In February Stewart and I were, more or less, retired. I was continuing to fly and consult, although the work ebbed more than it flowed. Stewart was supporting his environmental remediation company with a handful of hours each week, but otherwise we were living routine if not contented lives.
On the 27th a friend e-mailed me out of the blue. A Captain position was opening up at his company: yacht-based, hi-tempo, flying a twin-engine, instrument-capable executive helicopter. It was based in Europe, meaning I would be, too. It sounded exciting to us, and a little exotic; we had barely even thought about vacationing in Europe, much less living there and me leaving retirement and taking up a new full time position. And so after some brief contemplation, a little soul-searching and some wide-eyed discussions between us, I submitted my CV.
Weeks went by, and we heard nothing. I halfway forgot about it.
And then I received an official e-mail. The Company had pared the applicant field down to ten, and I had made the cut. I completed an online interview that involved extemporary speaking and personal character discussions, two things (among others) that I am uniformly terrible at. That and the San Diego sun, the arc of which I had miscalculated when selecting the spot in my home to set up the videocam, gave me the impression that I hadn’t made such a great impression.
But two days later I was notified that I had been one of three candidates selected, and that I was being flown to London for the final round of interviews. It was, needless to say, a little nerve-racking, and Stewart’s and my decision to pursue what was for us such an unorthodox path was now feeling very real. I flew to the UK, and met with the interview team the next morning. If I recall correctly the meeting took the better part of four hours, after which they thanked me and I returned to my hotel room.
A few hours later the Chief Pilot called me, and indicated they would like to fly me to the Isle of Man to meet the CEO. And so, after an early-morning flight the next day and several hours of discussions, introductions, and lunch, I was offered the job.
I was elated, and shell-shocked. But I accepted.
And then the race was on, a thousand things to do before it all started. I won’t enumerate everything here, but suffice it to say we worked full tilt, nonstop, to get all of our worldly belongings stored (we only took clothes, more or less, to Europe), our home rented, and the mountain of paperwork processed before our one way flight to Nice, France. With the help of our good friend Mark, and our neighbors, we kept from losing our minds completely during the process, although I had to leave Stewart to wrap up all the loose ends when I left for Europe early for training. And there were a lot of loose ends: for weeks on end all he did, from the time he woke to time he went to bed, was work on the move. By the time he drove away from our home for the last time, he was mentally and physically exhausted.
But finally, on the 24th of July, Stewart landed in Nice and we were on our way, on our European adventure.
Fast forward through lots of crazy stuff that would take entirely too long to describe in this narrative, but we are now settled in our good friends’ home in Ponterania, Italy, just outside of Bergamo, which is just outside of Milan. I travel for work, often to Cannes, France, but as I am yacht-based it might as easily be Spain or Southern Italy, or…wherever. During my off time Stewart and I have been traveling as well, to Aberdeen/Edinburgh; Venice/Florence/Milan and many local sights around Bergamo; London; and Munich/Innsbruck/Vipiteno.
So much to see, and to experience, it has been a great ride so far.