In their Own Words: Pilot Testimonials

PlaneSense, Inc. seeks pilots with varying backgrounds and experience, including those who are new to the field, or retired from the military or commercial airlines. We are proud to work with talented, hardworking pilots who provide stellar customer service every single day. Meet our team and hear why they enjoy flying for the PlaneSense® fractional program!

Matt Sesma-French
Captain, PC-12
With PlaneSense, Inc. since 2021

The schedule was a big part of coming to PlaneSense. I came from working aerial survey, where I didn’t have a set schedule and flew whenever the weather was good, so I was only home when the weather was bad. As a newlywed at the time, I needed stability, and the set schedule was exactly what I was looking for.  

PlaneSense is absolutely a great place to work, and I am sure to tell everyone that I meet the same thing! The company is small enough that it feels personal, and you always know who you are speaking to whenever anything comes up.  

I have a degree in Aviation Science and did an internship with American Airlines during college in 2016. I began flying as a career in 2019 as a survey pilot in Kansas City, where I was later relocated to Philadelphia, and stayed until 2021 when I moved over to PlaneSense. I have been here for 18+ months and upgraded to PIC after one year.  

PlaneSense is a community, not just a workplace. I enjoy knowing most of my coworkers by name and appreciate it when leadership knows who I am and stops me in the hallway to say hello.  

I don’t feel pressured to do anything unsafe. I know that my decisions will be backed up by my superiors if I am able to reasonably justify anything that I am doing. Having the freedom to make my own decisions is a great perk of the job.  

I like knowing my exact days off. Being able to plan events months in advance greatly increases my QOL.  

I enjoy going to new places. I can’t think of a week where I didn’t go to at least one new airport. Going to new and unique places each week keeps the job fun and interesting.  

I had the opportunity to fly into Burning Man last August in Black Rock City, NV. Flying into a makeshift airport in the desert was the most unique flying experience that I have ever had! On a regular basis, I think Bar Harbor, Maine is my favorite airport to fly into.  

Chicago O’Hare is the most challenging that I have seen. Due to the high volume of traffic and how quickly everything happens, it definitely keeps you on your toes. 

The PC-12 is so fun. It is forgiving, versatile, and all of our planes are quite new. Flying the NGX has been a highlight of my career.  

As pilots, we are the face of the company that the owners and passengers see each time they fly. We have to be able to fly safely and brief appropriately, in addition to being able to break difficult news at times, as well. Reading the room is a big part of it and making sure that you are not over-sharing, but still touching on key points and making the owner feel heard and appreciated.


Brian Chaulk
Captain, PC-12
With PlaneSense, Inc. since 2020

To someone looking at coming to PSI I would say, if you want a 9-5 job then this is not the place for you. If you want to come to work and go to the same places every single time, then PSI is not the place for you. This job is for the person who takes pride in their work and wants to finish every day knowing their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

I have been at PSI for over three years now because nowhere in aviation will you ever get the chance to do what we do. You will never get that level of adventure that we do.

There is no other company that I have ever worked for with a culture like ours. We have maintained that small company feel through our growth, and it shows. Most days coming into work feels more like going to hang out with friends than it does a job.

It would be impossible to pinpoint the one individual thing it is about PlaneSense that keeps you coming to work every day because it’s not a thing, it’s the atmosphere that everyone worked hard to create.


Elizabeth Cook
Captain, PC-12
With PlaneSense, Inc. since 2021

Ironically, Covid brought me to PlaneSense. I had an entirely different plan for my aviation career when Covid hit, and that plan was almost instantly vaporized. Options were slim, and a knew a couple of people who had started at PlaneSense, so I decided to take a closer look.

There are a lot of reasons: the culture, the type of flying we do, the airplane itself…I could go on. I look forward to coming to work every week, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Talk to the people who work here. Ask questions, be curious. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, you’ll know very quickly. We work hard, so you must love what you do every day.

Be prepared to be flexible. The path to where you want to be is never straightforward. There will be plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and even setbacks, and you may discover along the way that what you thought you wanted isn’t what you wanted at all. Keep an open mind, and just keep moving forward. Enjoy the journey.

I started flying as a hobby in 2015 shortly after my father passed away. At the time, my goal was to earn my private certificate and buy a Piper Cub. However, once I started, I couldn’t stop, so I progressed through my instrument, commercial and CFI over the next few years. In 2019, I quit my full-time job at an IT market research firm to flight instruct full time, which is both the scariest and best decision I ever made. Covid created a big setback, but I earned my CFII in 2020 and kept instructing independently to build time. In summer 2021 I got the call from PlaneSense and haven’t looked back!

