I was nestled into my seat on the plane, cocktail in hand, happily watching “Creed” when the pilot interrupted with an inflight announcement: “Folks, this is your captain speaking. We’re experiencing some engine trouble.”
What?! Did I just hear that right? Those are precisely the words you never want to hear, especially when cruising at an altitude of 38,000 feet. Three of my Yahoo Finance colleagues were on the same flight bound for Omaha, Nebraska, to cover this year’s Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. Unfortunately, my coworkers were sitting nowhere near me. I wondered if they were also freaking out.
Then there was a loud grinding noise, the Boeing 737 shook, and a female passenger let out a blood-curdling scream. The man to my left started praying.
In a calm and steady voice, the pilot announced that our flight was going to make an emergency landing in Cleveland. Then, he warned that we would be landing at a higher speed than normal because of the engine trouble. I cinched my seat belt, clung to my armrests, closed my eyes tight and began to pray silently.
In a matter of minutes, we landed without a hitch at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and the scariest plane ride of my life was over. In a few hours, my colleagues and I were were on another plane bound for Omaha.
We later learned that Glenn Nevola, the hero pilot who safely landed our plane in Cleveland, is also a financial planner and the founder of Flight Line Financial. His eight-year-old, New Jersey–based investment advisor firm specializes in financial planning for airline pilots.
“There was a real need for pilots to have post-retirement wealth management,” Nevola tells me in the video above, citing the 65-year-old mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots. His business has since expanded to also help younger pilots navigate their future wealth management.
Nevola, who has been a commercial pilot for 30 years, believes he’s uniquely suited to service this niche market. He says a bond among pilots plays a major role.
“By nature of what we do,” Nevola says, “we trust each other every time we get on an airplane together, so as one pilot to another, it’s a natural bridge to trust that person with your finances.”
But it’s not just blind trust. Nevola has the street cred to back up his finance resume. Before founding Flight Line Financial, he worked as a licensed financial advisor for a team at Morgan Stanley that managed $1.5 billion in assets.
At 54, Nevola plans to continue to make his living in two of the most highly regulated industries in the world—flying and finance.