October 20, 2011

Former Air Force One pilot to speak at banquet

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Greg M. Cayon, the director of aviation and business travel for the Kohler Co. and a former presidential pilot for Air Force One, is the featured speaker at the 2011 “Aviation in the Future” banquet later this month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The banquet is Friday, Oct. 28, and coincides with the aviation program’s 17th annual career fair earlier in the day.  Banquet doors open at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Center’s Ballroom D, and there is a reception that starts at 5:30 p.m.

The aviation career fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Student Center Ballrooms A, B. and C, and approximately 25 aviation-related firms are expected, said David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight.  In addition, an aviation career panel featuring several speakers from various aviation fields will hold a discussion at 2 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium.  The career fair and career panel are free to students and open to all majors, not just aviation majors.

At the banquet, Cayon will talk about his experiences as a pilot aboard Air Force One.  He was a pilot and aircraft commander on Air Force One from April 1997 to 2000, and was the youngest pilot ever to fly the aircraft when chosen.  Among his travels, Cayon piloted the historic flight in February 1999 that brought President Bill Clinton, and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford to Amman, Jordan, for King Hussein’s funeral.

Cayon said his presentation will give “an insider view of the aircraft, mission and people that make up Air Force One.”  Only eight pilots at any one time are presidential pilots, he said.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the career fair and banquet.  For more information, contact David A. NewMyer at 618/453-8898.

 From May 2004 to November 2006, while still with the U.S. Air Force, Cayon was an instructor pilot on Air Force One, responsible for safe air transportation of the president, first family, White House staff, and others.  He was also program manager for all classified programs dealing with presidential air transportation totaling more than $1.2 billion, and the Presidential Airlift Group executive officer.

Flying Air Force One was “very demanding, as well as rewarding,” Cayon said.  “Being a part of history as it is being made is very exciting.  I was able to travel the world and not only meet and know two sitting presidents (Clinton and George W. Bush) but three others (Carter, Ford and George H.W. Bush) while piloting Air Force One.”

Cayon retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force in December 2006, going to work for Kohler, Inc., in Kohler, Wis.  His responsibilities include a corporate flight department of four turbojet aircraft, an annual operating budget of more than $9 million, and managing a team of 17 aviation personnel that includes pilots, maintenance technicians and schedulers to execute worldwide operations of approximately 2,000 annual flight hours.

Cayon said it is important for students to consider corporate aviation positions. Corporate aviation is different than the airlines, and rewarding for many reasons, including variety and stability, he said.  Cayon said his department at Kohler Inc. has had pilots with the company for upward of 37 years.

“Corporate aviation continually challenges pilots by flying to potentially hundreds of locations both internationally and domestically,” he said.  “Airlines fly on scheduled routes and much of the planning is done by the company.  Corporate aviation can also be a very stable career, as most companies with established flight departments tend to rely on these departments as enablers for a competitive edge.”

A native of Winthrop, Mass., Cayon attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics in 1986, and commissioned as a second lieutenant.  He flew Lockheed C-141 transport aircraft from 1987 to 1993, logging more than 3,400 hours and more than 1,000 hours as an instructor/evaluator, serving in operations in Panama, Somalia, Iraq, and Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  From 1993 to 2000, Cayon flew Gulfstream III and Gulfstream IV aircraft, transporting officials including the president, vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, and members of Congress.

Cayon has more than 7,500 hours in turbojets, and more than 1,400 hours in instructor/evaluator time.  He earned a master’s in military arts and sciences in 2001 from Air University in Montgomery, Ala., and a master’s of business administration from City University in Bellevue, Wash.

“I’m always excited to talk to young pilots about my experiences not only on Air Force One, but my evolution within the aviation career field,” he said.  “My favorite part of presenting is answering questions from aviation enthusiasts.”

Christopher Fischer, a senior majoring in aviation management and flight with a minor in airport planning and management, is president of the Aviation Management Society, a registered student organization. Fischer, who is from Crystal Lake, anticipates Cayon will have some advice for students, and hopes it inspires “those who attend to do great things and to never give up on their passion, hopes and goals.”

“One thing I learned this past summer while interning for American Airlines is that the aviation industry is both small yet extremely diverse,” Fischer said.  “It is important for any student to diversify themselves as much as possible by exploring all aspects of the industry.  It’s my hope that what people take away from Greg's speech is that there is no one set path for any career. It is always important to have a backup and that life is what happens while you are off making other plans.”

During the awards banquet, aviation students will receive approximately 16 scholarship worth an estimated $32,000.

Tickets are $30 for adults and non-students, and $15 for SIUC students. Tickets are available by calling SIUC’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight at 618/453-8898, or at the aviation flight dispatch counter at Southern Illinois Airport at 618/453-1147.  Tickets are available from any Aviation Management Society member; tickets will be held at the door for purchase, and those interested can contact Fischer, the organization president, by email at cfischer@siu.edu, or NewMyer, at dnewmyer@aviation.siu.edu.

The career fair is for more than students majoring in aviation-related programs, NewMyer said.  The career fair is also attractive to students majoring in business, communication, and engineering-related fields.

The career fair earlier in the day will attract approximately 26 companies, including regional airlines, NewMyer said.  Career fair participants include Air Wisconsin, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, The Boeing Company, Cape Air, Compass Airlines, Delta Airlines, Elliott Aviation, Great Lakes Aviation, Jet Support Services, Inc., Mesaba Airlines, Southwest Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Trans State Airlines, Wood Dale-based AAR Corp., Ricondo and Associates aviation consultants, the Air Line Pilots Association, and Landrum & Brown, an aviation consulting company.

The aviation career panel will feature Omar Baig, a first officer with Southwest Airlines; Doug Gibbs, a first officer and chair of the American Eagle Airline Pilots Association negotiating committee; Dan Johanson, an operations officer with Monterey Regional Airport; and Jay Osberg, a fleet manager and captain with Colgan Air, Inc.