My Airline Career: Jeff Drees, CCO
With the retirement of Bruce Longacre last month, I have come to realize that I am now the longest tenured employee at Ameriflight. Little did I know that when I started as a PA32R line pilot in February of 1984 I would be blogging to you in 2016.
My first exposure to Ameriflight (California Air Charter back then) was from a good friend who was a pilot there. I was flying in the Caribbean and he was flying to Needles, CA Monday through Friday. We had been roommates at UCLA and had ventured back to North Dakota together to attend UND and get our flight credentials and education, so we always kept in touch. He would tell me about his job all the time. He flew Monday through Friday, the company gave him a car and hotel room and he was free all afternoon to play golf or sleep. As he would say, “It was the job of the century.” I was intrigued and getting island fever, so I decided to give Cal Air a shot. I showed up at the headquarters in Burbank, met the receptionist, and told her I wanted to apply for a pilot position. She looked me up and down and said, “Oh we would love to have you, but you might want to cut your hair and shave your beard first.” Long story short, I got hired, the President told me to cut my hair and shave my beard, and a career was born.
After training, I was assigned to route 103. Check out the routing and the day I had in Blythe: Burbank-Riverside-Yucca Valley-29Palms-Blythe-29Palms-Yucca Valley-Riverside-El Monte-Hawthorne-Burbank. In Blythe, I would make about 15 deliveries – Banks, furniture stores, Thrifties, Savings and Loans among them. Friday night I had the keys to the bank to let myself in and pick up the bank bag. How’s that for a route! I loved it!!
My career at Cal Air/Ameriflight has taken me from line pilot to check airman ACP to operations. Then I went into marketing sales and even became an owner of Ameriflight. All of these things led up to my current position of Chief Commercial Officer. What a ride! Almost 33 years and still going strong. I have seen a lot of great people come and go. I could write pages of ups and downs and employee stories of which I will share from time to time. Some I can’t repeat, but most I can.
I look forward to a few more years with you all and continuing to help Ameriflight go Above and Beyond! Peace for now.
Chief Commercial Officer of Ameriflight