I don’t have much experience with aviation safety outside of PlaneSense, but one of the things that’s resonated with me is that management always has our backs. The few times I’ve had to call MPOD about an issue, I’ve always been told to just do what I’m comfortable with, and if I’m not comfortable, don’t do it. I think that speaks volumes. Of course, we want to get the job done, but getting the job done safely is our first priority, and I think that’s expressed and enforced by what we see from management.

We’re spoiled by the airplane. It’s really nice to be flying new, modern airplanes, and that’s a huge benefit!

I’m not sure I can put my finger on specifically what it is about the culture that I like, but it feels so much like a family. The pilots aren’t just numbers, we are known as individuals. I’ve made some fantastic friends during my time at the company, and I have a list of people I would really like to fly with (or fly with again). I suspect that the culture is going to be challenging to preserve as we continue growing, but it’s one of the best parts about the company.

The view is much better than cubicle walls!

The close-knit family aspect. Crews interact with one another both in PSM and on the road, and I, at least, enjoy running into other crews during the week and comparing and contrasting how things are going and our experiences. It truly feels like it’s a company of people who care about each other.

It’s predictable. I know a year out whether I am working on a specific day or not, so it makes it easier to plan around. Being away from home for 7 days can sometimes be tough, but the 7 days at home at the end of it are pretty nice. Plus, when vacation gets thrown in, it’s a full 3 weeks off.

The relative autonomy of it: we get an airplane and a schedule, and the rest is up to us. I really like seeing my day as a challenge, and it’s up to me to meet it.

That’s a tough question to answer. There are so many that are unique, but one of the things I love is bringing the airplane into a smaller airport that has a strong aviation community. It usually gets a lot of attention, and if there are any kids around and if we have time, I love letting them take a look at the airplane and answering questions. Places like EZF and JGG come to mind, and I’d also give my right arm to be able to bring the 12 into 6B6, the airport where I learned to fly.

Elk River in North Carolina comes to mind, as does Aspen, Colorado. But each airport has its unique challenges, whether it’s terrain, a high volume of training activity, a busy Bravo airport, tricky approaches, etc. Every destination is different, even if you’re headed there multiple times in the same day. It’s part of what makes the job interesting.

The PC12 is a ridiculously capable airplane. There’s not a lot that it can’t do, and it’s so much fun to fly. It’s an easy and forgiving plane to learn, and we get the privilege of taking it into some pretty unique airports where other similar aircraft may not be able to go.

I’ve had some really inspiring mentors here that I will always credit with having a hand in my success here at the company. I think that, more than anything else is the most memorable part of my experience here. I’ve definitely had fun overnights as well – Charleston, SC is at the top of the list – but it’s the people more than anything that make the experiences what they are.

I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical week! Our schedule is always changing, and sometimes when you wake up in the morning you have no idea where you’ll be going to sleep that night. Every week is an adventure, and that’s one of the things I love about this job.

We are the face of the company to our owners and passengers. It’s up to us to make a good first impression when we meet them in the FBO and leave them with a lasting sense of being cared for when we bring them to their destination. It could be as simple as asking how their day is going, or making sure we have treats for their dogs, but also working with the FOC to arrange transportation alternatives if something goes wrong or we need to divert due to weather. I think the biggest thing that we do with regard to customer service is making sure our owners feel seen and heard and cared for throughout the entire process.


Sage Foster
Captain, PC-12
First Officer, PC-24
With PlaneSense, Inc. since September 2016

I was looking for a flying job that would bring me as much adventure as possible! I got into flying with my dad. He was a bush pilot. Flying was always as much an adventure as it was a way to get a job done. My hopes were to fly for a company that would be fun to fly for, but as I built my hours it seemed like everyone was talking only about the airlines. So, I started to settle for that lifestyle just to make a paycheck. Then I found out about PlaneSense. I didn’t know much about it, but it sounded like a good company that did diverse flying. I applied and got the interview. After interviewing, touring the facility, and talking to PlaneSense pilots about what type of flying they were doing, I was so excited and desperately wanted to be part of the organization! Luckily, I got a call back and it’s all history after that.

