Grade Tech is proud to welcome Leonard Cobb, Corporate Pilot, to the team! Leonard is an experienced pilot and aircraft mechanic, spending 20 years with the major airlines in aircraft maintenance and more than 2 decades in the cockpit. He retired when Covid shut down the airline industry in 2021. Not one to be idle, he began working part time as an aircraft mechanic at South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan (Utah). He then decided to get back into the cockpit and started looking for an opportunity which would allow him to work for and with people he respects, and a schedule that would allow him to be home almost every night.
Mutual acquaintances introduced Leonard to Rory Hall and Leonard joined the team in November 2022. He not only serves as the pilot, but also manages all the maintenance on the corporate plane.
Leonard explained that the Grade Tech job was the right fit at the right time. “It was the right kind of flying because it’s local and the character of the bosses is what I was looking for,” he said. “Rory and Billy are typically flexible with their schedules and Rory is very understanding—he offers me the opportunity to go home on those trips that would require a lengthy layover, rather than sitting idle in a hotel. He takes care of his people and I appreciate that.”
Rory Hall is as happy to have Leonard on the team as Leonard is to be here. He said that he appreciates Leonard’s approach to flying and safety. “Leonard is a great asset to the Grade Tech team. He knows his stuff and always takes the safety of his passengers and his aircraft into consideration before departing on a trip,” he explained. “If it’s bad weather and it’s not safe to fly, he will give it to me straight.”
Leonard started flying when he was a junior in high school. After graduation he obtained his private pilot’s license. Drawn to the mechanical side of flying, he began his aviation career in aircraft maintenance and went on to work for some cargo and passenger airlines. He explained his interest in mechanics by saying, “I’ve always been a fan of mechanical things; I enjoy understanding how things work and I have a kind of fixit persona, a troubleshooter I might say. I’ve always enjoyed the more industrial and primitive machinery in life, things from the early industrial age like antique cars, bi-planes, steam locomotives, steam-punk art.
After 20 years in maintenance, he decided to get his commercial pilot’s license. He said that it took great passion and perseverance to be a professional pilot. “You have to pay personal and financial dues before you can get in with corporate flight departments and the airlines. You are required to have all your pilot ratings and around 1,000 hours of flight time to become qualified for most flying jobs, to get there one typically spends 3-5 years of flight instructing, banner towing, parachute flying, we call it time building —all while you’re making minimum money. It’s a commitment.” At age 42, after completing his requirements, Leonard began flying regional jets for Continental Express Airlines. After 8 years, he moved on to fly 737s with Continental and then United Airlines.
When asked what keeps him flying, Leonard said that he loves the isolation and solitude of it. He explained, “There’s something surreal about removing yourself from the planet. When you get to the high altitudes it all starts to blend together, you don’t see the definition of humanity, all the hustle and bustle is left behind.” He added, “You are flying amongst the clouds and there are some spectacular sunsets and sunrises when you’re at 30,000-40,000 feet.” He also likes the camaraderie amongst pilots, a group which he describes as “a diverse group of people with different backgrounds.”
Leonard hopes to remain flying for Grade Tech for as long as he is capable and can pass his flight physicals. He would also love for the company to hire a part-time pilot whom he can mentor to replace him someday, but not too soon!. “I enjoy flight instruction, so it would also be rewarding to take a young pilot on board to mentor them,” he explained.
When he’s not on the job, Leonard loves spending time with his family which includes three step-daughters, one adopted daughter and 5 grandkids. He enjoys camping, boating, motorcycling and of course, he also enjoys recreational flying. He will fly up to Jackson Hole for the weekend, take a tour of Southern Utah or off to antique aircraft shows. He has an interest in “very cool” old cars from the 1920s and 30s and likes to play cards and games (chess and scrabble) and gamble, primarily Black Jack—but only when he’s winning!
Please join us in welcoming Leonard to the Grade Tech team!