Jim Desmond combines a job as a Boeing 767 captain with running the city of San Marcos in California as its mayor. He is also a flight instructor and board member of San Diego International airport

You have a busy life. How do you fit in your four jobs?

Actually I have two full-time jobs, one as the mayor of San Marcos, California and the other as a captain flying Boeing 767s and 757s for Delta Air Lines. I also sit on two boards, the San Diego Regional Airport Authority Board which presides over San Diego's airport Lindbergh Field and on the board of the San Diego Association of Governments, which tackles all the regional transport issues in San Diego county.

Seniority among pilots defines quality of life in the US airlines. Fortunately, I'm senior enough to fly a full month schedule and receive the days off I need to carry out my mayoral and board meeting duties.

Jim Desmond 
 Desmond: safety is the first priority whether flying or running a city

How did you start in aviation?

My brother John Desmond, who recently retired as president of Flight Dynamics, which makes the heads-up guidance system for commercial and military aircraft, introduced me to flying.

Soon after I finished high school and before I enlisted in the US Navy my brother took me in his Cessna 172 across the USA, seeing and discovering the country while camping at small airports. The thought that people were actually paid to fly aircraft intrigued me.

Where did your career go from there?

During my four-year enlistment in the US Navy as an aircraft electrician, I took flying lessons at local flying clubs and received my flight instructor's certificate. While earning an electrical engineering degree at San Diego State University I gave flying lessons at the local airfield between classes.

After university, while working as an engineer by day, I flew small cargo aircraft at night. I then went full-time as a corporate pilot flying staff for a Los Angeles bank in a Beechcraft King Air 200. Delta Air Lines hired me in 1986.

Out of around 90 pilots going through training at Delta at that time, I was the only purely civilian-trained pilot.

How did the move into running a city come about?

While flying for Delta I still wanted to use my engineering degree. During the dotcom boom of the 1990s I started a technical writing business.

At its peak the business had 35 employees and about $2 million in annual sales.

To promote my business I got involved locally and was on the boards of the local chamber of commerce, the city's economic development commission and the city's planning commission.

After the dotcom bust I shut down the business and ran for office. I was elected to the San Marcos city council. And all while still flying for Delta Air Lines.

After two years on the city council I ran for mayor and was elected in 2006. San Marcos, like most Californian cities, has a city manager form of government, where the city manager runs the day-to-day operations and the city council and mayor meet several times a month to set strategy, direction and city policy.

How do the skills you have acquired in one profession help with doing a better job in another?

The priorities are the same when flying an aircraft or running a city. Safety always comes first, then managing your resources, followed by comfort of your passengers or citizens.

Unfair question, but which do you enjoy best - pilot, politician or instructor?

I've always enjoyed learning, right now I am learning the most about city government, how taxes are collected, how roads get built, and how things get done at a local city level.

However, my biggest thrill is sitting at the end of the runway in a Boeing 767 and pushing the throttles forward.

Source: Flight International