After just a few months flying with the company and going to a new airport every day, I still couldn’t believe it. I thought there’s no way that this is going to last. This is too much fun! But year after year, I continue to rack up amazing trips and overnights, and was also surprised with how down to earth and nice our owners can be! It’s fun getting them to their destinations. You never know if you’re taking them to Wall Street or picking them up to take them on a family vacation up in the mountains! I’ve enjoyed the culture here at PlaneSense. You feel much more like family then you feel like your boss looking over you! Everyone is working for the same common goal, and after not too long, you will know almost everybody here. If you build a good reputation, it doesn’t go unnoticed! Coming from a family of entrepreneurs running our own businesses, I’ve never wanted to feel like a number, and I have never felt like that here at PlaneSense! One great example was when my wife went into labor, and I was on the road flying for the cycle when my wife called and told me. I immediately called my chief pilot and asked him what to do. Without any hesitation, once he realized it was much too far to drive in a decent amount of time, he said take the airplane. You and your First Officer go. We flew back to Daytona, where they had a rental car waiting for me and I was able to make it to the hospital to see my son born! Thanks to PlaneSense I didn’t miss out on the most important day in my life!

And now, with the new schedule, and all the extra pay and quality of life improvements, this has never been a better place to fly!


Chris Cartwright
Captain, PC-12
With PlaneSense, Inc. since 2017

My five and a half years working as a pilot for PlaneSense has been a fantastic experience. Between the strong safety culture and diverse types of flying that we do, it really is a great place to work. But what stands out most is how they take care of us as employees. In January of 2023, my wife and daughter were involved in a car wreck while leaving our home in South Carolina to pick me up in Charlotte. I was still conducting flights when I got the news. The chief pilot approved me to fly the plane to an airport close to the hospital and got me a rental car, turning what would have been an almost two-hour commute into a 30-minute ride to the ER. Fortunately, they were not seriously hurt, but it was incredible to see how much the PlaneSense family went above and beyond in our time of crisis. It’s experiences like that which make it hard to consider working anywhere else!


Brandon Leonard
Captain, PC-12
With PlaneSense, Inc. since 2022

It is difficult to describe the vast difference between general aviation and the first true commercial flying position. I had been looking for a change from flight instructing when I discovered PlaneSense. The hiring and training process was seamless, easy to understand, and catered to those, like me, who had zero turbine aircraft flying experience. I feel as though it is the best transition to learning what CRM and a professional flight deck feels like, without being so overwhelmed with the complexities of flying larger aircraft. And not to mention the absolute blast the PC-12 is to fly! I have enjoyed my time thus far and look forward to enjoying travelling while on the job, and off.


Kelsey Ten Hoeve
Captain, Instructor Pilot, Check Airman

I saw PlaneSense as a huge opportunity to make my wish of staying in Florida (and not commuting, like at a regional airline) a reality. I went up to the main headquarters in Portsmouth, NH for an interview and was amazed by how nice the facility was and how kind everyone was that I came in contact with. I remember at the end of my interview I asked the panel interviewing me why they liked working for PlaneSense and the answer was unanimously that PlaneSense coworkers felt more like family. That answer sealed the deal and I knew that this was the company I was going to work for.

As a first officer I was able to learn from each person I flew with, whether it was about the airplane, weather, or customer interaction. The longer I was at PlaneSense the more I realized how well-rounded our pilots are and how each and every one of them is focused on accomplishing the job handed to them with the utmost safety. The culture of the pilot group is amazing. It made my decision to stay and become a captain easy because I knew the company would stand behind me and my decisions. I am grateful to work with such a great group of people who truly care about each other.

No day flying here is ever the same, which is very exciting. I love the diversity of airports we go to. On any given day we can be at our shortest runway of around 1900 feet or a major airport like JFK or BOS. It is amazing to see how versatile our aircraft really is. In 2018 I went to 188 different airports and in my four years at PlaneSense I still go to at least one new airport a week. I would not have had this type of experience anywhere else.

Every day at PlaneSense is an adventure and I look forward to what is next.


Dan Winkler

I started flying when I was 14 and got my private pilot license at 18. I discovered PlaneSense flying in the Bahamas. I crossed paths with the aircraft in my travels and always spoke with the crews and asked them about the work they did. Always were the people pleasant and the equipment clean.

This is the best flying job I have been involved with. PlaneSense is a strong company which has weathered hard economic times and has very good benefits and a family comradeship. This is ultimately what made up my mind. PlaneSense has created an ideal environment that is continually entertaining feed-back from its pilots on ways to possibly improve. Planesense crews have a tremendous support group that makes the job here the easiest I have ever had.

