Entrepreneurial Pilot: Jeff Coursey's Story

Flying business jets can provide valuable insights on how to be successful in life – as proved to be the case for entrepreneurial contract pilot Jeff Coursey. Fabrizio Poli caught up with him recently to learn more...

Fabrizio Poli  |  14th February 2023
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Fabrizio Poli
Fabrizio Poli

Fabrizio Poli is Senior Consultant at Orville Aviation. He is also an Airline Transport Pilot. Mr. Poli...

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Jeff Coursey standing outside a Gulfstream G550

Florida resident Jeff Coursey is a highly experienced pilot and successful entrepreneur. With over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, he has flown a variety of aircraft, including private jets, turboprops, helicopters, and single-engine planes. He is a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor, and, to date, he’s logged thousands of hours in the air.

Jeff caught the flying bug when he was four years old, when his dad took up flying as a hobby. His father started a jet charter business in Florida, and Jeff had his own window tinting business while starting his own flying career.

Jeff got his first opportunity as a commercial pilot flying Learjets and, soon after, a friend invited him to fly a Gulfstream G550. This is when Jeff realized that business is all about relationships. He was doing a lot of contracting as a pilot and saw opportunities come his way to start doing some business deals.

While Jeff has been flying wealthy people around the world, because of his likeable personality he often gets invited to dinner. Associating with these accomplished people made Jeff realize he could do more than simply fly planes – he soon noted that what made these people successful was the fact they saw opportunities where others didn’t, and they always treated failure as a learning experience.

Putting Theory into Practice

Putting his observation into practice, Jeff shares the story about his car storage business that was born out of necessity. He needed a safer place to store his Porsche 911 and knew other people with a similar problem. So, he found a 10,000sq.ft. warehouse in Boca Raton to store the cars.

The warehouse owner wanted $10,000 a month, but Jeff knew he needed to invest in kitting the warehouse out in order to adequately store the cars.

He made a bold move in asking the owner if he could have the place for just $1,000 a month for the first six months and the next six months for $4,000. Offering to open his books to the owner after 12 months, if Jeff’s business was making enough money, he agreed to pay the full $10,000 a month.

Sealing the deal, Jeff got into the warehouse with no money down, allowing him to use his other capital to buy the necessary equipment, paint the walls, create a nice reception area, and start a great car storage business.

In total, Jeff invested around $80,000 and within a few months had more than 110 cars, with one client storing their entire 41 Porsche car collection there. Unfortunately, when the warehouse owner saw Jeff’s success, they decided to increase the rent to $30,000 per month, causing Jeff to have to shut down.

Nevertheless, displaying the winner mentality he’d seen in his private jet passengers, he took this experience and new business relationships, developing his own fund to invest into other projects.

Where There’s a Need...

One of the things Jeff has created is a Facebook group called Private Jet Pilots (PJP) – the result of Jeff getting so many requests as a contract pilot. He started to share the work with friends via Facebook and the community is growing with just over 18,000 pilots on there.

Anyone needing another pilot for a trip can reach out to the PJP group on Facebook and post their trip details, and pilots can put their names forward. An interesting thing Jeff managed to do through the group was to ensure that family members traveling to a wedding who were stuck more than 1,100 miles away due to scheduled airline cancellations still made it to the church on time.

The story began with a group post asking for travel alternatives for the father and brother of a bride getting married in Dallas later that day.

The two men had been stranded for 24 hours in Fort Lauderdale after two consecutive airline flights were cancelled due to weather and technical issues. “Right away, we had pilots researching other available commercial options, but none were available within the required timeframe,” Jeff recalls.

“The discussion then shifted to how to make the trip work on a business aircraft.”

Several PJP members donated funds to help cover fuel and other operating costs, and Jeff spoke to a sports medicine doctor for whom he flies. It didn’t take long to convince the doctor to use his Embraer Phenom 300 for the trip, although “his financial controller had some questions,” Jeff admits.

He volunteered to pilot the two men himself – free of charge –in addition to donating his own money toward the effort. “The doctor even moved off a planned trip until the following evening so I wouldn’t be stressed about being back on time,” he adds.

With the plan in place, Jeff repositioned the Phenom from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport down to Florida to pick up the family members, flying them to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

In the end, the wedding was delayed by only a couple of hours, and the bride and groom invited Jeff to the ceremony. The story also drew coverage from the local NBC affiliate. Donations for the trip came to approximately $9,800, which Jeff noted covered only about one-third of the total trip costs. However, the rewards far outweighed the financials for everyone involved.

“The nature of our industry offers the tremendous ability to help out in times of need,” he says, “and this just shows what we all can do when people working in Business Aviation come together to solve a problem.”

Watch the full video interview with Jeff Coursey:

Continue reading this story in the AvBuyer February edition digital magazine. Click below for a link...

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