My friend Bill contacted me last night and told me he would be in my town today. Immediately I wondered if he was making a cross country road trip from Tulsa to visit his son’s family in Baltimore, or if he was working. Bill is a pilot hired by a number of companies in Oklahoma to provide flight service. He said he was in Lexington, 2 hours by car, and would it take him 20 minutes to fly here. The return trip to Tulsa, 14 hours by car, will take 2 hours and 15 minutes by air in a small jet.
And that is the reason why general aviation is so popular for those who can afford to hire a plane or earn their pilot’s license themselves. The advantage of setting your own schedule and avoiding all the lines at the airport going through security more than offsets the expense for some people.
This is expensive travel, no question about it. A 5 day roundtrip flight from New York to Los Angeles in a jet that can seat 8 can easily run about $75,000. For the top level corporate executive whose hourly rate may be more than most people make in a month, this kind of flying makes sense to enhance quality of the time used, with none waited in airport waiting rooms.
Security at General Aviation has gotten tighter in the past three years. I have heard that as TSA developed increased security for commercial flight areas, the general aviation part of the same airfield was fully accessible. In the past three years access outside the terminal and to the parking aprons have been restricted to flying guests and other people as escorted by the pilot.
For example, when waiting for Bill to fly in I requested access to the apron area to take photos of his jet landing. I was not allowed to go outside until he landed, came inside and then escorted me out to the plane to see what it looked like.
We had a nice visit and I got him back to the airport by 6. He should be home in Oklahoma just about now….8:30.