As a part of my school’s Junior year internship program I was given the chance to serve as an intern at Martinair, a charter airline based out of the Richmond International Airport (UNRELATED to my last name). Martinair is a Part 91 and 135 airline, operating aircraft for both owners and clients who charter out aircraft.

Martinair currently has a fleet of 13 aircraft:

  • 3 Beechjets (400A)
  • 2 Challengers (601)
  • 2 Cessna Citations (II/III)
  • 1 Embraer Phenom (100)
  • 2 KingAirs (200/350)
  • 3 Learjets (35/45)

During my internship, I had the chance to experience nearly every aspect of the company, ranging from management and maintenance, to the flying side of Martinair. I spent most of my time during the week meeting and talking with people from different branches of the company, to gain a little perspective on how a charter airline operates from the inside. Here are some things I learned from the experience:

Scheduling Is Hard

At many charter airlines, scheduling can be quite the process. You have to balance aircraft charter schedules, pilot’s schedules, and aircraft maintenance, all while trying to keep a minimum number of pilots ready for a trip that can be purchased just 2 hours prior to departure! I gained a lot of respect for the people running schedules and operations, they have quite the job to manage!

View From Scheduling and Operations

View From Scheduling and Operations

Maintenance Is Tedious

I had tons of free time during my internship to hang around the hanger and talk with the mechanics. They were incredibly inviting and were always excited to show me what they were up to. It was awesome as a non-engineer to learn a little bit about what they do and how organized they have to be in order to maintain an aircraft properly. I had the chance to climb around a Challenger’s cockpit, cabin, and rear systems bay with a mechanic who was doing some scheduled maintenance. It was awesome to see that large aircraft up close! One moment stands out in particular from the mechanical experiences: I got to help start and run up a turbine engine for the first time! We tested an engine on a Learjet 35 after some parts had been replaced. Pushing the throttles forward and watching the engine rpm spike was amazing.

Charter Airlines Aren’t Always A Final Destination For Pilots

Martinair runs sort of like a regional airline. It’s a place where even the top salaries aren’t massive. Martinair is often used by pilots as a stepping stone towards a more lucrative career. BUT, this isn’t always the case. During a flight aboard a Learjet, I had the chance to talk some with the captain. He said something that really stuck with me (and it’s true for pretty much every pilot), “Life for a pilot is a balance of three things: quality of life, quality of job, and quality of pay. You end up choosing what matters the most to you and it affects the other two profoundly.” This captain in particular was a quality of life guy. Unless another job opens up in the Richmond area, he wants to stay at Martinair so he can be with his family more often.

Charter Pilots Have A High Workload

Unlike airlines, charter pilots are responsible before, during, and after a flight for their aircraft. They handle catering, cleaning, flying, flight planning, and refueling (among other things). To get a better sense for a charter pilot’s flight experience, check out this article:

Charter Airlines Are A Great Way To Fly

For the passengers, chartering a plane is a great way to fly, without the hassle of owning your own plane. The flights are quick and on your schedule. Gone are the long lines and waits at the airport and security lines. When you’re ready to depart, the plane leaves. When you are ready to return, the pilots are ready. Trips that can take the majority of a day can be done in just a few hours. Plus, if you have lots of people flying with you (who can share the cost), it’s pretty affordable!

Internships Are A Great Way To Experience Aviation

If you’re an aspiring professional pilot, serving as an intern at an airline or any other aviation group is a great way to learn about possible options for your future. It’s valuable to have the work experience and knowledge of different career paths before you make choices in college and beyond.

Thanks to everyone at Martinair for making my internship such a great experience. I appreciate the chance to learn more about your airline!

If anyone reads this and has any questions about being an intern or working in a Part 91/135 environment, feel free to contact me via the tab above.

Thanks for reading and watching,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

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About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

4 Responses

  1. Ron Rapp

    Great article! Although I would take issue with one thing: charter/corporate flying is frequently the ultimate destination for those who work in the industry. My company has something like 43 aircraft and 150 pilots, and none of them that I know of are interested in going to the airlines.

    • Swayne Martin

      Ron, thanks for the comment! I do agree that charter and corporate work is an end goal for many pilots. After speaking with the chief pilot at Martinair, they see quite a few pilots transition onto something along the lines of airlines. At the same time, many Martinair pilots choose to stay because they’re happy to have a job that keeps them close to home.

  2. Trevor Heath

    Hey Swayne, how did you contact Martinair for an internship? I landed a shadowing opportunity with HeloAir, but really would love to land one with Martinair. I appreciate this page you have created for prospective pilots.


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