“For as long as I can remember I’ve always been around pilots, many of whom are good friends. I’m passionate about aviation but I’m also entrepreneurial by nature, which is how I’ve ended up developing several businesses within the aviation sector,” says Juan Cabañero, owner of Airpull Aviation.
He explains that during the 80s he was busy establishing and managing different companies, so it wasn’t until the end of the 90s that he was able to focus his attention on flying. It was during this period that he obtained his pilot’s license enabling him to fly a twin-engine aircraft before ultimately achieving his commercial pilot’s license in 2000.
In 2012 Cabañero started Airpull Aviation. The EASA approved flight training academy also offers an aircraft rental service, scenic flight experiences, aerial advertising and photography services. Cabañero also manages two airfields: Requena (where Airpull is based) and Soria in Spain. His company also has bases in Totana (Murcia) and Ibiza, while Requena Airfield is also home to the Valencia Air Club, which Cabañero runs.
His background in running and owning different businesses has stood Cabañero in good stead when it comes to juggling multiple airfields and all the different elements of Airpull Aviation.
“I bring the know-how in managing, training and organising different teams,” he says. “One of the first things I did at Airpull was to appoint managers in each location we operate to oversee a team of local staff. Every day I make a round of calls with each of those managers to ensure I’m updated on any developments. It’s also an opportunity to explore solutions to any problems that have arisen, such as excess water in a fuel tank or lack of supplies etc. That’s why, he adds, relationships with valued and trusted companies, such as Air bp, are crucial for our day-to-day operations. “Of course, the safe and reliable supply of fuel and a high-quality service is one aspect. But our collaboration goes above and beyond that. Air bp has helped with training our personnel and supporting us with any difficulties that have arisen. Their team is not only professional but truly understands this sector.”
One element of his role Cabañero really enjoys is organising and supporting aviation events, including the Spanish Aerobatic Flight Championship. First held in 2015, the event came about after Cabañero contacted a handful of pilots he knew to arrange a friendly contest.
“It started out with a just a few competitors and one judge as a low-key event. Now it’s an annual televised championship that attracts around 50 pilots and some of the best judges in the world. It’s watched live by more than 10,000 spectators and broadcast to more than 200 different countries with 80 million television viewers.”
Being an aerobatic pilot is about much more than being a daredevil offers Cabañero.
“You have to be disciplined, methodical and have a total passion for all things aviation. It’s also a vocation that requires deep knowledge of the aircraft being flown and an understanding of how everything works. Performing loops and flying inverted below 2,000 ft requires extensive testing and flight hours as well as nerves of steel.”
Airpull also organises the Gliding Championship in Garray (Soria), which is pulling in more visitors year on year.
Understandably as a result of COVID-19 Airpull’s events originally scheduled for this year have been postponed.
“As an industry we have never experienced anything like this, which has caused great uncertainty” says Cabañero. “However, I am confident that general and business aviation will rebound quickly.” He adds that, “We are already seeing enquiries regarding travel on small private aircraft, which have been able to adapt quickly to the current situation in terms of being more flexible and able to cater to social distancing requirements. Ultimately I do believe that the industry is resilient and it will bounce back.”
In terms of how Airpull is responding to the pandemic, Cabañero believes some of the changes to the way in which business is conducted have been for the better.
“We are conducting more videoconference sessions between teachers and students. Remote learning wasn’t something we were doing previously, but we will continue to offer it in the future. We are also working on increasing our disinfection protocols. We’ve all had to adapt to the situation and reinvent ways in which we conduct our business. But that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.”
On a personal level Cabañero reveals that one thing he’s missed the most during the lockdown period is the flights and lunches that take place most weekends from Requena Airfield.
“They provide me with the opportunity to sit down and spend time with the air club members.”
As for where he hopes to travel next once he can, Cabañero doesn’t hesitate.
“I can’t wait to fly to Soria to finish my glider pilot license, as I have now completed my simulator training.”
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