The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is a prestigious honor presented by the FAA to pilots who have demonstrated safe and proficient piloting skills for at least 50 years. Many aviation experts receive honorable mentions and awards throughout their flying career, but only a select few are eligible to receive the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. Pete Hudes, Director of Operations at Silver Air, was recently presented this award in acknowledgment of his 50+ years of operating aircraft safely as a pilot.

Pete’s background in aviation is nothing short of impressive and diverse. It began at the University of Illinois when he decided to enroll in a pilot program as an elective. After taking that course, he was instantly captivated by the aviation industry. Upon graduation when it was time to make a decision regarding a career pathway, he asked himself, “Do I want to work for a living, or do I want to be a pilot?”

Pete’s career as a pilot began in 1970. Since then, he has flown for the Department of Commerce’s NOAA Corp, the FAA, Continental Airlines, KMR Aviation, and West Coast Charters. In 2015, Silver Air was lucky enough to welcome Pete to the family. He began as a Captain on a Learjet 60 and Citation X. Pete was soon promoted to Chief Pilot after six months on the job and became Director of Operations in 2020. One of Pete’s favorite parts about being a Silver Air Pilot was skipping the morning traffic from Westlake to Santa Barbara by flying to work instead!

Pete has been a part of the aviation world for 54 years and says the people themselves and the nature of the job haven’t changed much. The most significant change he has witnessed in the aviation industry is technological progress, noting that flying has become statistically safer due to these advancements. He also added that it’s a great time to pursue a career as a pilot, as an abundance of diverse opportunities are available.

If you’re looking to follow in Pete’s footsteps, he has some advice: start as early as you can, if your goal is to fly for the airlines. Days off, schedule, and what trips you are assigned are based entirely on seniority. If you want more flexibility, he suggests flying for a corporate company such as Silver Air because your schedule, the plane you fly, etc. are contingent on your skills and abilities rather than the date you were hired. Pete loved working as a corporate pilot as he was able to build meaningful relationships with his crew and other members of his team. He notes that his relationships as a corporate pilot felt more human than his commercial ones, as he rarely flew with the same crew when flying commercial. He also enjoyed the variability in his schedule and routes while flying private.

Pete loves his job to this day and cannot think of anything else he would want to do.

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