Chief Operating Officer
Meet Michael Vanacore-Netz, Global Air Charters’ Chief Operating Officer, Chief Pilot, and Co-Owner
Michael Vanacore-Netz, Global Air Charters’ Chief Operating Officer, Chief Pilot, and Co-Owner, tells about his journey in Aviation, history with GAC, and favorite career moments to date. Read on to learn more about Michael.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bucks County, PA, about 45 minutes North of Philadelphia.
What or who inspired you to become a pilot?
I decided to become a pilot because my grandfather was a pilot. My grandfather flew B-24s in WWII. I was never afforded the chance to speak with him about his experiences as he passed away while I was young and before I knew that he flew.
What education and certifications do you hold?
As far as aviation is concerned, I hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. I have just over 5000 flight hours. I am type rated in the CE525 (Cessna Citation Jet), CE680 (Cessna Sovereign), GIV (Gulfstream 4), GV (Gulfstream 5), BBD700 (Bombardier Global Express). Regarding professional qualifications, I hold an AvMP (Aviation Management Professional) designation, which is awarded by IATA (International Air Transport Association). I also have a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Aviation Flight Management, a Master’s of Science in Management, and a Master’s of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership.
I understand you’re working toward your Ph.D. Where and what are you studying, and why did you choose that degree?
I am currently enrolled in a Master’s of Science in Space Studies to obtain my first STEM degree. Afterward, I will complete a professional graduate certificate in space studies followed by my last Master’s degree, which will be in Human Factors. My doctorates will be in finance, economics, or leadership, with my second doctorate being in aviation, most likely human factors. When I get to that point, I think I’ve done enough school for my lifetime.
What was the topic of your Master’s Thesis?
For my first master’s program, my thesis was “The Negative Effects America’s Obesity Epidemic is Having on the Airline Industry from an Economic Standpoint.” My second thesis was on “The Economic and Competitive outcome of the Merger Between Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.”
How does what you’re learning apply to your position as a Chief Pilot, Co-Owner, or Chief Operating Officer of Global Air Charters?
My education in business helps me support and run different facets of GAC. As the Chief Pilot, my education in Leadership has helped me lead by example, stand in the trenches with my crews, and build a foundation of trust and respect with them. The position of Chief Pilot is labeled a lonely job, and it can be at times. When I became the Chief Pilot, I was in charge of roughly ten individuals in-flight operations alone. I now oversee over 35 people. This is one of my proudest accomplishments at GAC. I look forward to handing the torch of Chief Pilot to someone else in the future but hope that my tenure in the position is what all future Chief Pilots are graded against.
My business degrees help me in my new role as the Chief Operating Officer at GAC. Every morning I have a routine that includes reading the wall street journal, followed by various (and numerous) aviation and business aviation publications. Our industry is constantly changing, and staying on top of the market and regulations is very important. As the COO, I work directly with Sales and Marketing, to better help and understand this, I read and take short courses on both subjects to better support the experts in both these areas when I give my opinion. Chief Operating Officer is a broad title used in business and can frequently encompass many roles and responsibilities. This is where I fit in. I like to be flexible to work in various departments and move around as needed. I like to fix puzzles and solve problems. Right now is an exciting time at GAC as we’re adding more managed airframes and more crew members.
How did you first meet Paul Rodsjo, our Director of Operations?
In 2011, I interned at CAE, an FAA 142 Training Center (the same training center GAC uses for training today). We met in the G450 simulator, and I was there to support him. We hit it off and stayed in touch, and in 2012 he offered me what became my first flying job as a first officer on N9939T, a G450 based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
What type of jet instruction did you do and where?
After interning at CAE, I became an instructor there. I taught the Bombardier Global Express platform as well as the G450/550 platforms for a short time. I left CAE in 2018 when my position with GAC was beginning to take up more of my time. I still have many contacts at CAE. Whenever I go back for my GAC training there, it’s fun to reconnect.
What did you learn from this experience?
To put it simply: A LOT. I was never a certified flight instructor, so my only instruction experience was teaching in the simulator. I learned so much about human factors, the decision-making process, crew resource management (CRM), and threat and error management (TEM). I also learned a lot about jet aircraft, but what piqued my interest was learning about the people operating the aircraft.
How long were you based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan, and what did you learn as a pilot and operator while living in those locations?
I was based in Malaysia from June 2012 to August 2014. I lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from late 2014 to late 2016. Living in Malaysia was an eye-opening experience as this was my first flight assignment and first extended period outside of the United States. In Kazakhstan, my experience was a bit different because the crews all bunked together, and I was a captain at this point. Like everything, you find a routine that works for you and create a home away from home. I could be gone for half a year straight sometimes, which has a profound effect on you, your family, and your loved ones.
What was your most interesting experience while living abroad?
Because of the nature of my job and who employed me, I’ve been overseas for many incidents. My crew was in Nice, France, during the terrorist attacks there. We were in Turkey during the attempted overtaking of the government. I’ve been in Kazakhstan during some turbulent times as well. Honestly, my most interesting experience while being abroad has got to be flying into Iran. My crew was the last US flight crew to enter Iran before it was closed off to Americans again. To be thirty years old and the captain of a flight entering Iran was eye-opening for sure.