From assistance getting to work on day one to getting home on day eight, FOC has the crews back. Maintenance is an area most companies fall short on. The maintenance team at PlaneSense continually watches over this fleet and its pilots to supply safe clean and reliable equipment; a huge comfort as a pilot. Without all of the behind the scenes work my job would be a nightmare. I came from a single pilot operation where none of the above referenced support existed except maintenance, I had to do all of this on my own.

It takes that perspective to respect what PlaneSense offers. Advice for Captains considering joining Planesense: This is a job that offers respect to its pilots, the training, maintenance, and office support are like no other. Crew members are well-trained and capable pilots you can trust and rely on. The variety of airports we travel to make for interesting flying. It’s also an opportunity to be a hands-on flying pilot rather than just a button pusher. The atmosphere within the company is everyone pulling in the same direction toward a common goal from the owner to the last employee.


Steve Jacques
Retired, commercial airlines
With PlaneSense, Inc. since September 2015

“I was not looking for just a flying job. In fact, PlaneSense was the only flying job that I applied for. I was primarily looking for a position in aviation. I wanted to continue to be “part of a team.” The thought of hanging up my uniform on the last day of service, and lounging on the deck with an iced tea appealed to me… for about two tenths of a second. My criteria for determining a company’s desirability is weighted heavily on the personality/behavior/likability of the people who work for the company. Also, for a flying job, the mindset of management, concerning AC maintenance and safety is also heavily weighted. I would tell prospective retirees that PlaneSense scores high in both of these areas. When the captain makes a final determination based on safety (to fly or not to fly), the CP’s office, and/or maintenance does not second guess his/her decision.

Flying for PSI allows one to get back to a more fundamental form of flying, which is lost to a great degree in the airline flying arena. We all started “flying the fundamentals” years (decades) ago, and it is enjoyable to be able to fly smaller airplanes into smaller, and sometimes more challenging airfields.”


Russ Hodgkins
Retired, USAF
Captain and assistant Director of Safety
With PlaneSense, Inc. since April 2011

“One of the most surprising things I learned when I started looking at civilian flying jobs was how backward many companies were with regards to safety. The strong military safety culture was something I had helped nurture and I saw the positive results it created. I have felt that some in the industry might view ex-military pilots as being too safety conscious. You’ll find the opposite here at PlaneSense. The company has an excellent safety culture, which starts at the top and goes down to all the line employees in the company. I have never been forced to make a flight or take a bad airplane.

It’s an honest airplane that you really fly, as opposed to letting a computer fly. It’s reliable, has good legs, can get in and out of some incredibly short runways, and cruise up in the Jet Routes at a surprisingly fast speed. As for the mission, the best way to describe it is “every day is different.” Our flying is dictated by the desires of our clients, so on any given day you may find yourself flying into LaGuardia or an uncontrolled 2600 foot long strip in Vermont (or both, as I did a few months ago). You will do most of the planning and make most of the decisions. The days will be long, and the pace can be grueling. But you will be treated like an aviator.

Working at PlaneSense is like being in a squadron again. It’s small enough so you can get to know most of the people here. The pilots are a very diverse group, from young kids who are doing their first real flying job to retired military or major airline pilots. But you’ll find all share a love of flying and a commitment to the craft. You’ll find that as an ex-military pilot, you have experiences that you can share with the younger pilots that will make them better—you can make a difference here. Also, don’t believe what you have heard about millennials being slackers, you’ll also find that keeping up with a bunch of kids in their 20’s will keep you young!”


Matt Cerro
With PlaneSense, Inc. since September 2005

“I started at PlaneSense well over a decade ago, a 23-year-old former flight instructor living with my college friends in a cramped apartment. Eighteen months later, I had upgraded to Captain, developed some serious instrument flying proficiency, and was feeling comfortable negotiating the alternating seasons of ice and thunderstorms in the Northeast. Along the way, I found a girlfriend, got married, and became a father. Through the ups and downs of the economy, PlaneSense has been a stable place to work. Now that I’m supporting a family, I’ve come to really appreciate that stability.

Our first child was born five weeks early. Murphy’s Law being what it is, she went into labor while I was on an overnight in Louisville, Kentucky. A quick phone call to management and we had permission to reposition the plane seven hundred miles back east, right to my hometown. I made it to the hospital with only thirty minutes to spare. They shifted my vacation early to give me three weeks paid time off, the head of HR personally offered her babysitting services, and we even received an embroidered baby blanket in the mail a week later. I am proud to work at a company that places that kind of value on family.

The eight on/six off schedule has worked really well for our family. My days off are free of commuting or any other work obligations. Plus we get much more time together as a family. I actually get more quality time with my wife and children than if I was working a traditional 9-5 job.”