What A Long and Winding Road It’s Been: The Story of A Honeywell Pilot

May 3, 2017 | Author: Steve Cirino

Working for Honeywell as a program technical pilot is the icing on the cake for my career. In this role, I get to try out the latest technologies that make flying safer, more efficient and comfortable for pilots and passengers, My journey has spanned 43 years.

I grew up in northeast Ohio, the home of cold winters and Tim Conway (the comedian). We are both from Willoughby, Ohio. Remember the movie “A Christmas Story?” Well, they filmed it there.

My father told me to learn a skill before I got out of school, so I choose auto mechanics. Little did I know that someday this would help me get certified to work on aircraft by obtaining my Airframe and Power Plant (A&P) Rating.

I remember my high school teacher explaining how he worked on B-24 Bombers in the Pacific during World War II. Because of his great stories and a “Pathfinder” of a brother, I joined an aviation club my junior year. Heck I couldn’t even spell aviation but I was on my way.

After graduation there were no jobs, so I thought I’d give the airport a try and found a job fueling airplanes. At this time I decided to finish my pilot’s license and maybe become a Professional Pilot. I can still remember my first solo as a student what a thrill, and another time that I forgot to eat lunch and got airsick on my fifth lesson, Wow, how was I ever going to be a pilot if I got airsick?

I made it through and thanks to all the great pilots I came in contact with I became a flight instructor. I started flight instructing at the age of 19 in 1977. What a hoot.

Back then there were more pilots out of work than politicians and Unlike today, an aspiring pilot had to really earn his/her flight time by instructing for a few years until the economy and the demand made room for us. If you survived two years of students desperately trying to kill you, you would make it as an Aviator. These years included cold mornings when I daily brushed snow off the wings and preheated the engine before every start.

I did this for a year and a half then secured my first real job flying a King Air turboprop for the next six months. In 1979 I really lucked out and was hired by a local firm with a Citation Jet and had my first jet captain job at the age of 21. How cool is that! I flew for this company for about three years, then the economy had a downturn and the jet was the first to go.

In 1983 the economy rebounded and I was again flying, this time for The Sherwin Williams Company. What a great flight department, the Chief Pilot Dale Hood was my greatest mentor, “If you could get a refrigerator in the air Dale could land it safely”. We flew around the world and back in a Rockwell Westwind Jet . Very cool stuff. We flew to every airport in America with a runway of 4000 feet in length or greater. There certainly were a lot or Brake and tire Changes in those days!

I then flew for Presidential Airlines flying the BAE146, now this was fun but only lasted three months until they went out of business. Then I flew for a well-known Insurance company in Indianapolis, IN who went out of business in six months. Things were not looking very good.

Then I got really lucky and was hired in Southern California by Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). I started on the British Aerospace 146 and saw every California town known to man. Then USAir purchased us and back to Pittsburgh it was. I spent 20 years flying the DC-9, MD-80, Boeing®737 and the Airbus®. My favorite period was when I was based out of LaGuardia Airport in New York. I ended up there for two years and loved it. I did a lot of Jogging around Shea Stadium in those days.

While flying for USAir I had the opportunity to fly my high school teacher, I decided to take him to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the airshow. That was the thrill of my flying career. What a huge payback. Thank you Mr. Majewski for serving in the Pacific and for saving me from the boredom of an everyday job.

After 20 years at the airlines I left and started my own business delivering Micro (lite) Jets for Eclipse, Embraer and Cessna. Now this was fun! I met a lot of owner-operators and Captains of Industry. Flying Single Pilot Jets to remote places like Yellowknife and Prudhoe Bay really made me “Pay Attention” to what was going on around me. I remember landing at a very small airport on a beautiful island in New Brunswick, Canada and having a real live “Bush Pilot” compliment me on my flying technique. Some of our clients included John Travolta, Jeff Pino (President of Sikorsky Helicopters) and U-Haul International.

When my wife and I decided to move to the Phoenix area and I stumbled across this position with Honeywell which got me back into the books.

In about two years at my position as program pilot with Honeywell I’ve learned more about navigation, both past and present, than I had accumulated in my over 40 years of flying experience. Being exposed to latest in technologies and the resources that conceptualize these ideas into working systems and products is pretty cool stuff.

My job allows me to mix my Airline and Business jet experience with the latest in aviation technology. My experience allows me to draw parallels with legacy systems and the new technologies to help pilots and engineers troubleshoot design problems as we work together to create the finest Aerospace Technologies in the world! I work alongside the new “Giants of Industry” Engineers, Designers, Technicians and my colleagues who have graciously tutored the “Old Guy”.

Thank You Honeywell!

Steve Cirino

Steve Cirino

Program Pilot, Flight Technical Services

Contact Information