Meet Adam Fuller: overcoming obstacles in the name of aviation

By Natasha McKenty | February 25, 2022

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 4 seconds.

Adam Fuller, the current chief pilot at Private Air Inc., fell in love with aviation while watching fighter jets cross the sky at the London International Airshow (now known as Airshow London). He told Skies he was as young as four years old when he knew he had to be a pilot.

“[The airshow and the aircraft display] just made me want to be those guys,” Fuller recalled.

Like most kids who grew up in the 1980s, he secretly fantasized about becoming the next “Maverick.” The fantasy never dissipated, and the closer he got to adulthood, the stronger his desire became to sit at the controls.

Fuller in the cockpit of a Bombardier Challenger 605. Adam Fuller Photo

As a preteen, an older cousin, who had also become a pilot, became his mentor. He described bonding with him over an aviation headset – an encounter that Fuller admits sealed his aviation destiny.

But, his dream of becoming a TOPGUN pilot would be thwarted by color blindness.

“[Flying] the F-18s was really the goal,” he said. “But I found out at 21 years old, while I was going through university — working my way towards being able to go to the military — that I have a red-green color blindness. At that time, that was immediate disqualification from the military.

“It was pretty soul-crushing,” Fuller told Skies.

He said it took almost two years of research and “talking to the right people [to] be able to pass a Category 1 aviation medical.

“And once I was able to do that, I passed the next test with no issue,” said Fuller.

After facing the obstacles his color-blindness created and struggling past the financial restraints that flight training threw his way, Fuller became acutely aware of how essential networking within the industry would be to his success.

“Getting a dream job [in aviation] is a lot of luck — being in the right place at the right time,” he told Skies.

Those who dream of becoming a pilot have to be their own biggest advocates, to create their own opportunities. 

Fuller with one of his three children at Kingston Airport for a day of flying. Adam Fuller Photo

He’s come a long way from his first job as a dockhand for a company called West Caribou Air in Savant Lake, Ontario.

“I was mainly a dockhand, but I got some time in a Cessna 185, as well, on floats.” After his first year, he’d be laid off and wouldn’t find paid employment until almost a year later.

Fuller, who began training in 1999, said the biggest lesson he’s learned over his career is that aviation is “incredibly cyclical.

“The highs can get really high, and we saw that through 2016 into early 2020 . . . and one thing can bring it all down for who knows how long,” he said, referencing 9/11 as an example.

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on the industry, Fuller recognized the most challenging part for him has been watching friends in the airline industry struggle, and also “the young people that were coming into the aviation industry . . . [just] to have it crash,” he said.

“I was a student at Conestoga College [in Kitchener, Ontario] on September 11, 2001. So, I got to see that cycle, too.”

He added: “As high as the highs can get, and as low as the lows can get, there’s always going to be that in between, and it hasn’t changed in 100 years of commercial aviation.”

Today, Fuller is chief pilot of Private Air, a fast-growing Canadian charter and management company (created by Levaero Group). Private Air Photo

His advice to students currently considering flight training: “There will always be peaks and valleys,” you just have to learn “to ride it out.”

Today, as chief pilot of Private Air, a fast-growing Canadian charter and management company (created by Levaero Group), Fuller said he’s living the dream — piloting Private Air’s Bombardier Challenger 605, escorting VIP clients across Canada, the United States, and Caribbean destinations.

And Fuller admits that the “intangibles” for a private aviation pilot go “way beyond salary.

“I’ve been places that I would never be able to afford to go, or even think to go on a family vacation,” he said. “[In most cases], you can make more money, in the long run, with the airlines. But I don’t know that the money outweighs the experience.”

And, yes, he still attends airshows.

“Now, being a pilot myself, knowing what they have had to go through to get where they are — to be able to perform to such excellence — it’s pretty fascinating to watch.”

Watching his children react to the fighter jets as they soar through the sky, “vibrating their chests,” Fuller said he still feels a familiar pang of excitement — mixed with a bit of jealousy, he admitted.

And as far as what tops his bucket list… “It’s not even close,” he laughed. “It’s the fighter jet.”

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