December 11th, 2008

planet

corporate jet reality

I'm sure you all heard the news about how noble the big 3 automakers were last week when they drove to DC instead of taking their private jets. Because it's so horrible to fly, you're an overpaid CEO fatcat, etc etc.

But when the jobs of thousands of people in the auto industry are depending on you, is it really a great decision to dedicate 16 hours of your life to transportation, just to make a statement about how "of the people" you are?

Along with another group of thousands of people who work in the aircraft industry, I'm sick of the little airplanes getting a bum rap, and there's a good editorial in the Wichita Eagle from this morning I wanted to link to: http://www.kansas.com/business/perspectives/story/627285.html It's by a fellow local general aviation guy and it was forwarded around the office a lot today.

The private jet has become a symbol of extravagance lately and it's too bad, not just because I like my job, but because most people don't just buy a jet to show off their wealth. It's a business tool that's desperately needed. As the editorial from today points out, you can't get from one small town to another on commercial airlines, they don't go there. And you can't go to a meeting someplace without wasting an entire day if you fly commercial, because it's so insane now. When I'm taking a week-long vacation on my own time and losing a day on either side doesn't matter, I fly commercial. But if you're flying a consultant out and need him NOW, because jobs or even lives depend on it, you can't wait. And you probably can't afford to pay him upwards of $150 an hour to sit in an airport on layovers, either.

If you're like me, you don't get to ride around in private jets for every business trip you take, and that's fine. But it's no reason to point a finger at people who do go that way, and call them insensitive or extravagant. They're doing what's practical and a lot of times they're doing it to save you money and make your life better. General aviation isn't about making life luxurious for people, like fancy hotels and restaurants, it's about TIME, a very practical thing that's outright priceless sometimes.

You should have seen the line at the EAA airshow in 07 when I was there of people protesting user fees. The airlines want all their customers to know how evil private owner/operators are, and they're using you to urge Washington DC to charge the little pilots more money for using airports. So everyone at EAA was having their picture taken with a "NO USER FEES" sign. Not just aviation workers, but private pilots, flight instructors, old guys who crop dust, salesmen who need to get to little airports. Our industry is like a family, that's what I love about it. But like lots of families, we've been feeling misunderstood lately, and it's too bad, because we're good people.

If you work at GM, Ford, or Chrysler... let your boss know it's okay to fly someplace every once in a while! I don't always fly, sometimes I drive your cars, because I'm doing what's practical. You should do what's practical, too.