“A university degree or college diploma is not the only route to a successful career... - Different careers require different approaches,” - John Edmund Tanner Brunskill
By Yashivan Govender
Being a Pilot is the dream career of many and the ambition of the brave. With speeds that make some stomachs churn and eyes light up – it is a career that is more of an adventure than a job. I have met John Edmund Tanner Brunskill (aptly shortened to “Jet”) a few times and his mentioning that he is a pilot has led to multiple discussions about his career. So when I finally lined up an interview with him and he fittingly arrives at our meeting rendezvous in central Munich on a Ducati. Blaring away and revving the engine on his bike, you can imagine a constant need for speed in his blood.
The ear popping sound of the Ducati is put to rest as we head off for a coffee to chat about the life of a pilot amongst other things. First up, the safety of riding a motorbike, he is wearing armour plated jeans for safe cycling! Even though he looks like Robocop, he doesn’t seem phased in anyway.You have to admire the fact that he values safety even on a means of transportation that is slower than what he is employed to operate.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, his training as a pilot began after he completed his schooling in England - when he joined The Royal Navy (RN) a branch of the British Armed Forces.
“A university degree or college diploma is not the only route to a successful career, I took a route that was structured and geared towards being a military pilot. Different careers require different approaches,” explains Brunskill.
When I mentioned the Hollywood fantasies of pilot themed movies he raises a learned eyebrow to rubbish my thoughts. Being a pilot I learn is a lot more than what Tony Scott seems to have wanted us to think. Jet explains it is a mixture of hard work, time scheduling and being able to fit into a bigger picture.
His adventures of being a pilot have taken him from being a helicopter pilot flying the Sea King military aircraft to the more commercial Gulfstream which he currently flies as a private jet pilot. It was his time in the military, which I find extremely exciting, between holding the fort in the Caribbean to doing an exchange with the German navy, where he learnt to speak the language. Jet seems to have found a melting pot for a career in the military that somehow merged the managing of aeronautical manoeuvres and travelling the planet. Though his post navy career is nothing short of awesome, he travels the planet piloting flights for a private aviation company. It is still that military charm that illustrates his focussed credibility.
“I somehow managed to miss the wars and military conflicts that actually happened during my time in the Navy, it is a mixture of luck and good fortune if you think about it retrospectively,” Jet puts forward.
Jet continues, “…the Navy provided a packaged route for my career and now I am able to continue my career in a more flexible nature.”
Packaged by the military and built for the world, he motivates that the military is probably one of the best ways to become a pilot. Young individuals seeking adventure and outlets to let out their energy, will do no better justice to themselves than by becoming a pilot. Wild at heart yet stern in terms of safety, Jet epitomizes the modern day pilot as he ventures back into his Ducati safety advice. At this point I dare not raise any ideas of Hollywood inspired motorcycle movies. Although I do ask him of any hair-raising career incidents, which he then motions towards a cricket match and being hit by a stray ball whilst batting for a local club team. His safety sermon continues with the importance of wearing a helmet when playing cricket…
As we set off on our different paths, Jet fires up his bike to take on the rush of the autobahn, of course wearing all his various safety apparel. He seems to fit the bill of a pilot controlling his career as one would an aircraft – valuing the concept of safety first, risk later!