Stelios Eustathiou is an aviation enthusiast and the CEO of Epsilon Aviation. He comes from a traditional Greek shipping family and studied shipping at the City of London Polytechnic. He then continued his studies in Sulzer, Switzerland.
His love of flying began when he was eight years old. He would accompany his father as he flew a Piper PA 22-160 Tri- Pacer named Mother’s Blessing III. When Eustathiou was 15, his father was killed during a flight from London to Athens. His father attempted to make emergency landing at night. The fatal accident was due to a fault in the Twin Cessna 410 aircraft and bad judgement.
Eustathiou still has a passion for flight.
“I was inspired by the attitude and the perception you have to have when you are up in the air,” said Eustathiou.
He said he still feels a little bit of a psychological fight back when thinking of his father’s accident.
Eustathiou took some time out to sit with All About Aviation.gr to discuss what it’s like flying the Greek skies and where he would like to see the Greek aviation industry go. He is the owner of a white Piper Saratoga, a single prop piston, with red stripes.
All About Aviation.gr: When did you get your first plane?
I started taking flying lessons somewhere between 1983 and 1985. It was just occasionally due to other obligations. Oh, and I was also trying to hide that from my mother! I started flying properly when I turned 55 years old. That was when I took lessons. I earned a private pilot license and was able to fly solo. I learned you have to be ahead of things when you fly. You have to be used to the environment to be able to cope with the environment.
All About Aviation.gr: Do you fly Epsilon Aviation’s Learjet 35?
Currently, my company’s second Learjet 35 is undergoing routine maintenance in Malta. The inspection will be managed by the Maintenance Center Munich Group in Malta. In three months, the jet will be as good as new.
To answer your question, no, I wouldn’t even dream of it because I love visual flight rules (VFR) flying. You need a lot of experience for this type of aircraft. You have to be ahead of the plane. What I am flying now, the Piper, I can completely cope with it. I do not want to expose myself to bigger demands.
All About Aviation.gr: Tell us more about your experience with VFR flying.
Well VFR is different from instrument flight rules (IFR) in that you have full responsibility of the environment you are in. IFR takes higher qualifications but you find yourself in a more controlled environment. To give you an example of the VFR tasks when I was qualifying for private pilot’s license in the UK, part of the assessment was to fly across the country solo.
The countryside in the UK means that you are facing green fields, a scattering of small towns, rail tracks and a few fixed landmarks such as wind parks, the bell towers of an old cathedral etc. All of that makes up about four percent of the whole country. All the rest is grass and cows that unfortunately were moving around. I am here today because I was trained with the UK VFR conditions, and I succeeded. VFR conditions in Greece are much easier because you fly in places that have true landmarks, they are recognizable and you know where you are flying. I know the Greek islands very well as the back of my hand.
All About Aviation.gr: So you fly over the Greek islands often?
I also sail, another hobby of mine and I have sailed in the Aegean Sea countless times. I like the small islands in general such as Tigania and Lipsi. My favorite Greek island is Serifos, by far. There are many beautiful beaches on the island and I know many folks from the island. Also, the wind is very strong there. I will refer to it as the “devilish” wind because when I am sailing there, there is always something happening with some boat. That’s okay though because it keeps me busy there and there is always something to do.
All About Aviation.gr: What is the biggest challenge in the Greek aviation today?
I think the Greek aviation industry needs to get moving. Unfortunately, the industry has been watered by the mentality of Olympic Airways which was once a government voting tool. Although, I must admit I always considered Olympic Airways as the safest airline. In any case, it because it was government owned they could afford to spend a lot of money on safety. Sometimes they would extend the expenses to un-absorbable situations. It was a “who you know” mentality. The whole Greek infrastructure has been poisoned. They were putting their own people in the positions
All About Aviation.gr: Do you think the situation will change in the future?
As Emanuel, from the Fawlty Towers BBC sitcom series, said, “Eventually.”
Political stability is important. One that happens, it will help the transportation industry of Greece as well as tourism related businesses.