Celebrating World Pilots Day

Aerion Supersonic is home to many certified pilots – accounting for near 20% of the company’s total employees. Their experience and knowledge can be seen in the enthusiasm they have to bring the world’s first supersonic business jet to reality – the AS2®.

One of those pilots is Roger Noble, Vice President of Sales at Aerion. He is one of the many passionate accredited pilots working at Aerion – inspired by the goal of a return in commercial supersonic flight. “I learn something new every day from our brilliant team of engineers,” says Roger.

Roger’s fascination with aviation began at a young age. He grew up on the East Side of Manhattan and attended school near the East 60th Street Heliport. After school when he was about eight years old, he would scale up and peer over the concrete wall and watch the helicopters land and depart – easily able to while away an entire afternoon in awe of them.

A few years later, his older brother Bob, 15 years his senior and, with a military and Air America background, came home on leave from Southeast Asia and chartered a helicopter in New York City. They spent the day sightseeing together and hovering near the Statue of Liberty.

As a teenager, Bob took him onboard a Piper Cherokee and would have him pilot the plane after giving him some rudimentary skills and Roger having knowledge of flying. Bob would pretend to fall asleep having Roger practice keeping the plane level, on steady heading, and at an assigned altitude. As Roger grew older his excitement with aviation remained – receiving his B.S. in Aeronautical Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1982.  Roger also Soloed a Cessna- 172 for the first time in Ormond Beach, FL during his College years.

Roger joined the United States Air Force in 1984, receiving his Silver wings in May of 1985. Training in the T-37 Tweet which was a small twin engine jet trainer with a top speed of 425 mph. Doing well, he moved on to formation flying the T-38 Talon. This aircraft was a two-seat, supersonic jet trainer that used two GE afterburning engines with a top speed of 858 mph.

Before joining the USAF Roger worked for Sikorsky Aircraft in Product Support.  On a Sikorsky assignment to NAS North Island in CA, he was driving North along Interstate 15, about an hour out of Vegas, and would watch as McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom’s crossed the highway just 100ft above his car at incredible speeds.

After Pilot Training graduation he put down his first choice of aircraft, the F-4 – and received it. Crossing that same stretch of Interstate 15, two years later, piloting the F-4, which had a top speed of 1,473 mph.

“Flying the F-4 was at first intimidating compared to the T-38 as just one of the GE J-79 afterburning engines had more total thrust than the T-38 weighed fully loaded. It was much heavier, so you really had to finesse it,” says Roger. “Compared to a modern-day F-16 you could easily ‘over G’ it and lose control since it lacked the flight control computers you have in today’s modern jets.” A pilot had to know their aircraft very well – over G’ing an aircraft meant putting more stress on the frame and parts than it was rated for, compromising the structural integrity of the airplane.

During his time in the US Air Force, Roger was Captain of F-4E aircraft in both Air to Air and Air to Ground Tactical Roles. He was a part of the 335th “Chiefs” Fighter Squadron and the 20th “Silver Lobos” Fighter Squadron – and flew some Clarke AB F-4Es into theater in support Dessert Storm I. He flew in six Red Flag exercises in the Nevada Desert and in a Maple Flag Exercise in Cold Lake, Canada, a twice Thunderbird project officer and strafe competition award winner.  He was a Wing Standards Check Pilot, 4 ship Flight Lead, Instructor, and Special Weapons Qualified on the GBU-15.

After his time in the US Air Force, a career in the aviation industry beckoned. Roger returned to Sikorsky as a Proposal Manager on Classified Programs.  While at Sikorsky this second time, he managed the Life Cycle Contractor Support for the critical SOCOM assets being flown by the 160th Night Stalkers.

