From an early age —in one case, literally from birth— Naples charter jet pilots learn to fly (and love) the friendly skies
Literally from his first days of life, Matthew Vos’ birthright was clear, thanks to his father, a pilot who flew his 2-day-old newborn home from a Missouri hospital while retrieving a jet for his then-corporate employer.
The trip was brief: 50 miles as the crow flies, or just a handful of minutes of flight time. But the impression was indelible, instilling a lifelong fascination with flying that now sees the father-son duo working as pilots for Elite Jets, a charter aircraft service whose luxury Embraer jets fly affluent business and leisure travelers to destinations across the U.S. and worldwide.
“I don’t remember that, obviously,” Matthew Vos said of his first flight with dad, Kent Vos, a Phenom 300 and Legacy 500 captain at the Naples Airport-based business. What the younger Vos does recall, quite clearly, is learning the ropes at his father’s side.
Those lessons began as a toddler, accompanying his dad on work trips in a single-engine, six-seat Beechcraft A36 Bonanza.
“He would be teaching me how to maintain altitude, how to read instruments, how to adjust flying conditions during adverse weather - and I wasn’t even tall enough to look out the window,” said Matthew Vos, who also works as a local real estate broker and documented his unique childhood in a YouTube video.
Father’s Day 2023 will be a decidedly family affair at Elite Jets, where Matthew Vos’ younger brother Josh, an aviation mechanic, also works. A second pair of father-son pilots also mans the cockpits there, with a similar familial origin story. Once again, a childhood fascination with flying ultimately led to two generations astride the Elite Jets runway.
In Patrick Teszler’s case, it was a memorable flight from Atlanta to visit family members in Kansas, with stormy weather outside the aircraft “just captivating” the 3-year-old. By age 9, he was mastering high-tech flight simulations on a home computer, with a gravitas not normally seen in typical tweens.
“I was just blown away by his knowledge and aptitude,” said dad Matt Simpson, director of operations at
Elite Jets. “Even at 9 years old, he was so focused on doing everything by the book.”
Simpson’s corporate flight plans routinely took him through South Carolina, where Teszler and his mother were living at the time. From the sky, Simpson would call his pilot-in-waiting when flying over the boy’s home.
As a teen, while other kids would hang out at Coastland Mall or the Naples Pier, Teszler would join his father in the jump seat on work flights when space was available, traveling across the country and abroad.
By the time he graduated high school, he had already qualified as a flight instructor, immediately starting work at the campus airport in his first semester of college. A decade later, Teszler remains Simpson’s biggest fan.
“I learned everything I know about flying from Matt,” said his son, who joined Elite Jets in January 2022 as a Phenom 300 first officer. “I can’t think of a better person to show me how it’s done.”
Elite Jets’ penchant for hiring father-son pilots is no accident, said Stephen Myers, CAM, the company’s senior vice president.
“Our business is grounded in safety, convenience, luxury and personal relationships,” he said. “Plenty of workplaces boast about being family-friendly and embracing family values. In our case, this is not just hyperbole. We truly are a business made up of families.”
Teszler is actually a third-generation pilot. His grandfather, Simpson’s dad, was a World War II naval aviator, navigator and radar operator who flew the Gruman TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber looking for enemy submarines.
Like much of the Greatest Generation, Simpson’s father rarely talked about his combat duty. But from the “gleam in Dad’s eyes” on Sunday drives from their Kentucky home to the big-city airport near Cincinnati, Ohio, Simpson saw how the WWII veteran’s mood would lighten when it came to talking about airplanes.
“To see him light up like that, I was so enamored,” Simpson said. “It just instilled in me a love of flying.”
By age 14, Simpson would ride his bicycle to the hometown Blue Grass Airport in the college town of Lexington, washing private planes for their owners in exchange for an hour of flight instruction, here and there. His path was set.
These days, the father-son pilots look fondly on those formative years. They simultaneously treasure the
occasional opportunities to fly side-by-side on behalf of Elite Jets, strengthening a camaraderie that is unique even in what is already a tight-knit industry.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Simpson said, describing those modern-day father-son work trips. “This warm glow comes over me. It’s almost surreal. It feels like a fairy tale, that we’re able to experience this together.”