Five Minutes with John Springthorpe

021D1F34-9CFF-434C-AC98-F039CD2ED362CJP Member Since: 2014

Occupation: Retired (former owner/CEO of digital printing and mailing business)

Current Aircraft: CJ3+ and T-34A

Home Base: KMWK, Mount Airy/Surry County in Mount Airy, NC (Mayberry)

Number of Years Flying: 36 years since I earned my Private, but I did not fly for seven years when starting my business

Total Time: 3,364 hours

  1. Can you summarize your background in aviation?

I first flew with my Dad out of the local cow-pasture airport when I was six years old. My grandmother lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, and my Dad had a friend who owned a Cessna 182 that he would borrow for us to fly there from North Carolina. I took a couple of lessons when I was 16 but did not get serious about flying until I was working in South Korea where I had privileges on an Air Force base that allowed me to fly at the Aero Club. That is where I earned my Private Pilot certificate.

Until the business grew, my flying was for family travel and pleasure. Once we had offices in multiple states it became a business necessity, but the pleasure of flight never left me. Over the last 10 years, I have traveled throughout the world in my airplane and I explored other areas of aviation through upset recovery courses and by earning type ratings for the Citation Mustang and the Citation Jet and a B-25 Mitchell Bomber.

  1. What aircraft have you owned? What led to your purchase of a Citation?

I owned a series of airplanes before buying my CJ3+. My first was a Cessna 172 formerly owned by Embry-Riddle (it was much more experienced than me). After my flying hiatus, I bought a Piper Dakota, followed by a Piper Saratoga in which I earned my Instrument Rating. I was then fortunate to buy my first new airplane, a Piper Seneca V. That was followed by a Piper Meridian, my first turboprop. Unfortunately, the year was 2008 and business conditions forced priorities other than having an aircraft, so it was sold and for a short while I did not fly. Things quickly improved for us, and I purchased a TBM 850 in 2009, which I owned until buying a Citation M2 in 2014, followed by the CJ3+ in 2017. Along the way, in addition to those primary aircraft, I have owned a Piper Sport, a Waco YMF, a Piper Arrow, a Pilatus PC-7 and now the T-34.

The purchase of the first Citation was driven by a desire to do more as a pilot. The extra speed, altitude and cabin comfort compared to the turboprop were nice, but I really wanted to prove I could be a better, more precise pilot and meet the standards of jet operations.

  1. How does Citation ownership benefit and enhance your life? Typical mission?

Before I retired, our company had plants in five states. Except for Arizona, the Citation made day trips out of visits to all of them. From North Carolina it was 500 miles to Alabama, Wisconsin and New Jersey. I could carry myself and three others, and we would work until mid-afternoon and then fly home for dinner. Everyone benefited from the enhanced quality of life versus the multi-day trips an airline would have required. For my family, the airplane opened up the entire world for us. My wife and I have flown to more than 70 countries, including flying around the world, both east-bound and west-bound. The quarantines of 2020 have given us an even greater appreciation for the good fortune we enjoyed by making those trips.

For business, the typical trip was 500 miles with 3 or 4 people. Following retirement and prior to COVID-19, the typical mission in the United States was two people making trips of 200 to 1,500 miles. My business trips today are usually solo day trips in the southeast United States. We try to go to the Caribbean for my wife’s birthday in January and do a more formal trip somewhere outside of the U.S. with Air Journey.

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  1. What do you find is the most valuable part of being a member of CJP?

The most valuable thing for me is the online forums. There is a wealth of information in the membership. Nearly any question will find an authoritative answer somewhere in the group. Second would be the CJP convention, which combines a valuable social opportunity with well thought out and well-presented safety information. I think being a part of CJP also helps when I am dealing with Textron. Textron respects the organization and that lends another voice to conversations with the manufacturer.

  1. Can you describe your most memorable trip in a Citation?

In 2019, my wife and I flew around the world. From North Carolina to Dubai we were by ourselves. In Dubai we joined a great group of people led by the team from Air Journey. We flew 68 hours in 29 flights over 57 days to 20 countries. We crossed the Atlantic from Canada to the Azores and spent a couple of days with another Air Journey group in Madeira. We then flew to Minorca to refuel and overnighted in Crete. Next, there was a fuel stop in Egypt before meeting the group in Dubai.

From there, the group, consisting of three M2s, my CJ3+ and a Phenom 300, flew to India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Bali, Malaysia, Vietnam, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and Russia before landing back in the United States. The trip is memorable because of the people we were with and the places we visited.

One aviation memory of note is flying a long leg over the Bay of Bengal into Thailand and being told by ATC I did not have a flight plan and was denied entry into the country. I explained I had a landing permit, but she did not care. After being directed into the last of three different holds, I finally said I would have to declare minimum fuel. At that point, my flight plan problems disappeared, and I was cleared to land. Oh, the joys of international flying! The trip was an adventure, but a well-equipped CJ3+ and the team from Air Journey made it easy.