Frederick Abeloos initially took to the skies in the Belgian air force but now combines two roles at Capital Aircraft Group as first officer flying Citation Jets while working as deputy flight operations and training manager
How did you get into aviation?
Ever since I was a little boy, I have been intrigued by everything that could fly. I started flying gliders at the age of 15, initially in a civilian club, but one year later I joined the Royal Belgian Air Cadets, an organisation offering glider training, during weekends and school holidays, to youngsters aiming to become a pilot in the Belgian air force.
I joined the Royal Military Academy, where I graduated as an officer in November 2005. Unfortunately, due to setbacks I had to stop my military flight training and take command of an IT section. As IT was my second area of interest, I initially accepted my new role, but I couldn't get rid of the dream of getting into a professional cockpit. So I decided to leave the Belgian air force and start again in civilian aviation.
© Capital Aircraft Group
Abeloos: planning a long and varied career with Capital Aircraft Group
Tell us about your job with Capital Aircraft Group
Capital Aircraft Group is a small corporate aviation company, based in Wevelgem. Besides flying for CAG as a first officer on Cessna Citation Jets and the Embraer Phenom 100, I also support operations as a deputy flight operations and training manager. What I like about working for CAG is the team spirit and the dedication to the top level of service towards our clients. I also enjoy the different types of operations, from standard business trips to urgent medical flights for organ transport. I especially enjoy those medical flights, because after successfully delivering the organ within the time limit, you know you helped improve the quality of someone's life.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
When I decided to start my training for the civilian aviation, I had to redo all the training I did in the air force. I gave up my career as an officer and found a job as a flight dispatcher with a major Belgian airline. Sometimes I had to work all night, and go flying in the afternoon. No road is too tough when you want to achieve your goal. There was a possibility to get a Boeing Next Generation 737 type rating, but this was delayed twice. As I was 27 already, and couldn't wait any longer to start flying, I took the opportunity to go flying for CAG, leaving a renowned Belgian airline for a small corporate company. It was all about trust and an "I need to do this" feeling. I am very grateful for the opportunities CAG has given me.
How important has it been to get as much experience as possible in different fields?
If someone has to choose between two candidates with the same experience and skills, they'll go for the one who has some extra values, not necessarily directly related to the job description. I guess my background as an officer, and my operational experience as a flight dispatcher, makes a difference.
What is the next career step and how do you see the longer-term future?
As I enjoy my job at CAG, I'll do all I can to keep our company successful. My personal goal is to get more experienced both in flying and the operational field, and to become a captain when I have the qualifications needed. As long as the vision of the company goes along with mine, I think we can work out a successful career. My next career step will be becoming a flight instructor, and initially train youngsters to get their private pilot's licence.
What advice would you give to youngsters keen to get a job in the right-hand seat?
If you really want it, go for it and take any opportunity to get some experience within aviation. The business is still having a hard time surviving the recession but one day it will recover, and then every bit of experience you have will make the difference in getting the job. And most of all, never give up.