Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do:
My name is Edward Chudleigh, and I am a Pilot flying the Legacy 500. I have recently been promoted to Captain. My job is to plan and fly the routes that we are scheduled each week along with a First Officer or another Captain. We fly passengers all over the world. I am responsible for the safe conduct of each flight that is assigned to me and my crew. I accept each flight and ensure the aircraft is serviceable for flight by checking the relevant documents and pre-flight checks. I then sign the aircraft tech log to say it’s fit for service. We ensure all our customers’ needs are met, whether it be dietary requirements, special occasions, or any mobility issues. Centreline’s service sets us apart, right from when we greet the passengers in the terminal to shaking their hand before they step into the car on the other end. As well as flying the aircraft to the highest safety standards and ensuring that it is efficient, a huge part of the job is also customer service.
How did you get into Aviation, and why did you choose to become a pilot?
I grew up near Old Sarum Airfield and Boscombe Down, where I would see aircraft from a very early age. I worked at Old Sarum and learned to fly there when I was 17. I then continued flying with the Royal Airforce whilst at university in the University Air Squadron flying the Bulldog. Before joining Centreline, I was a Design Manager at Dyson, designing products and leading teams of engineers for 11 years. I also lived in China for two years. I continue to build and design machines and robots in my spare time. After my time at Dyson, I decided that I still wanted to pursue my love of flying and I completed my ATPL exams and multi-engine instrument rating whilst working at Dyson. I then joined Centreline to fly the CJ2 aircraft. I flew that for around three years before transitioning onto the Legacy 500, which is what I fly now. I became a Pilot because I have a love for how things work, and an aircraft really is up there at the cutting edge of innovation and engineering. I also love to travel. In short, as jobs go, it probably has the best view in the world.
What aircraft do you enjoy flying the most and why?
I love flying the Legacy 500 because of its fantastic systems and fly-by-wire technology. It provides so much information, making decision-making much easier and robust. During my time at the University Air Squadron, I got to fly the shorts Tucano, which was an amazing experience, learning to dog fight, fly in formation and navigating at a low level.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
No two days are the same. Different weather conditions, airports and passengers make each job unique. I love the views you get to see. They are sometimes completely extraordinary. The job is very varied, which allows us to visit some amazing locations. I also work with some fantastic people, many of whom have become close friends and mentors.
What is a flying day like for you?
It depends, but it usually starts a day or so before by checking the airport, and its facilities, then I check the weather the day before and start liaising with the crew assigned for the trip or trips ahead. The day begins with us coming to the airport around an hour and a half before departure so that we can brief the weather, route, fuel, notams and any special considerations for the day. There is quite a long list of considerations. We then do our pre-flight checks and ensure the aircraft is fully serviceable. There is quite a lot to discuss and work out, including the mass and balance, route, weather at the destination, alternate and en route. Sometimes there can be special passenger requirements that can take some intricate planning.
What are some of the most memorable flights you’ve had?
I once had to practice a dog fight over the Scottish Highlands, which involved flying high speed over a lake at a very low level, chasing another aircraft (Tucano) up the side of a mountain, and then rolling it inverted at the peak to come back down the other side. During the roll over the peak, there were two mountaineers that had climbed the summit. When I looked out of the canopy whilst upside down, they were waving at us. One guy’s eyes were blue, and the others were brown…… we were rather close!
I also got to fly during the total eclipse, which was amazing, going from full sunlight to complete darkness in seconds. You could see the darkness racing across the clouds towards you. And then the opposite when it finished with the sunlight coming towards you.
Do you have a favourite country to fly to?
I love flying to Portugal. My favourite destination is Faro. It has a wonderful coastline, and you get to fly along part of it prior to landing. If we get the time down route, sometimes we get to visit the beautiful islands it has. The seafood is fantastic, as are the people. We fly to many varied and strange locations, which makes the job very interesting. Unlike airlines, we often go to a location we have never been to before.
What advice would you give to an aspiring pilot?
It takes time and a lot of work. It can also cost a lot of money! So be patient and give it all you’ve got. Be prepared to sacrifice a lot of everything. You have to really want to do it and in no half measures. There is a lot to learn, and it never stops even when you transition to fling on the line. You learn new things every day. It is one of the most rewarding achievements and processes I have ever been through. It is quite simply a job like no other.