The Lear 60 based in Orlando, Fla., is now being operated by an experienced new crew, with Chad Salter taking over as captain and Joel Fontanez taking over the first officer seat. Both pilots have significant aviation experience and Lear hours in particular.
Salter comes to Elite Air from Shell Oil, where he flew the company’s Falcon 900. Salter, who started flying when he was 16 and now has nearly 10,000 total hours including 3,400 in the Lear 60, is currently typed in five different aircraft and is a helicopter pilot, as well. He was drawn to central Florida by an opportunity for his wife, but he said the opportunity to fly a Lear 60 has made his move from Houston a bit easier to take.
“The Lear 60 is the hottest airplane I have ever flown,” Salter said. “It’s a rocket ship.”
Fontanez comes to the 60 from a background flying both Learjets and Challengers over the past decade. Like Salter, he said his current aircraft was one of the only platforms he was willing to trade for his previous job.
While Salter is accustomed to flying strictly non-charter flights, his first officer Fontanez comes from a charter background, which should help the team adjust to the schedule.
“It’s a little different from what I have been doing, but it’s a nice to have a small flight department and be in a small crew,” Salter said. “And we’re enjoying the different flying options as far as not going to one place generically all the time. It’s also nice to fly domestic more. Most of the flying was international in my last position.”