It’s a pilot’s life for me
At the end of 2020, P&W’s 50,000th PT6 turboprop engine rolled off the production line. To celebrate this milestone, we wanted to highlight the aircraft and operators that take part in telling the PT6 story every day. We launched the #HowDoYouLikeMyPT6 Photo Challenge on Instagram – calling on the nation to show off their PT6-powered aircraft. To honour the participants, we’re sharing some of their flight stories. To kick off the series, meet Gerald, aka @gpnew82.
As the saying goes, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. This is exactly the case for Gerald Paul who knew from the moment he first took to the sky in a Piper aircraft at the tender age of three that his calling was to become a pilot. Now based out of Junction, Colorado, he spends his days flying a PT6A-powered Pilatus PC-12 air ambulance — a career that he thoroughly enjoys and is proud to have.
Although his love for airplanes goes back as long as he can remember, it was that first flight with his father and a family friend that served as the motivator — setting him on his path towards a life in aviation. Growing up, he got to spend time with his uncle who owned several aircraft, and during high school, his aptitude tests even suggested pilot as his most fitting career choice. Laser-focused on his dream, Gerald started taking flying lessons during his first year of university and never looked back.
Knowing that working for a big airline wasn’t necessarily the direction he wanted to take, he took the leap and moved to Alaska with his dog and snowboard in tow. His new home was where the real experience began, and where he truly got his wings flying De Havilland Beavers, Douglas DC-6s and Cessna Caravans to name but a few. As his passion for aviation continued to soar, love was in the air in more ways than one as he met his now-wife while giving her an introductory flying lesson.
These days, his career takes him to places he once only dreamed of flying — over breathtaking landscapes across Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, and landing at some of the most incredible mountain airports in the United States. From Nanwalek, Alaska, to Telluride, Colorado, touching down in his favorite destinations is now all in a day’s work — work that’s fueled by camaraderie and pulling together with his team to help people in need. Whether flying solo or sharing the cockpit with medical staff, he describes it as a rewarding experience unlike any other.
As someone who’s had the privilege to fly a variety of aircraft over the years, his favorite engines include the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, R-985, and of course, the beloved PT6 turboprop. From the sound of flying big radials, to the ease of operation, reliability and simplicity of the PT6, his love for the technology is real.
So what advice would Gerald offer those who are also following their dream and just getting started in a career in aviation? Decide what you want to do in the industry and go for it, but always have a backup plan. “Seek out quality instructors and have high standards, be professional, and strive to exhibit excellent airmanship,” he says. While aviation can be unforgiving, simply learn to have good judgement, be willing to say no, and always stand up for what’s right, and what’s safe.
Staying true to this advice has led Gerald to where he is today, describing his career in a word as “fulfilling”. He knows that it’s a true blessing to be able to do something you truly love, and we couldn’t agree more.
Find him on Instagram via @gpnew82.