Greg De Jong, CFP®
I am blessed to be able to combine my work as an investment advisor and financial planner at Savant Capital Management here in the Chicago area with my passion (aviation!). When I was in college, an uncle took me flying and planted a seed which lay semi-dormant for almost 20 years before germinating. Then, one of my financial planning clients gave me a ride in his stunning A36 Bonanza. . .the fertilizer was now applied. A week later, he sent me a letter entitled “Top 10 Reasons Why Greg Needs To Take Flying Lessons”. . .the seed had been watered. With encouragement from my wife, I took my first lesson (Lumanair, at KARR) on May 25, 1999, just after celebrating my 40th birthday. If you’ve got to have a mid-life crisis, I figured this was the way to go.
Soloing was a challenge, but eventually I got the hang of it and earned my Private four months to the day after my first flight. An Instrument ticket followed and then the Commercial a couple of years after that. Along the way I found that flying was not only deeply satisfying but also a great tool for servicing my expanding list of clients, particularly as Chicago-area folks relocated to other parts of the country.
I’ve made a fairly typical progression: flight training in a 172, then Archer and Arrow time as part of Fox Flying Club (KDPA), followed by ownership of a Cherokee Six. A desire for “faster, higher, farther” led to a Turbo 210. I economized during the 2007-2009 financial crisis by exchanging sole ownership of the 210 for a partnership interest in a lovely S Model Bonanza, and then on to my dream ride, an E-55 Baron called Miss Lizzy. She’s more than I ever thought I’d be flying . . . I frequently pinch myself when I fire up those IO-520’s on a crisp clear morning.
I love my work, and am fortunate to have many fellow pilots as clients. In my free time, I hold leadership positions in my church, both locally and nationally, and enjoy traveling with my wife Kathy. We’ve got three delightful adult children, all of whom have spent many hours in the air. So far, none have taken up aviation, but hey, I was a late bloomer too. Just wait ’til they turn 40!
They tell me I’m the hot rod of the Barons. Greg calls me a fast and thirsty woman. The E-55 models have 570 hp on tap, and with an empty weight of 3,740 lbs., climb performance can be exhilarating. We typically fly at 7-9,000 ft and will true out at 190 knots consistently. I’ve got seating for 6, but without the cargo doors of a 58 model Baron, the back 2 spots are admittedly only for the young of heart.
I’ve got the long-range fuel tank option (3 interconnected tanks in each wing, total 166 gallons useable), so endurance is about 5:45. That can take us non-stop from Chicago to Orlando on a door-to-door schedule which is competitive with the airlines. . .and I look better on the ramp!