me drive on the freeway if I went with him to his flying lesson. While driving, I felt all grown up dodging a state trooper, who I was certain knew I should not really be driving. Then when my uncle left for his lesson, he gave me a $20 bill to eat at the airport’s café. Deciding hamburgers are too expensive; I chose to drive to a burger joint that I had seen nearby. Thinking my uncle’s flying; he is not going to know. After getting hamburgers, I decided to drive around the airport’s frontage roads. When I got back, my uncle was waiting for me and didn’t look happy.
“Where you been?” he asked.
I said, “Just driving up behind the hangars and went to a hamburger joint.”
“Why,” he asked.
After I explained why he said, “Let’s go!”
I said “Where?” He said, “Up, this is your punishment.”
So then we climbed into what I later learned was a Decathlon airplane, known for their aerobatics.
“Strap this on,” my uncle said. I asked, “What is it.”
He said “A parachute.” “Why?” I asked.
He says, “In case we have to fall out.”
I say with alarm, “Why would we fall out?”
“In case a wing comes off,” he responds.
Next, he started explaining to me what we were going to experience with the G-forces. After the event, I got so excited about flying that I forgot all about my thrill of driving. Setting my career in aviation forward.