At Double M, we enjoy hearing from our customers about what makes general aviation special to them. We recently sat down with Tom Dillon, the owner and pilot of a Cessna 414 that we have maintained since 2017. We wanted to know how he got started in aviation, what he enjoys most, and why owning a Cessna 414 is so special to him.
My father did aerial photography and I started riding with him when I was five years old. At nine years old, I began hands-on flying in an AT-6, and my first airplane was a Mooney M-18 Mite that my father bought me for my 16th birthday.
I soloed at 16 out of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport after a few hours of working with an instructor who was an old family friend. He helped me smooth out some of the rough edges I had picked up from my flying with my dad. I got my commercial rating at 18, and had my airline transport pilot certification by the time I was 25.
Although my family’s business is in photography, a high school friend connected me with a job as a charter pilot, where I flew a Seneca out of Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back for day trips.
I mostly enjoy the ride. The wings on the newer models aren’t so rigid, so they act kind of like shock absorbers. It makes the ride more comfortable. Also, I wanted a pressurized, air-conditioned, turbocharged airplane without paying a fortune for it and that is the Cessna 414. Way back in the day I flew one for a charter company, so it is kind of coming full circle.
It’s been about two years now. It was luck, really. A friend (another longtime customer of Double M) referred me to you. Now you can’t get rid of me. It took some work on your part, but I have never had a plane run this good.
After my first piloting job flying day trips to the Bahamas, I made my way up the ladder to fly commercially. But I don’t really enjoy the business side of aviation. So I started a Part 135 and went back to flying to the Bahamas and circling the islands for day trips. I did that for about five years before deciding to sell.
More recently, I’ve been assisting with dog rescues by transporting dogs, over a thousand of them so far. And I use the plane to fly between Central Florida and my new house in North Carolina. But most of the time I fly just for giggles, it’s my best flying yet.
To learn more about our inspections and to schedule an aircraft inspection or maintenance, call us at 863-940-3450.