Chief Pilot Jay Todhunter set out to fly for Kenmore Air in 2013. But the path to his stripes wasn’t direct.
Like many of Kenmore Air’s flight crew, Jay started on the dock, splashing planes and washing windows. The job let him get his foot in the door. It also gave him access to Kenmore Air’s flight instruction department, where he earned his seaplane rating.
Jay had gotten his pilot’s license while earning his Bachelor of Science in Flight Technology at Central Washington University.
He knew he wanted to fly, be home with his family every night, and work for a family-oriented company. The criteria was a tall order, but Kenmore Air fit the bill.
“This place is really unique. I get to see my wife and kids daily as a pilot. But it’s also a good company to work for. A lot of companies say they have a family atmosphere. Here it’s actually true,” said Jay.
Climbing the ranks, he became a Flight Instructor, Line Pilot and Assistant Chief Pilot. In February of 2022, Jay was named Chief Pilot. Nowadays, he may fuel an Otter or pump some Beaver floats — but most of his job is making each flight as safe, comfortable, and fun as possible.
“There’s an incredible energy to flying aboard a seaplane. You’re going to unique destinations with killer views. Seeing people really enjoy travel is special,” said Jay.
As the Chief Pilot, flying didn’t become any cushier. And that’s just the way Jay likes it. “I get to actually fly the airplane. I’m not just pushing buttons,” Jay explained.
Plus, every day is different. Whether it’s Friday Harbor or Fisherman’s Bay, the wind, currents, and dock conditions are always changing. “Landing and docking changes from day to day and hour to hour, which keeps things interesting,” said Jay.
At home, Jay loves to spend time with his wife, Mellissa, and their two boys Kasen (7) and Carter (4). The three gents have become avid RC car racers, though Carter’s still getting the hang of steering.
“I’m kind of a homebody. Being with my family is the best,” said Jay.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT JAY
- Commercial Pilot’s License: 2005
- Seaplane Rating: October 2014
- Years Working for Kenmore: 9
- First Job at Kenmore: Line Crew Supervisor
- Favorite Destination: Desolation Sound
- Favorite Airplane: de Havilland Otter
Favorite Destination: Anywhere in Desolation Sound because it’s beautiful, remote, and difficult to reach without a seaplane.
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