Air Force training pays off in business

Charlotte Pedersen, CEO Luxaviation Helicopters, learned to forge her own path in the Royal Danish Air Force. Now her training is inspiring new generations. Words: Alex Baldwin

Air Force training pays off in business

Charlotte Pedersen, CEO Luxaviation Helicopters, learned to forge her own path in the Royal Danish Air Force. Now her training is inspiring new generations. Words: Alex Baldwin

CHARLOTTE PEDERSEN’S pioneering spirit was evident from her first job. She started her career in the Danish Royal Air Force (RDAF) in 1989 – the first year women were accepted into its ranks. Only one other woman joined that year. With no predecessors, Pedersen knew she had to forge her own path.

More than 30 years later, she is one of the most important figures in rotary business aviation. Having risen through the ranks to become CEO of Luxaviation Helicopters, she attributes much of this success to her military training.

“The military has one of the best management educations that you can get. I have benefitted from this throughout my career,” says Pedersen.

She still maintains her military regimen on a typical workday. Waking before sunrise, she often catches the first flights of the day across Europe for meetings with colleagues and clients.

“I get up very early, around 4am most mornings and leave the house near Luxembourg at 5am, with a mandatory coffee, to catch a flight, generally to our main UK helicopter operator Starspeed, based at Fairoaks Airport in Surrey.

“Recently, we had a client meeting that started at 9am, so a second coffee was required. The meeting lasted most of the day. Lunch was my opportunity to check emails, news and WhatsApp.

“When the meeting ended, I caught the train from Starspeed at Fairoaks to Marylebone to go to a dinner at a conference, catch up with contemporaries, and then head to a hotel room to finalise my presentation for the next day of the conference. Finally, of course, I messaged my husband and grandchildren.

“When I do get downtime in the winter, I like to ski. I took a week off this year for a skiing holiday with my family in the Swiss Alps. It was out of season, with not many tourists, and the weather was beautiful. In the summer I enjoy relaxing when I have the time off. Reading, playing board games with the kids, and walking dogs. I am also a passionate horseback rider, so I do that when I have the chance.

“Most importantly, I like to spend my free time with my family and friends. Recently I met my old Air Force colleague for her 50th birthday. We started our pilot training together 30 years ago.

“When we were young, my friend and I had to prove that we had a right to be there in the Danish Air Force as pilots. We had to prove that we could deliver the same or better exam results than our male colleagues. But I never thought too much about it. Only in very few instances have I ever thought that I was in a very male-dominated industry. I have always felt highly respected. I have had some funny situations, but nothing has kicked me out.”

Pedersen is determined to pass the torch – doing what she can to bring young professionals from all backgrounds into the aviation market. In fact, she puts aside much of her free time to help mentor and inspire these people.

“Now, I mentor young aviation professionals who want advice on what steps to take, how to prepare for interviews and other career questions. And that is for both female and male pilots and others interested in aviation. I truly enjoy this – backed by 30 years’ experience – providing help to someone who is new but extremely motivated and bright. This is something I try to make time for during the week. It is personal, I do it in my free time. It makes me smile when I see these young motivated aviation wannabes and help them.”

CJI Connect

Charlotte Pedersen

CEO

Luxaviation Helicopters

+32(0)2 712 53 45

info@luxaviation.com

Charlotte Pedersen

CEO

Luxaviation Helicopters

+32(0)2 712 53 45

info@luxaviation.com

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Alex Baldwin, Reporter, Corporate Jet Investor

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Alex Baldwin, Reporter, Corporate Jet Investor