On January 24, 2011, Gulfstream opened its doors and welcomed the Flyboyzs in grand fashion for a tour of its factory in Savannah, Georgia.
As Gulfstream has rightfully earned the title of being the #1 business jet manufacturer in the world, it has embarked upon another first and #1; inspiring, motivating and educating the nation with the Flyboyzs.
Our host, Mr. Roger Sperry, Regional Sr. Vice President, International Sales, orchestrated a grand 7-hour tour including a company overview and behind-the-scenes looks at the G650 Flight Test Hangar, G650 Production and Mockup, the Acoustics Lab, Advanced Cabin, G450/G550 Production and the G650 Integrated Test Facility.
Flyboyzs President Jeff Freeny;
Back Row: Gulfstream - Sr. VP International Sale Roger Sperry; VP Marketing Bill Shira; VP Communication Jeff Miller; Front Row: Flyboyzs - Mergers and Acquisitions, Christa Wickland; Managing Director of Education, Jackie Briggs; VP Dennis Henderson
Flyboyzs VP Frank McDonald
Flyboyzs Marketing/Special Education Director,
Gulfstream Mr. Travis Karp, Sr. Sales Engineer
Gulfstream has announced 1,000 new job creations, and Flyboyzs will be a crucial vehicle to help recruit today’s and tomorrow’s brightest engineers, scientists, and pilots.
As a former U.S. Military Fighter Pilot and Aircraft Commander of Gulfstream/General Dynamics’ F-111, Mr. Freeny of Flyboyzs speaks from experience about Gulfstream/General Dynamics top quality products, and is proud of this new association.
While the Flyboyzs pilots saw exciting cool airplanes on the tour, Managing Director of Education Ms. Jackie Briggs saw educational opportunities at every turn. She observed that key aspects of her curriculum can be fulfilled through the wonderful tour of Gulfstream. “Theory meets real life application at its best”, says Ms. Briggs. She also mentioned that the reason Flyboyzs learning stand out far above and beyond any learning system she has experienced is the personal involvement and free follow-up the Flyboyzs offer from anywhere in the world.
Flyboyzs pilots, who are also FAA Certified Flight Instructors, say the ability to communicate with the actual individuals involved in any career field enhances the basic levels of learning.
As Jeff Freeny mentioned to Gulfstream President Joe Lombardo and V.P. Roger Sperry, “I have flown your General Dynamics’ F-111 at blistering speeds just above the nap of the earth and slipped through a summer’s morning sun at speeds faster than the speed of sound. I travel half way around the world and back 3-4 times a month for a major airline in the biggest airplane made by Boeing (747-400). So what does all this have in common with the wonderful tour of their facility? AMAZEMENT! The entire Flyboyzs staff were amazed to see how an airplane is assembled, from conception to rolling out of the hangar. We all glared with the astonished beady eyes, curiosity and bewilderment of a 12-year-old child.”
Click here for photos of Gulfstream tour.
After the tour, we asked our colleague and friend Sr. V.P. Roger Sperry to answer a few questions for us. We are so grateful for his informative and eloquent glimpse of the Gulfstream Corporation, presented below.
Flyboyzs: Are you a pilot, and what in particular drew you to Gulfstream?
Mr. Sperry: Yes, I have been in the aviation business for 38 years with approximately 3,500 hours in several aircraft types.
Flyboyzs: Tell us about some of the key aspects of your role as VP of International Sales. Do you actually make sales yourself? Who are your typical clients? Does your job involve a lot of travel?
Mr. Sperry: My area of responsibility is Asia/Pacific rim and Latin America. I have six sales offices reporting to me throughout this region. As you would expect I travel a lot. In 2010 I was in Asia 11 times along with other trips to Latin America. I get involved with many of the sales directly, however we consider our sales a team effort as it takes personnel from sales, engineering, contracts, flight operations and product support to make a sale.
Most of our buyers are corporations or high net worth individuals. Every time we deliver an airplane it is a proud moment to see someone who has waited up to two years to take possession their aircraft.
Flyboyzs: Of all the aircraft that Gulfstream manufactures, which is your personal favorite? What is the best seller? The coolest? The most expensive? Gulfstream prides itself on building the most technologically advanced business jets, give us an example of something a Gulfstream jet can do that no other manufacturer can touch.
Mr. Sperry: The best selling product has been the G550 for the last few years. The coolest and most expensive is the G650 that will be certified this year (2011). It has a lot of new technology and innovative enhancements that you haven't seen in other aircraft to date. It is also the fastest civil aircraft with a speed of .925 mach. In flight test the aircraft has exceeded .995 mach.
