APEX in Profile: David Dicko

David Dicko

David began his career as an airline pilot, flying Airbus A320s and Boeing 777s for Air France. He then joined the airline’s management, taking roles in marketing, and corporate strategy and innovation. After 10 years, he left the airline to start SkyLights with Florent Bolzinger. Their mission is to jump-start the adoption of immersive in-flight entertainment using virtual reality headsets.

Frequent flight: CDG–SFO
Now watching: Silicon Valley, Planet Earth II (in the SkyLights Theater, of course)
Now reading: Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore
Now listening to: S-Town podcast
Seatback or PED? Both. I look for the largest screen with the latest releases.
The future of flight will be: Cool
Favorite social network: Quora

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
It chose me. Ever since I was two years old, my eyes were fixed on the sky. I grew up traveling between Africa and the US to see family. The Boeing 747s I flew on have always been synonymous with excitement.

What’s the career path you considered but never followed?
I was always very interested in philosophy, science and epistemology. I wrote a book that describes the effects of scientific paradigm shifts on the evolution of Western philosophy and culture. It’s a fascinating subject and I hope to publish it one day.

Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
As a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I’m constantly meeting people who want to build the future: whether it’s a next-gen supersonic plane or the future of cinema.

What do you think is the most overlooked aspect of the passenger experience?
1) We should have solved the waiting/queuing problem already! As passengers, it feels as if we’re being moved en masse. We’ve gotten used to it, but there’s an opportunity to do better. 2) Personalization. Everyone talks about it, even pretends they’re doing it, but no one really knows how.

Personalization. Everyone talks about it, even pretends they’re doing it, but no one really knows how.

What’s your crazy idea to improve the passenger experience?
SkyLights. It offers passengers an immersive cinematic experience they will not forget. With the latest video headset technology, passengers are transported to a private movie theater where they can enjoy 2-D, 3-D and 180-degree films and TV series on a high-resolution, wide-angle cinema screen.

What’s your first travel memory?
Coming out of a Boeing 747-200 at LAX and seeing my grandparents waiting for me when I was two years old. After I passed customs with my luggage, I remember the strange ramp I climbed. I could see hands waving frantically, then heads, then people, then my grandparents. The arrivals area at Tom Bradley International Terminal has hardly changed!

What’s the best seat on the plane?
0A – the captain’s seat.

Favorite snack and go-to drink order on board?
I’ll name two! For medium-haul flights, United’s nailed it with its Dutch caramel waffles. They’re so good and clever: crumb-free and super-compact. For long-haul flights, the crispy chocolate crepes from Brittany served as snacks on Air France flights.

If you could fly anywhere right now, where would it be?
Let me change the question: If I could fly anything right now, it would be the Boeing 747-200, the plane that brought me to aviation. And I’d fly the famous Hong Kong Kai Tak approach, which was closed in the early 2000s.

“APEX in Profile: David Dicko” was originally published in the 7.3 August/September issue of APEX Experience magazine.