Passing the Time With a Piano-Playing Pilot

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It is just after midnight at the Palm Courtroom in Cincinnati and workers is attempting to close. Lights are dimmed as the very last of the martini glasses and beer bottles are scooped up. But Beau Brant is even now at the piano, playing for stragglers.

Finally, a waitress provides him the “wrap-it-up” sign. Possibly a superior thought, since he has a flight to catch the subsequent working day, and he can not be late.

He’s the captain.

Perhaps there are other piano-participating in airline pilots, but how lots of have slice seven albums, done for a U.S. president and experienced an initial song made use of by Oprah Winfrey?

Mr. Brant, 41, has been actively playing — and traveling — most of his daily life. He commenced on the piano at age 3 and was traveling by 12. A pilot with United Airways for 17 several years, Mr. Brant considers flying position amount 1. But with just about every layover, he appears to be for a place to play, just for the pleasurable of it.

A frequent performer now at many of his layover resorts, Mr. Brant flies domestic routes from his homebase in Denver to the likes of Madison, Wis. Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Jackson Hole, Wyo.

He nonetheless has the occasional gig back again house — his property piano is a Yamaha Grand — but will get most energized about taking part in on the highway for his crew and strangers. And he’s fallen in enjoy with the Bar at Palm Court, a soaring Art Deco venue in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza: “The piano area reminds me of the Titanic’s ‘grand staircase.’ ”

His sets are a rambling combine of jazz, blues, classical and exhibit tunes. His model features a flashy suitable hand and a good deal of bounce but no sheet tunes. And he loves talking about his two passions.

The following are excerpts from conversations with Mr. Brant, edited for clarity.

It began on a extended-haul in 2005, New York to Frankfurt. We arrived early at the lodge, the rooms weren’t prepared, and there was this wonderful piano in the foyer. I commenced enjoying for the crew and wound up taking part in delighted hour.

I grew up in Evergreen, just outside the house Denver, and performed eating places there when I was 12. Then hotels, weddings, birthdays — sometimes four or five evenings a week. I would not be exactly where I am now without the need of audio: Flight education is high priced.

Paris, Zurich, Lisbon, Sydney, Shanghai. I flew intercontinental for significantly of my profession. In 2019, I upgraded to captain on the Airbus 320 and now fly North American routes. But in the U.S., several hotels have retired their pianos, and they are harder and more durable to come across.

At times I get food stuff and drink, but that is now included by the airline. The tip jar can get any place from $20 to $200, but I use that to deal with the crew to something. It’s undoubtedly not about the dollars.

I delight in a nice red wine, but there’s the 12-hour rule [the F.A.A. prohibits pilots from consuming alcohol 12 hours before work], and I’m very respectful of that. At the Plaza, it was soda drinking water with lime.

They utilized me in a social media commercial enjoying our concept tune, “Rhapsody in Blue.” I participate in that at very a great deal each and every performance.

There is an artwork to tunes and an artwork to flying. Pilots have to run beneath extremely stringent techniques, but we can set our possess contact on factors — “finesse” the plane. With tunes, you can enjoy a composition particularly like it’s written, but I like to just take it and add my twist. I stimulate my initially officers to hand-fly — turn off all the automation. Hand-traveling can be much smoother — tiny, light movements, like with tunes items.

I executed for President Ford in 1992 in Vail, Colo. In 1999, a person of my songs was in a online video presentation for a fund-raiser sponsored by Oprah, in Chicago, for her “Angel Network.”

There’s still the masks, but we’re ultimately receiving back to standard, bringing back food and beverages. I don’t forget a flight previous year when we experienced 5 crew and 9 passengers.

I’d want to go again in time, to individuals Pan Am 747s that experienced a lounge with a piano. On the extensive-hauls, pilots get a break. I would have cherished to perform a single of all those lounges.

Beau Brant’s audio can be uncovered on

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