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Captain Jetson Aviation and Travel News (Captainjetson.com) was started by Les in 2018 with aviation and airline news as the primary niche. Of course, travel ties in with flying, so the travel-in-general topics became a secondary niche.
“The site was initially intended as a fun hobby of mine to learn about Word Press, just to present to family and friends”.
Les wanted to get into a hobby before he had to mandatory pilot age-retire for his airline in less than three years. Within a year after launching the site it unexpectedly became a popular resource for insider aviation and travel news and topics for all readers interested in the topics.
Les became interested in travel when he was a child, constantly curious about the world and learning about the world, from geography to destinations.
“The interest in writing took off in college, which included classes in journalism and media”.
As a college graduate Les was admitted into two different choices of studies:
“It was a choice of accepting my medical school admission to become a medical doctor or flight training school admission to become a jet pilot. My choice was flying because it offered unlimited opportunities to fly jets and to realize my travel dreams in the future”.
A major deciding factor to get into flying was his girlfriend at the time. They went to a military air show. Admiring the pilots after the flying show Les’s girlfriend said she would be so proud to see him in one of those pilot flight suits someday.
“I started Flying in 1978. Becoming a pilot resulted in travel opportunities like few others will ever have. Seeing the entire world many times over and getting paid top dollars for doing so while being in charge of multi-million dollar jets as an airline captain was a great choice”.
In 1987 Les got hired as an airline pilot for a major U.S. airline. Today he is still a captain for that airline. 28,000 hours of his life has been spent in jet cockpits, and he has been travelling to and exploring every country and area of the world, except North Korea, the Arctic and Antarctica.
Rather than a blog, Captain Jetson Aviation and Travel News (Captainjetson) is a free “Insider” online news-publication, a top authority source of aviation and travel information. The site is now run by an experienced team of a combined 300 years or so of aviation, full-time airline and travel professionals who enjoy writing about aviation and travel.
Interestingly, most early website referrals came from social media, such as Pinterest, where Les first presented the site as a blog as opposed to the news-site it was intended to be.
“Then our articles got SEO-optimized to be found in search engines. Next, we became a Google News-approved site, now with most articles published getting listed in Google Top Stories as well as on the number one page of Google search pages”.
Everybody on the website-team is volunteers. Many of Les’s journalist-volunteers have decades of professional airline experience, from airline pilots to airline and aviation management and travel agency professionals. Some are professional journalists too, whose day job is to write for major news - aviation and travel publications.
“Next, a couple of my long-time friends wanted to volunteer, who truly helped the popularity of the website grow. One volunteer is the Editor for a major US news-publication, while the other friend runs a specialized article placement SEO agency”.
During the lockdown, Les has mostly stayed on the ground at home in Los Angeles, still as a pilot for his airline. Very few international are currently active. He has done a lot of pilot union volunteering as well as other administrative tasks.
Les chose not to fly during the pandemic for two reasons:
“1. After 33 years as an airline pilot, I am more than satisfied after spending my life on aeroplanes, airports, hotel rooms, not sleeping in my own bed, always eating out, and seeing the same exotic places around the world hundreds of times.
2. Personally, I prefer not to be inside those “enclosed metal tubes” called aeroplanes during the pandemic. Excellent cabin air filtration or not, I do not wish to take that chance of exposure to the virus, potentially putting my family in danger at home. Medical professionals admit they don’t have a full understanding of the virus yet, i.e. what’s the full implications of the airborne dosage contagiousness-potential of the virus?
The pandemic will pass, but this will take a long time I believe”.
The ability to live “life as usual’ has affected Les like it has for everybody else on earth. Ever-changing country travel-restrictions, an ever-changing status of the coronavirus and limited flights have impacted his ability to go visit his mom in Europe, among other things. Mass-layoffs of employees across the entire tourism and travel industry hurts everybody, Les included, although he is still employed.
“The sad truth is, the impact has devastated travel and tourism for a long time to come for all of us. Unless we can bike, drive or hike to a destination on our own, getting to places have become complicated. This, on turn, has been devastating on the entire travel and tourism industry.
Les states that it appears the industry will drastically and permanently change. First, it will be years before the industry will recover to 2019-levels.
“We’ll also see a whole new set of rules for travelling. For example, mandatory mask-wearing could become the norm, unless COVID-19 can be eradicated completely, which is not likely. Once an effective vaccine is available we should begin to see a good recovery. Furthermore, the world is now aware that pandemics do come and go. This modern-day virus-experience has taught us to better prepare for the next pandemic”.
Thanks to the wonderful expansion of internet capabilities Les believes the digital nomad industry won’t suffer. Rather, it should grow even more now that so many people are discovering this new industry.
“Using telecommunications technologies to earn a living, allowing a nomadic reality allows people to work remotely from anywhere in the world”.
He also thinks that Eco-tourism is a wonderful growing trend! As more people are becoming painfully aware as to the devastating climate-destruction the earth is faced with more people will seek towards the natural environment for travel and tourism solutions.
“This new form of tourism mainly brought to light by the millennial generation, allows people to visit and help preserve the pristine and fragile natural environment as an alternative to commercial mass tourism”.
Les tries to live by these standards as much as possible. For example, he loves to explore the wilderness and exotic places on foot. “It puts you in touch with nature”.
His advice to others is to never stop exploring and learning new things. Aim for the sky, because it is indeed obtainable!
A top destination he would recommend for when we can travel again is Tahiti, French Polynesia. The 118 islands of French Polynesia is one of the last remaining true paradises on Earth, and it has been his favourite destination for 30 years.
“For work, I used to fly the Los Angeles to Papeete DC-10 route for years. But I also spent much of my time there during my private vacations”.