2018 Pilot of the Year

March 5, 2019

At the end of each year, Pinnacle Aviation’s Director of Operations, Trevor Turcott, and Chief Pilot, Todd Pixley, get together to compare notes and select Pinnacle Aviation’s Pilot of the Year. They evaluate annual flight times and number of trips flown. They keep track of client feedback and interview team members from around the company, including team members from; the Charter and Flight Coordination department, the Accounting department, the Maintenance department, as well as, airport line personnel. Their goal is to gather comments from everyone who has working relationships with all of Pinnacle Aviation’s pilots to evaluate professionalism and attitude. All of Pinnacle Aviation’s pilots are professional, and all of Pinnacle Aviation’s pilots are highly trained, competent airmen. Trevor and Todd are looking for the proactive, exceptional customer-service attributes and attitudes that allow Pinnacle Aviation to maintain a high bar for excellence.

Each year, Trevor and Todd face the very difficult challenge of selecting the best of an incredibly competent and highly professional pilot team. For 2018, they found they could not select just one Pilot of the Year – and selected two!

Pinnacle Aviation is proud to announce the 2018 Pilot of the Year awards to Lead Captain Geoff Sims and Lead Captain Ted Keisler.

On February 1st, Trevor and Todd, along with Pinnacle Aviation owner and President Curt Pavlicek presented Captain Sims and Captain Keisler with their Pinnacle Aviation Pilot of the Year Awards for 2018. The presentation took place at the new Volanti restaurant in the recently built Scottsdale Airport Aviation Business Center.

It is a pleasure to introduce and share more information about these two outstanding Pinnacle Aviation Pilots.

 

Lead Captain Sims has over 16,200 total flight hours with 4,879 hours of Citation time. He joined Pinnacle Aviation in March of 2014 to pilot a Citation XLS (N560TW).

We asked Geoff a few questions about his past and thoughts about being a Pinnacle Aviation pilot. Here is what he had to say:

How long have you lived in Arizona?

I moved to the Phoenix metro area from Iowa in 1980.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was tired of subzero days, snow and gray colors for three months out of the year. I visited a high school buddy in Tempe in the middle of winter in 1979 and couldn’t believe how nice it was to pick grapefruit off a tree and wear shorts and sandals in the middle of winter! I flew the first couple thousand hours of my career in the Midwest and finally decided it was time for a change.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

I was 15 years old when I took my first plane ride. By today’s standards a late bloomer. We took a family vacation departing Chicago O’Hare in the

middle of winter to fly to the Caribbean. We rode to the airport with a United Airlines flight crew and they were discussing the weather, etc. Their conversation was fascinating to me. It was crystal clear and super cold that morning and the dawn of day had just started to cast a reddish hue on things. As we approached the airport you could see the tails of the planes sticking up past the terminal buildings and they looked like prehistoric dinosaurs gathered around a watering hole. The whole experience was amazing and that ride to the Chicago airport hooked me.

I received my private pilot license in my senior year of high school and shortly after my 18th birthday I had my instrument rating, commercial license and flight instructor rating and began teaching at the local FBO until I had enough time to start doing Part 135 charter work for them. That started the ball rolling 41 years ago.

What inspires you to set high standards for yourself?

I was fortunate enough to have had an excellent flight instructor who took me from my instrument rating through my instrument instructor rating. I learned from him that it was just as easy to be “plus or minus zero”. I really enjoy people and the concept of team play. My goal is to have everyone who gets on and off the plane to feel like it was the best experience they have had flying…period. That overarching concept is what drives me to go on each flight.

What differentiates Pinnacle Aviation from other aviation management companies?

It is the concept of team play and to an even greater extent the desire to achieve a high level of excellence that I believe makes Pinnacle Aviation stand out from the pack. Curt Pavlicek is committed to making sure that Pinnacle is a first-class operation. We have all been around aviation in some form long enough to know the difference between the talkers and the doers.

It is great to be associated with an organization that strives to be the best in the industry.

Who is your family support?

My wife Cheri and I have one “Chiweenie” (a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix) dog still at home with us. We have a total of five grown children and one grandson. We are proud of them all and are so grateful to be a part of their lives.

What are your hobbies outside of flying?

I still enjoy jogging and will pick up a guitar now and then as well as play golf. What I enjoy most though is the time I have at home with Cheri and hanging out with our kids and our grandson.

Favorite movie?

It’s a little cliché but my favorite aviation movie is “The Right Stuff”.

  

Lead Captain Keisler has almost 6,200 total flight hours with 4,350 hours of jet time including Learjet, Citation Sovereign, and Hawker time. He joined Pinnacle Aviation in May of 2017 to pilot a Sovereign and when that jet sold, Captain Keisler transitioned to pilot a Hawker 800XP (N89WA) already in the Pinnacle Aviation fleet.

 

We asked Ted a few questions about his past and thoughts about being a Pinnacle Aviation pilot. Here is what he had to say:

How long have you lived in Arizona?

My wife, 2 cats, and I moved to the Phoenix area 5 years ago, in June of 2013 from Colorado.

What brought you to Arizona?

Like a lot of people in the Phoenix area, the move was precipitated by the desire to be closer to my wife’s elderly parents.

What motivated you to become a pilot?

My earliest memory of wanting to become a pilot was when I was around 5-6 years old. One of our neighbors was a pilot, Mr. Jones. He was a Captain of an airline (not sure which one). I remember seeing him in his uniform and hat and thinking how cool he looked. Then seeing that he was

home a lot, made good money, and he travelled the world all appealed to me. Somewhere near the same time, I remember going to a five-and-dime with my Mom. She got me a little booklet called “Great Airliners of the World”. I loved that book! I memorized all of the planes in it.

What inspires you to set high standards for yourself?

There are many people that inspire me to set high standards for myself. My Mom and Dad (accountant), my Uncle Sid Dewberry (a business owner), and my Father-in-Law Loy Julius (WWII B26 pilot and later Dentist). They all are part of the Greatest Generation, came from modest means and have worked hard for all they have. They all have taught me the value of hard work, and that anything is achievable if you are willing to put in the time and effort.

What differentiates Pinnacle Aviation from other aviation management companies?

What differentiates Pinnacle is that everyone works together for the common good. Pilots, schedulers, maintenance, management….no one says it’s not my job. I have seen everyone pitch in no matter what their job description is to make a flight happen. Also, management believes in hiring the best. Most if not all of the people I know that have been hired at Pinnacle are from internal recommendations. That is huge!

Who is your family support?

My wife Jane, and our 2 cats. I would not be here (in aviation or Scottsdale) if not for my wife’s constant support and large cattle prod!

What are your hobbies outside of flying?

Hobbies include lifting weights (not near as much as I used to), running (if you want to call it that, swimming laps, shooting sports, and skiing (not so much since leaving Colorado).

Favorite movie?

Favorite aviation movie… two come to mind. Every time these movies come on, I can’t help but watch. Midway, and Pearl Harbor. My favorite planes are WWII military planes. The story lines of both movies are also reason for me to watch. America was brought to its knees, and only through grit and determination did we overcome all odds to win. Life lesson.

 

Congratulations again to Captain Sims and Captain Keisler!

You are both excellent representatives of the professionalism and standards that Pinnacle Aviation constantly strives to achieve.