A Journey from the African Bush to AirGO
Florent's flightpath to becoming an AirGO pilot was exciting and a bit unconventional. Today, he has a fulfilling career.
It all started when an 8-year-old set his eyes on the Concorde for the first time. But Florent's flightpath to becoming an AirGO pilot took him from gliders and piloting Cessna planes in the African Bush, to becoming a contract pilot in Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East before settling into the captain’s seat of one of AirGO's business jets.
While his friends took positions and began their careers in conventional ways, a then young 25-year-old Florent took a more adventurous approach. “I booked a one-way ticket to Africa and searched for a job,” Florent recounts. “Once I arrived in Botswana, I hitchhiked through the Kalahari Desert and finally landed a bush pilot job—my first aviation job, in Namibia.”
That experience lasted a bit more than two years. “I left the African Bush and headed to the Middle East (and elsewhere in Africa) with my flights,” Florent says. “I was mainly flying oil executives into and around the Sahara; and tactical flights into Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.”
AirGO came into Florent’s life in 2014. Now in his thirties, he and his new family wanted to return to Europe and have more of a steady-state life. “I love working for AirGO,” Florent says, adding that AirGO makes him feel like he is not only working for a passionate company but like he is part of a family. “There is tremendous team spirit at AirGO,” he says. “The caliber and diversity of operations we do is what is most attractive to me.”
Florent also likes the personalized attention AirGO employees receive from the top. “They truly care about us as people and what we have going on in our lives,” he adds. “If, for example, we need some personal unplanned leave time, they will work with us—they understand the importance of our personal lives as much as our professional lives.”
Another trait of AirGO that is attractive to Florent is that the company is very customer-focused. “We personalize our service, ensuring we provide a flight experience that our clients remember and appreciate,” he says. AirGO also has a strong relationship with its caterers and vendors. “This enables us to make sure our passengers get exactly what they want instead of choosing from a list of options. I remember in one instance a client wanted a specific type of Sushi for the flight and we were able to deliver.”
While customer service and the personal touch is important to Florent, the aircraft he commands is also critical. “I was attracted to the Avanti aircraft because it’s a great aircraft…it’s a jet that flies like a turboprop and it reminds me of my African Bush flying days,” Florent says. “There is no match in aerodynamics of this aircraft—its sleek, gets tremendous lift, with more than 25% less fuel consumption and it also has a bigger cabin than other business jets of its category.”
On average, Florent flies seven days on and seven days off. “I appreciate the flexibility of my schedule that AirGO provides me - that many other business aviation companies can not - because I am able to spend quality time with my family,” he says. “Other pilots in our company fly more, but AirGO cares and works with us to establish a balanced schedule that works for all involved.”
Having flown a variety of aircraft, the agility of the Avanti aircraft makes it very exciting to fly. “There are airports that - because of the turboprop element - we are able to get into and out of that I would not be able to if I was flying other business aircraft,” Florent says.
He adds that one of the most unique and exciting European destinations he has flown into or out of is St. Moritz because of its challenging mountainous terrain. Florent adds that it reminds him of his time flying around the Afghan Himalayas. “Flying into large international airports is also exciting because we share the space with big commercial jets like we do in London when we fly into and out of London City, Lutton and Stansted,” he says.
“We do work hard, but we also enjoy our work and I am fortunate to have the career and life that I have now with my family back in Europe and with AirGO.”