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Soaring to New Heights

z/VM Senior Software Engineer Brian Wade finds similarities between his job and his life as a pilot.

Brian Wade in his 1965 Piper Comanche

Image by Natalie Chitwood

Brian Wade, a senior software engineer for z/VM Development, was first inspired to become a pilot by his father—who encouraged Wade’s love of aircraft at an early age. “My dad was also a pilot. When I was a kid, we played with anything that could fly—including paper airplanes, balsa airplanes, kites and model rockets,” Wade says. “My dad even bought me an ornithopter once.”

A Quick Study

Wade’s curiosity about aircraft and flying was evergreen. Even his father’s navigation charts captivated him, and Wade found himself wondering what they were. He also recalls visiting the Smithsonian and looking closely at the aviation exhibits. By 1996, Wade began taking flying lessons at Tri-Cities Airport in New York. He earned his private pilot certificate the following year.

His pilot training is quite extensive. Since obtaining his private pilot certificate, Wade has earned an instrument rating. He’s learned to fly tailwheel airplanes, complex airplanes, high-performance airplanes and seaplanes, and he’s attended recurring training seminars at several airports in the Northeast United States.

Freedom and Teamwork

Over the years, Wade noticed certain similarities between his job at IBM and his job as a pilot. “As a mainframe performance analyst, my job is to look at a number of discrete pieces of information and combine them to form a complete mental picture of what the system is doing. As an instrument-rated pilot, my job is similar.” he says.

Wade’s career in z/VM Development and his experiences as a pilot each offer their own rewards as well. “I’m really grateful for the people with whom I’ve worked with at IBM,” Wade says. “My colleagues here have taught me enormously, not just about technology, but also about corporate life, and about working as a team.”

One of the most rewarding parts about Wade’s life as a pilot is the freedom that comes with it. He uses his 1965 Piper Comanche 260 for recreation, vacation and other personal travel. “My life is richer because I can travel so easily,” he says. “On the weekend, I take day trips that would be difficult if I had to drive. A few times a year, I visit my family in North Carolina and Ohio. Several times, I’ve flown to Ocean City for vacation.” Wade has even used his Comanche to go on a date.

Wade looks forward to continuing his journey as a z/VM senior software engineer and as a pilot for quite some time.

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