Jim Gruneisen, ATP, CFI, CFII, SES
8,100 hours

BPT Ground and Flight Instructor Jim Gruneisen is PIC for numerous political dignitaries and celebrities, as well as air ambulance flights for critically ill patients. BPT TAKEOFF visited with Jim about his career in aviation.

BPT:   Jim, tell us about your start in aviation.

JG:     I hate to date myself too much, but I started building little airplanes with my erector set when I was a really young kid. Then I started building model airplanes – and after that, U-Fly airplanes.

When I graduated from college, I tried to get into the Air Force. Unfortunately, my eyes weren’t good enough, so I ended up having to get a job to earn money for fuel. After a couple of years of working, I bought a Cherokee 180 and learned to fly.

BPT:     How did you begin flying Beechcraft?

JG:       When I bought N18360, my B55 Baron, I wanted to get some training. I actually didn’t even have a multi-engine rating when I bought the Baron so, I went got my multi-engine rating from a local guy, who was a Part 135 instructor /pilot. Problem was, he didn’t know much about Barons, either.

BPT:     What did you do?

JG:       I joined the American Bonanza Society. It was there that I learned about BPPP program. I was working at Hewlett-Packard at the time and a couple of my co-workers were involved in it, so, I decided to try it. My first clinic was in Deer Valley, Arizona.

BPT:    What happened after your first clinic in Arizona?

JG:      I continued to attend the clinics through the years. Eventually, the BPPP team decided I could fly well enough to instruct, as well. Now, of course, I am with BPT.

BPT:    What do you think is the biggest draw for BPT customers?

JG:     I think it depends on whether pilots come here on a repeat basis or they come for the first time. The first time they come, they’re absorbing all of the information. They love the opportunity to talk to other people – and they really like the flying, too.

After pilots come to BPT on a repeat basis, they form some long-term friendships. A lot of people say they enjoy the flying the most. When you talk to them about what you learned, it really comes from the ground school. They pick up new things, but they also reinforce the things that they’ve already learned during the flight training portion.