Edwin Brenninkmeyer is a genuine aviation all-rounder. Whether flying in a vintage display team, piloting a Citation Excel, or promoting Pilatus via Oriens Aviation, he has flight in his DNA, says Dave Spurdens Snr.
If he is not flying piston biplanes from small grass strips in Kent and Essex, Edwin Brenninkmeyer is taking to the skies with the famous Gnat Display Team from North Weald or indulging his passion for piston aerobatic competitions or swept-wing jet aerobatics, two very different disciplines that he enjoys staying current on.
It may be he is doing none of these things and is fulfilling his role as a corporate jet pilot for Catreus, the private jet charter company piloting a Citation Excel. He aims to fly around four or five trips a month, depending on how busy he is with Oriens. Most of his trips are short-haul , though recently he got to ferry one of their jets to Mumbai. Occasionally he has his feet firmly planted on terra-firma and is using his considerable business acumen to navigate the tortuous corridors of power essential to making a success of a private jet sales and VLJ advisory company.
Edwin Brenninkmeyer is an aviation all-rounder and if the term ‘aviation junkie’ did not have a socially unacceptable tang it could be a moniker he might not object too strongly to adopting.
He hails from a venture capitalist background and back in the mid 2000s operated a fund that was exclusively looking at Very Light Jet operators. One company he invested in, pre-recession, was Linear Air who are based in Bedford Massachuseetts. Edwin is lead investor along with the CEO. Linear has evolved from being a VLJ operator to online marketplace, still aimed at personal air travel to compete with airline prices, interfacing between mainstream online travel agencies such as Kayak and business aviation operators.
“At Linear Air we have multiple operators, including several PC-12 operators signed up to our demand-generation software which interfaces between the OTA’s.
“Linear use Orien’s software, which interfaces between Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) and aircraft bringing a personal travel alternative to those who’ve dismissed extravagant private jets and grown tired of disappointing airline service or tedious drives on snarled-up motorways. If a request goes into an OTA, our software will then search the operators who are signed up with us for availability and pricing before displaying this on the OTA.
“Here in England at Orien we eagerly await European Single Engine IFR approval for commercial operations in Europe to expand our business. These days I am very much
focussed on developing the strong brand for Pilatus in the British Isles while at the same time being ever receptive to other agreements in existence or in the pipeline, that will benefit the other arm of the Oriens brand which is Oriens Advisors”.
Edwin Brenninkmeyer is a unique figure in the aviation world and the fact that he became an avid aviator when there were not the slightest links to flying anywhere in his extended family shows an innate and natural inevitability to take to the skies regardless of family history.
Edwin started flying when he was 14 and soloed close to his 17th birthday. He would have started earlier if he could and the broad range of his involvement in flying speaks volumes for his aviation achievements and ambitions.
He prides himself in pursuing as wide a variety of flying as possible and has always strived to achieve the highest levels of professionalism gaining multiple flying qualifications right up to ATPL level.
He has devoted a lot of his time in the past to the very worthwhile charity ‘Flying Scholarships for Disabled People’.
“I have been chairman of Flying Scholarships for Disabled People and remain a passionate believer in this excellent charity. They award approximately 10 scholarships annually and I am pleased to be able to support the excellent and dedicated team that make this fine work possible, in any way I can”.
Edwin has also been involved in another worthwhile charity, volunteering and fundraising for Fly to Help, giving people the positive benefits of aviation and the wonders of flight for those living with disability; a chronic or life-limiting illness, bereavement, severe abuse, neglect or financial or social isolation.
“I like to remain close to organisations that provide help for people who need it and I feel we have to preserve our passion for the ‘Heritage of British Aviation’, and I am a firm believer that a working knowledge of aerobatics makes you a more rounded aviator and enables me to be part of a team that provides exciting air displays at airfields all over the country,” he says.
“As you can imagine, more recently my focus has been on building sales for Pilatus through Oriens. However, I hope to return and give support to ‘Flying Scholarships’ as soon as possible”.
The Brenninkmeyers have flown to many destinations in their Cessna Turbo 210 for the past eleven years but Edwin confesses he is glad of the opportunity to fly the PC-12 in future.
“The opportunity to fly the PC-12 personally as well as for business will greatly broaden the type of missions I will be able to make, such as, transporting groups of friends with our very young children on skiing holidays, in pressurised comfort.
“Flying 6 or 7 of us with bags to the Alps for two hours at £150 per hour of JetA1 for the whole aircraft as opposed to flying three of us for 3.5 hours at £100 per hour of Avgas makes the PC-12 a surprisingly affordable proposition compared to a thirsty, Avgas burning old 210 from a previous generation. The other factor that appeals immensely to my wife is the luxury of the integral loo when we travel long distances with our baby daughter!”
Frequent flights to the Pilatus factory, which is situated in Stans Buochs on the side of the Lucerne river, are a necessary part of Edwin’s business. Salzburg is a favourite airport for Edwin and he loves the challenging airfield at Courcheval and until recently was flying regularly to Vienna and Prague. He adds; “My wife is from Vilnius in Lithuania so this is another popular non-stop PC-12 jaunt”.
Edwin is known by his fellow Gnats Display team as “Shorty” or Stilts” and still flies regularly in formation at North Weald.
Getting into a Gnat is not easy for Edwin who jokes with his fellow display pilots that he shrinks an inch between getting into the
Gnat in the morning and climbing out later that day.
“I love being part of the Gnats Display Team. The Folland Gnat is such an exhilarating aircraft to fly and the formation displays are so popular,” he says.
“I still fly piston biplanes from small grass strips. The most recent display was in a Stampe biplane at Duxford for the ‘Battle of Britain’ celebrations in 2015. I also enjoy flying the Tiger Club Cap 10 and regularly take part in aerobatic competitions”.
Edwin Brenninkmeyer is without a doubt a consummate aviation enthusiast and participant but he will remind you that right now his primary business objective is to ensure the continuing success of the Pilatus PC-12 NG in the UK and he sees a very rosy future indeed for this aircraft and the upcoming Pilatus PC-24.
“I am really excited about the PC-24 and Pilatus have every right to bill it as ‘The Super Versatile Jet’,” says Edwin.
“This plane has so much going for it and will be a winner whichever way you look at it. It can do everything that its competitors can do, and more because it can operate on shorter and unimproved runways, it costs less and no doubt will be more economical to run. Add that to the changes made to the PC-12 NG and I think Pilatus look set to make great strides forward in their particular markets and we at Oriens Aviation are pleased to be a very important part of it”.