Following his time back at Sikorsky Roger worked as a Program Test and Demonstration Pilot for Dassault and was based in Teterboro.  He flew and Captained Falcon 20, 50, 50EX, 900, 900EX, and Falcon 2000 aircraft while with Dassault.  His activities included Airshow displays, Demonstrations for Prospect Clients Worldwide, and Flight Test work.  While there he flew a speed record flight from Sydney to Maui on a Falcon 900EX in 9 hours and 54 minutes nonstop with colleague Rich Ludice.  Test work included some Production Test Acceptance as well as Brake Tests on the then in development Falcon 2000 as well as HUD Certification Test work for the Falcon 2000.  “We had to demonstrate Cat IIIa performance while hand flying hundreds of ILS approaches to minimums using the HUD’s Guidance Cue at all weight, C of G, wind, and weather conditions”.  Many of these were flown in the Simulator in the middle of the night so as not to disrupt regular training with Clients.

Roger would accompany Clients and Prospects to various Dassault facilities in France for tours. “We would fly over via Boeing 747 in Business Class.  At the time there was a ‘complimentary upgrade’ to Concorde for the return from Paris.  What an experience flying Mach 2 for the Atlantic Crossing.”  Roger flew on Concorde twice. “It was a narrow but comfortable Cabin with quite small windows. I recall the powerful takeoff as well as the Mach Meter digital display. The flight was so quick and barely gave time for the wonderful lunch that was served,” says Roger. The speed and distance covered gave Roger an indelible appreciation for high-speed travel.

Following Roger’s tenure at Dassault he transitioned to become a Demonstration Captain and later the Global Chief Pilot for Bombardier Demonstration Flight Operations.  While at Bombardier Roger flew the Challenger 601, 604, Global Express, XRS, and Global 5000 aircraft.  Roger again flew Worldwide in support of countless Airshows and Client Demonstrations and Showings.  Speed has always been important, and Roger set two International NAA Speed Records at Bombardier.  The first as Pilot on a Teterboro, NJ to Tokyo nonstop flight accomplished in 13 hours and 3 minutes. “We had to fly at a better endurance speed of about Mach 0.81/0.82 to accomplish this City Pair mostly due to the prevailing Headwinds”.  Roger set a second NAA Record between Chicago Palwaukee and Le Bourget Paris.  “We departed from a 5,000’ runway at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and went nonstop at Mach 0.85 to show performance of the Global 5000”.

Following about 10 years in Demonstration Roger transitioned to a Director of Sales role in the New York area for Bombardier. “This was a privilege to be responsible for the orders and revenue for Bombardier in this very important Business Aviation Region.  Roger completed business with many Fortune 500 Companies, Hedge Fund Principals, and Venture Capitalists.  “The Presentation and Competition for the aircraft business order against other top Business Aircraft Manufacturers was thrilling”.

Roger joined Aerion in 2018 as Vice President of Sales.  Since coming aboard, he was worked closely with his Sales Leadership and Colleagues to grow the Aerion AS2® sales order backlog.  One Client who has very recently placed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Aerion was a former Client of Roger’s on another large ultra-long range aircraft.  “Many of my former Clients understand the importance and value of time, if they can acquire a tool to get there first or get home quicker, they will”.  Roger has also been assisting Aerion Engineering, by providing his Operational perspectives to the team designing the aircraft. “It’s incredibly fun to be seeing this Supersonic Aircraft come together from a design and function standpoint. When the AS2® takes off for the first time in 2025 it will be a very emotional day for me, says Roger.

“In the US Air Force, we had a saying, Speed is Life.  The Supersonic F-4 it enabled us to get into areas of responsibility quickly and exit quickly to accomplish the Mission Objectives. The AS2® will open an entirely new paradigm for travelers.  Being able to connect face to face with a client, colleague, or family across an ocean and return home the same day to be with your immediate family or home company business.  The time savings and flexibilities to immediately respond to opportunities will be a huge game changer.”

The thought has crossed Roger’s mind as well as other pilots at Aerion, “Whatever you do don’t leave me alone with a fueled up AS2®,” says Roger. “I might sneak off for a joyride.”

Aerion would like to recognize all the incredible pilots on April 26, for World Pilots Day. Time is precious and being able to share the passion and excitement with the world is one reason why Roger and many other pilots call Aerion home.

04 26 2021

AERION SUPERSONIC