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Jim Williams

'Gorgeous jimmy' is a pilot

Many people take up flying as a second career, but you’ll go a long way before finding someone with Jim Williams’ background. After 23 years as a professional wrestler he took the next logical step—and became a professional pilot. He is almost certainly the only person ever to wrestle in a steel cage and qualify for the left seat of a Cessna CitationJet.

The groundwork…When I was 19, I was wrestling in Oklahoma, and a promoter needed to get me from one town to another. He had a Cherokee and decided to take me in his plane. I just fell in love with aviation at the instant we rotated. I started taking lessons from there. In 1986 I bought a Cessna 401. We did these wrestling tours where six of us traveled around the country in a circuit for a week. If the company said they were going to spend $20,000, I’d say I’d do it for $15,000. I flew the heck out of that airplane for three or four years doing that.

Planning for the future…When I was 26 and I was wrestling, I had a long-range plan to retire when I was 40 and start flying. In the meantime I got all my ratings. When I was getting ready to retire, I set up a flight instruction job. So when I stopped wrestling, the next day I had a job instructing. Then I got on with a freight company, and it was single-pilot “freight dog” flying. I did that—or lived through that—for about three years. But I was living the dream. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I was in love with aviation, as I still am today.

Living in the present…I interviewed with NetJets on September 11, 2001, and then started on the Citation Ultra. Then I upgraded, and I’m currently a training captain on the Excel. So here I am, living my second dream. And I still have the same wife, by the way.

Public persona…I’m nothing like the character I portrayed for 23 years!

Advice for students…It’s all about safety. It covers everything. Did you get the proper sleep? Did you eat the proper food? Did you check everything you could check? And if you did, go ahead and check it again. Professional wrestling took serious planning and focus. Flying takes the same thing, plus the intense desire to do it right. When a person went to a show to see Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin wrestle they were almost guaranteed to be entertained. And when you get on my aircraft, you can be assured it will be the safest flight that you can have.

Who: Jim Williams
Occupation: Captain at NetJets
Total time: More than 10,000 hours
Extra: Wrestling fans may remember him as “Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin.”