Flyboyzs: How many planes does Gulfstream produce a year?
Mr. Sperry: Gulfstream produces about 100 airplanes annually, with roughly two thirds falling into the long-range or ultra-long-range category, and the remainder being mid-range, also-called, mid-size jets.
Flyboyzs: What airplane not made by Gulfstream do you admire, civilian or military?
Mr. Sperry: I admire all the aircraft from the first to the latest. I marvel every time I see an airplane take off or land.
Flyboyzs: Out of all the other light aircraft manufacturers like Cessna, Beechcraft, Lear, Canadair, etc., what was the key moment or decision that propelled Gulfstream to become the premier aircraft manufacturer of our time? Who is your key competitor?
Mr. Sperry: Well, the GIV is certainly one of the most successful business jets of all times. It entered the market 25 years ago and really launched an era of global capability for business jets. More than 500 GIVs or GIV follow-on aircraft have been built and another 500-plus GV/G550 series aircraft that incorporate a lot of the GIV DNA. So the company, over the last quarter century, owes a lot to the original GIV.
There really isn’t one competitor. Bombardier, Dassault, Hawker, Beechcraft, Cessna and Embraer challenge us in one segment or another. Most certainly, Bombardier will make a determined effort to challenge us at the top of the market with proposed new ultra-long-range jets. That is the most lucrative segment of the market today, so that challenge is not unexpected.
Flyboyzs: Where do most of Gulfstream scientists, engineers and pilots come from? Give us a brief description of what you look for in candidates for those positions. What are the prerequisites for test pilots, engineers and scientists?
Mr. Sperry: I think there are a few common traits across the company. Gulfstream recruits professionals — people who are highly qualified in whatever they do, and who know how to take seriously their contribution to a team effort. This is very much a check-your-ego-at-the-door kind of company. And that behavior is modeled from the top down starting with our president, Joe Lombardo.
I would say Gulfstream looks for initiative and imagination. It’s an enriching environment to work in. People get charged up by what they do and have the chance to show initiative. That could be a pilot who says, “Let’s try this, let’s go set a record,” or, “what could we do to make approaches safer?” That’s how EVS (Enhanced Vision System) came about.
If you go to our avionics lab, you’ll see a lot of white-coat guys who have the freedom to experiment, even at the risk of failure. But out of that investment comes amazing new things, like our BBML (Broad Band Multi-Link) global cabin communications system, or the cabin-essential concept for the G650.
Flyboyzs: We noticed on your website that Gulfstream supports a number of professional organizations and that the company makes an effort to encourage applicants from across a diverse spectrum. Tell us why diversity recruiting is important to Gulfstream, and how has this philosophy strengthened the company.
Mr. Sperry: Our objective is to attract the very best people we can find, and if you subtly suggest that you’re not open to candidates from all backgrounds, not just recruiting them, but giving them a good career path, then you are closing doors to candidates who will enrich the company. They’ll take their talents somewhere else. And we are all about attracting talent.
Now looking globally, we need a more diverse work force than ever before, because most of our sales are going outside the United States. So when we find men and women who understand cultures in Asia and Latin America and the Middle East and elsewhere — whether they have family origins there, or have studied and worked there, or both—these talents are invaluable to us.
Another reason that a diverse work force is important is that we are a highly visible brand — our products and our people are all over the world. And world leaders in government and industry are visiting us in Savannah and other locations. So we are American ambassadors in a sense, and we want them to see the best of America.
Flyboyzs: What is the single greatest contribution to aviation made by Gulfstream? Can you give us a hint of some innovation that’s coming down the pipeline?
Mr. Sperry: I think it is a relentless focus on safety. We do a lot of gee whiz things. But the bottom line is a strong, reliable, capable aircraft, with the avionics systems that will guide you home in the worst conditions.
So if you want a hint — you will see progress in all those areas. Safety first, and innovations that make airplanes more reliable, more efficient, easier to maintain, and easier to fly in all conditions.
Then, we’ll continue to do basic research on things like quiet supersonic flight. There are a lot of regulatory and environmental hurdles to making this practical. We have made a lot of progress in the theoretical realm, even testing and patenting some concepts. This is a long ways out, maybe beyond our careers. But if someone is going to do it, I would guess that Gulfstream would be the first.
For more photos, career choices, employment, and information about the awesome G650 visit Gulfstream.com or click here for photos of our Gulfstream tour.