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Chief pilot Franck Henaff: The Relaxed Overachiever

Is there such a thing as the perfect balance between novelty-seeking and persistence? If the answer is yes, then we’ve found its striking embodiment in the persona of Franck Henaff. At 51, driven by ambition as much as by the simple pleasures of life, with the right amount of stick-to-it virtue and no-nonsense attitude, St Barth Executive’s Chief Pilot has enjoyed an impressive career to date.

In France, Brittany (this northwest cul-de-sac that reaches out into the Atlantic Ocean) is known for its rough beauty and strong culture steeped in Celtic traditions. Its people, like most independent-minded communities living off the sea, is proud and stoic. As a true Breton from Lorient, an only son raised by his imposing grandfather (an Admiral of the French Navy), Franck Henaff was bound to become an overachiever. Extensive travels by boat and by plane since his childhood —at a time when it certainly was not as commonplace as it is now— and his training as an elite athlete in BMX racing unleashed his challenger spirit. Whether on land (on a bike), in the ocean (on a surfboard) or in the air (as a pilot), he would be a rider, the one making decisions, resisting familiar patterns, finding freedom in the unpredictable.

A Pilot’s Odyssey: Transitioning from Military to Luxury Aviation

Following in the patriarch’s footsteps, Henaff started his career at one of France’s four naval air stations, BAN Lann-Bihoue —mainly dedicated to maritime patrol— as a flight engineer before qualifying as a pilot. Converting his military experience to a commercial license, Henaff started working as certified pilot in the private jet industry, crisscrossing the world for A-list passengers and world leaders. As the personal pilot of royal families and business tycoons, he constantly quenched his thirst for change and novelty. With his children now young adults, his elder son being now a pilot for a major cargo company, Franck Henaff has become a core member of St Barth Executive. On his way back from Union Island, in the Grenadines, he says there’s nothing like this diversity of islands, this richness of history, food and culture.

“And with the Caribbean as my playground, I can’t get enough of cockpit views”

he adds with a smile. Though he will soon notch up 12,000 flight hours, clearly, he hasn’t had his fill yet.