One of Schubach Aviation’s veteran team members, chief pilot Rick Cuda joined our team in 2008 and has nearly 30-years of experience and more than 12,000 flight hours to his name. Day-to-day he leads a team of 20 pilots and is actively involved in all things related to safety, giving our clients valuable peace of mind when they fly Schubach. To better get to know Rick, read on for our Q&A:
1. Q: What does a ‘day in the life’ of a Chief Pilot look like?
A: There’s really no typical day- everyday is different, but it mainly depends on whether I’m in the office or up in the air. Office days are focused on the administrative tasks related to managing our team of 20 pilots- this can include acting as a liaison between our management team and the pilot staff, managing pilots’ training and making sure they’re up-to-speed on FAA-related directives. Otherwise, I spend three to four days per week flying our clients as comfortably and safely as possible.
2. Q: Leading a team of 20 pilots at Schubach Aviation, how do you foster a safety-first company culture?
A: It all starts with the interview process, candidates are vetted based on FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and company criteria to ensure they meet our high performance standards. Beyond that, we don’t believe in cutting corners and my door is always open (my phone is always on, too!) should questions or concerns arise. Our company culture is also shaped by our experienced team (Safety Officer Gerald Ward and Director of Operations Daniel Hulen).
3. Q: What sets Schubach Aviation (and its pilots) apart from other on-demand charter operators?
A: Schubach Aviation has served Southern California (and beyond) for more than 25 years, so we have credibility. We know our clients well- our service is personalized and our charter staff always goes above and beyond to make them as comfortable as possible.
For example, we have a longtime client that only drinks TaB soda [the cult-favorite ‘original’ diet soda]- which was discontinued in 1994. Knowing this, we make sure to source it when he’s on the schedule.
4. Q: What is your favorite flight destination?
A: Many of my favorite destinations are in mountainous regions, like Vancouver, Canada. But I also enjoy flying into Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Napa Valley, CA, which I do often.
5. Q: Tell me about your most memorable flight?
A: One flight that comes to mind involved flying into Teterboro Airport (New Jersey) in a smaller plane. It’s a notoriously busy airspace, and it was winter and very windy. The jet was equipped with an external camera so the client was able to watch the ‘exciting’ landing. He later let me know how much he had enjoyed watching it and how impressed he was.
6. Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: No two days are ever the same. Some days I may fly out of San Diego after breakfast and be home by dinner- it keeps things interesting and makes great fodder for dinner party conversation.
7. Q: What is your favorite aircraft to fly and why?
A: The Gulfstream 200 or G200 is a favorite. Some pilots may find it challenging, but I enjoy that it keeps you on your toes and handles exceptionally. And it’s dependable. it has a great cabin, too.
8. Q: Do you have any words of wisdom/insight for those that fly private?
A: Communication is key. By giving your jet charter operator as much information as possible related to you and your trip, you give us the opportunity to go the extra mile- birthdays, pet comforts, etc.. We take pleasure in being able to exceed our client’s expectations.
9. Q: What do you like most about flying private (vs. commercial)?
A: I liken it to taking the bus versus a limo. When flying private, the experience caters to your preferences- not 200+ other passengers.
10. Q: What is your favorite thing/s to do to make Schubach Aviation clients feel at ease?
A: I like to be extra communicative. I brief them upon arrival, sharing the details of the trip ahead and if we anticipate any weather, etc. I find that is especially helpful when someone is apprehensive about flying.
11. Q: Where did you last fly to?
A: I’m currently in Scottsdale, Arizona.