admin On luglio - 8 - 2013

by Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

If you happen to stumble upon one of Washington Square Park’s jam sessions you might catch Nik Tarascio playing his guitar, singing amongst the other musicians. But he is no ordinary artist, since he is also a ruler of the sky. No head in the clouds for Nik when he’s wearing the pilot hat, as CEO of Ventura Air Services. And be sure he’ll sweep the ladies off their feet when he plays and sings ‘Come Fly With Me’ and ‘Fly Me To The Moon.’ But let’s find out more about the rocking pilot.

When did you first fly and eventually create your flying company?

There’s a license where you fly by yourself and a license where you can fly with passengers. I got the first one on my 16th birthday and the other one the following year. My dad started the company when I was 2 and I started taking flying lessons when I was 14. I was fixing engines at 8 years old. I didn’t technically start the company, but I was actively involved in it from a very young age and then I took over five years ago.

How was your childhood growing up around airplanes?

Well something funny happened when I was in 3rd grade: the teacher had asked me what I had done the summer before and I said I’d flown a plane. I think we went to Disney World that summer with my dad: he would let me sit upfront and work the controls and actually fly the plane. And I told the teacher I had flown the plane and she thought I was lying, so she called my mom, but my mother confirmed what I had said. That’s when I started to notice that not all families had airplanes, just like cars or boats.

How did Ventura Air Services come about?

My parents started their company and it was called Air East, essentially we found this other company that started in 1955 that had a similar history, values and beliefs to ours, and we merged the companies in 2003. We then changed the shape of the company in the last ten years. It works in different areas: flight training, air craft maintenance, electronics installations, charter jets, and we also own a facility where we can store other people’s planes. We fly in the Western hemisphere and all kinds of people fly with us, from wealthy families to important companies executives, actors, actresses. Since 9/11 private flying has become more attractive.

Does your passion for couch-surfing originate from your travelling profession?

I was surely influenced by the fact I’ve always been flying and meeting new people. I first started when I was 26 or 27. With my job I had flown all over the country with my jet and had stayed in hotels doing what all normal tourists do, taking pictures in front of monuments. But I felt I needed something to really connect with people and I found out about couch-surfing through Tim Ferriss’ book and I tried it. I eventually met with people who restored my faith in humanity, just experiencing generosity in wanting to share their home, town and culture. It was the complete opposite of what I had done with private jets, seeing everything on the surface, I really connected with the local culture and got a feeling of how it was to live there. I don’t do it anymore though, since unfortunately it has become a little predatorial and some people use it to hook up and meet. I think the spirit has somehow shifted now.

How about your music path, did it also begin when you were very young?

I guess it was when my brother had taken drums in school. In 3rd grade when I had to choose what instrument to play in the orchestra I chose the drums to be a rock drummer. I started with that and then I realised I wasn’t getting enough attention because I was always in the back. So I played the piano for a couple of months and then I got to the guitar and ended up being featured in my grade school band, because they didn’t have any guitar players at that age, so I got to do all my solos and great classic rock songs. Then later in the years I went back to the piano and taught myself to play it in my 20s. At that time I had a band for a while with my brother and guy he went to high school with. But I didn’t like the business, that took away the focus from writing and performing and was all about getting the right deal, contract and negotiations. This sucked the creativity out of the process, so I shelved the music for years and then reconnected in Washington Square Park where I met all these great musicians, last February. I still play the drums. As for singing, I’ve always done it.

Do you write your own songs?

I have a bunch of original stuff. I had an album out a while ago and am now in the process of making another one, I’m trying to find people to co-write with, I like the collaborative process. So far the music I put out is on iTunes.

Do you sing when you fly?

Of course.

So what new ventures are coming up in your flying and music profession?

With Ventura we’re coming up with a program that uses technology to help people get over flight fear and this will be happening in the middle of the summer. As for the music I’m open to any great songwriters who want to reach out to me.


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