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Balancing the Grind with Rick Pegus, General Manager & Chief Pilot at Navair

Rick Pegus is the General Manager & Chief Pilot at Navair, an Australian-owned and operated private jet hire, aircraft charter, and aviation consulting company.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role? 

I was born in Mildura and have had a passion for aviation since the age of four. As one of five children, my parents didn’t have enough money to put me through flying school so when I turned 18, I joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to kickstart my dream career.

I started as an avionics technician where I learnt the foundations of aircraft and learnt how to fly privately. This experience allowed me to develop a strong skill-set in aviation and I had received my pilot’s licence by the time I was 19.

After spending six years at the RAAF, I left with a Commercial Licence and Instructor Rating. I then took a job with Basair for a couple of years as a flight instructor. 

After 9/11, there were limited jobs in aviation, so I took a sales job at a Mercedes Benz dealership. While I was still working at Mercedes, I started a charter broking business for flights in 2005, and then bought a charter operation business in 2007 when I resigned from Mercedes.

We won significant transport contracts with organisations such as NSW Health and NSW Police, and we were the first company in Australia to operate a Cessna Citation Mustang.

I bought NAVAIR in 2015 and merged my other two businesses into the NAVAIR brand to create the luxury private aircraft company that exists today. We offer an extensive fleet of private charter jets, helicopters, pistons, and turboprops which fly to and from the majority of airports in Australia and also International Destinations. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday? 

Every day is different as a chief pilot and the general manager of NAVAIR. Often my schedule involves a lot of flying, which can start at 5 am. As an example, all within one day I could fly up to Cairns, back to Sydney, then to Melbourne and back to Sydney.

Other days are more office-based, where I catch up on administration and attend business meetings. Sometimes I might be working from a hotel room interstate whilst away on a charter, catching up on emails and making calls to clients.  

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Yes, it does to a certain extent, however, my life works more around the business and sometimes that involves last-minute shifts in my routine. For example, I might be driving to dinner with my family, and then suddenly receive a call to do a last-minute charter. 

That being said, during lockdown I did hold more meetings through Zoom and would do any admin tasks from home. But at its core, being a pilot inherently means that you can’t work from home, and I definitely have to come into work. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal? 

Achieving work-life balance can be challenging as the chief pilot and general manager of NAVAIR, but I am a strong believer that if you enjoy what you do for work, this will never be an issue.

The most important thing to me is spending time with my family, which fortunately I do get time to do. Also, whilst I am away on a charter, I may have some time to relax which is always nice.   

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Due to COVID, there have been some negative impacts on my routine. I usually exercise more while travelling, which I haven’t been able to do since I have been confined to hotel rooms during lockdowns.

On the upside, isolation has saved me from catching COVID, but it hasn’t been beneficial for my health due to a lack of exercise and eating room service food. Now that lockdowns are over, I am looking forward to getting out of the hotel room and reviving my fitness regime.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?                           

A favourite book of mine is The Go Getter.  It is a small book that takes a couple hours to read. Another favourite is How To Win Friends And Influence People – both are incredibly inspiring and motivating. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without? 

I use my Bose A20 noise cancelling Bluetooth headset whenever I’m flying. Apps that are also essential for me as a pilot are Flight Aware and Weather Zone.  

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?                 

Business coach Marco Robert. I did a course with him about a year ago for about three months and it was life-changing. I would be interested to see how he balances his busy work schedule.  

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our  readers? 

The idea of work-life balance is a great concept, but during periods of difficulty and uncertainty such as COVID, it can go out the window. As a business owner, you need to do whatever it takes to survive as a business so you can get back to having work-life balance once things go back to ‘normal’. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.