How does your experience working abroad help you in the daily operations of a global charter company?
One word: Perspective. Having a foundation of what is expected or normal in other parts of the world removes some of the stress when flight planning various missions and trips we have. Understanding that a client in the UK will prefer certain meals or a particular cabin experience helps us tailor to our client’s needs. Understanding how a handler in Nigeria will expect you to behave or act will help you have a better experience when getting fuel or other aircraft services. These are all “learned” life lessons or behaviors taught by word of mouth or in a mentor/mentee relationship.
What is your favorite thing about working for GAC?
GAC has a great culture, and the people make this company run more like a family. Everyone looks after one another and watches each other’s back. FAR Part 135 flying is not glamorous, but it serves an essential niche in the industry, and it takes a particular type of pilot to excel in this field. FAR Part 135 flying is some of the most demanding and challenging flying we can do in general aviation. As such, I’m very proud we’ve been able to bring on a good cadre of airmen and women to carry our GAC’s mission, vision, and core values every day.
In your opinion, what makes GAC stand apart from other private charters?
That’s a tough one. Our relationships, empowered employees, and “zero fail” mentality help us succeed where others cannot. We’ve positioned ourselves to control more of the process than many of our competitors, as we utilize an internal dispatch and permitting department to handle our international travel. This has helped us gain permits during difficult periods and obtain them quickly. Our employees are empowered to go above and beyond for the clients whenever possible. Our relationships are strong with our clients. We have built our relationships over decades of hard work, positive flights, and doing things the right way. Lastly, “zero fail” is a mentality that we will get the mission accomplished the right way, every time, without endangering crew safety, passenger safety, or vehicle safety. This mindset pushes us to be successful problem solvers and remain dedicated to a high level of safety.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
As the Chief Pilot, I enjoy mentoring and leading a group of young professionals as they develop their carrier. Some of these pilots will go on to the airlines or corporate FAR Part 91 positions. Knowing that I had the chance to shape and mold their career is very humbling for me and fills me with a sense of pride that I’ve helped another person succeed in their goals.
As the COO, I enjoy the challenge of taking GAC to the next level. My goals and objectives as the Chief Pilot are more micro in that I focus on the individuals, whereas with the COO position, I need to have more of a macro focus to position the company for success. As the COO, I need to bring together all the departments and make sure the synergy between them is holistic to operate both efficiently and effectively.
What memories you will never forget while flying with GAC?
- Being offered my first FO position by Paul on the G450
- Flying out for my first rotation in Malaysia
- My first flight with GAC Subang to Bangkok
- My first Atlantic crossing, Corsica to Dulles
- Flying with NASA
- Flying to Iraq and Afghanistan
What is your favorite occasion to celebrate while flying?
Birthday flights tend to be fun for everyone, and sometimes the cabin attendants go all out decorating the cabin.
What motivates you to do the best on the job?
I’ve pushed my entire life to do the best I can at what I do. In the two roles I have here at GAC, many people depend on me to do a good job and succeed in my role for us as a company to have continued success. Beyond the numbers revenue, profit, growth, employees, airframes, etc., I want my legacy here to be what this company has come to represent and its image in the charter industry.
It’s very hard to grow a company organically in this field. We have been able to do something unique and special by growing without any outside capital. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t come without work and sacrifice. Everyone in this company has given a lot to help make GAC what it is. I want to do my part to give back to my employees.
What is one specific moment with a customer that made you realize why you do what you do?
Either the Iraq trip for the SPCA or our NASA Missions. They truly make me swell with pride and put a smile on my face.
In your opinion, what makes a good pilot?
A pilot needs to have the right stuff. What I mean by this is they need to have the right mix of instincts as well as knowledge to operate their airframe safely. This means trusting the aircraft as much as one’s self. As I mentioned above, a big thing for me is being able to operate an aircraft efficiently and effectively, focusing on crew safety, passenger safety, vehicle safety, and mission success.
What is your favorite plane to fly?
Any plane. As long as I’m in the front, I’m happy. There are days when I’m walking out to one of our aircraft on the flight line, and I can look up and smile. Those are good days.
Tell us about the most fun you’ve experienced on the job.
The most fun I have experienced on the job has been flying the NASA missions. Flying for NASA or being selected for the Astronaut Core is a big dream and goal of mine.
What city or country would you most like to visit again, and why?
I love being in London. It’s a fun city to be in and is a great mix of a business town and a leisure town.
What are the two or three most exotic locations you have visited as a pilot for Global Air Charters, and what was your experience visiting these countries?
I don’t know about exotic. I’ve been to over 60 counties now. Some of my best memories have been because of the people I’ve been with, not necessarily the locations. Greenland, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan were all unique locations due to how remote and rarely visited they are by civilians. I have really enjoyed visiting Europe.