Saltchuk Aviation pilot Steen Bramer traded faraway lands for the thrill of home
By Hilary Reeves
The perception of pilots as globetrotting adventurers isn’t far off – at least when it comes to Saltchuk Aviation pilot Steen Bramer.
“At last count I’ve visited 54 countries, though in some I only got to see the airport ramp while waiting to depart again, or spend a quick night in a hotel, but others I have had the opportunity to go exploring in, which is something I love to do: get out of hotel and just start walking around to see what’s around.”
Bramer was born and raised just outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, and began learning English in the fourth grade. He moved with his family to Michigan when he was 11 and lived there for a year before moving to New Jersey for two years and finally settling in Redmond, where he graduated from Redmond High School.
“My dad, Robert, most certainly had the most influence on me during my childhood,” Bramer said. “He taught me to always try and do my best in whatever I did and not cut any corners. While he took me to work and sitting in the jumpseat of an airliner, or tucked away on one of the business jets he was flying, I knew that flying airplanes was what I was going to do for a living.”
Bramer’s flying career has taken shape in many forms. He started flying at the age of 15 and, after high school, he became a jet engine mechanic, test cell operator and inspector in the United States Marine Corps.
After being honorably discharged from the military, Bramer took a job as an Aircraft Structural Mechanic for BF Goodrich Aerospace, working on Boeing 727s and 737s. While this was exciting, he said, the opportunity to be a Quality Assurance Inspector at Boeing on the 747-400 final assembly and flight line operations called to him. He spent two years at Boeing before being laid off in 1999, at which point he decided to jump into the pilot seat and start teaching.
Bramer soon got a job as a flight instructor teaching private pilots through ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) certificates, which turned out to be a four-year stint in his career, as airlines were not hiring after 9/11. Eventually, he landed a job as the Chief Pilot for a charter company with one airplane, which grew to operate three jets and two turbo props before the company fell on hard times and shut down, once again forcing him to think of new possibilities as a pilot.
Bramer next took work as a contract pilot, helping a flight department with aircraft familiarity and operations, and a second with operations throughout Russia, Europe and the Middle East. While looking for full-time employment, he discovered that going overseas was an option, and for two years, he was a Corporate Captain for a Saudi Arabian Sheik based in Saudi Arabia. He later came back stateside to become a Captain for Omni Air International, flying Boeing jets for troop support and supplemental air carrier operations worldwide.
“The flying was in Saudi Arabia was great, however the two months on, one month off schedule was tough,” Bramer said. “Being away from my family for two months at a time was hard; I would say it has been the greatest challenge in my career so far. When the opportunity to go to Omni came up, and I saw that it was just 18 days a month and home-based, I jumped at the chance.”
Two years later, the opportunity to interview for a Captain position at Saltchuk came to Bramer’s attention.
“The opportunity to contribute in more ways that just flying the line, such as helping with the structuring of manuals, standard operating procedures, and aircraft setup was a great motivator,” he said. “Now that I have been with Saltchuk, I know I surely made the right choice to leave the airlines and return to corporate. The people I meet and engage with here truly show why this is such a great company to work.”
Bramer said he never asks himself “what if?”
“All aspects of my past have contributed to my education and knowledge being brought to my future, and I’m proud to have been involved in so many different aspects of aviation in my career,” he said. “It’s turned me into a pretty well-rounded and focused individual with experience to tap into for whatever task may arise.”
Bramer describes himself as loyal.
“I feel as though I give my all and am devoted to the companies I have worked for,” he explained. “I try to accomplish tasks in the most efficient and professional manner possible to get the best outcome. I have parted with prior companies on good terms for either career advancement or quality of life enhancement, and yet have been asked to return or give input to replacement pilot hiring on several occasions, which I believe to be a compliment to my commitment and dedication to those companies while I was employed with them and stretching beyond.”
Bramer married his wife, Andi, while he was stationed in Hawaii with the Marine Corps. The pair have two children, Haily and Paige, and now live in Marysville, Wash., an hour north of Seattle.
“I am very proud of my family, and thank them for being by my side and always supporting my work endeavors,” he said. “I plan to make Saltchuk my long-term place of employment, helping to make the aviation department the best it can be.
“I can honestly say I’ve never thought of being or doing anything different. Flying is just who I am.”