By: Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot
Ever imagine what it would be like to hop into your own plane and take off to wherever you wanted? Seems like something that’s only possible for the select few, doesn’t it? The truth is, this reality is closer than you think. If you’ve ever considered getting your pilot’s license, or if you have your license and have been on the fence about buying your own plane, it’s time to take a look at the benefits of both of these scenarios.
Having your pilot’s license, and access to your own plane presents so many opportunities, for both business and personal use, that would otherwise be impossible. We had a chance to follow up with some of our students to see how they utilize their license and aircraft for business. There are also a variety of personal uses they take advantage of.
Licensed pilot, Joan Dwyer, works at Guardian Jet, LLC., a brokerage firm that assists and consults clients with buying and selling jets. Currently, Guardian Jet owns three aircraft, two strictly for business, and the third, a Piper Archer, which is available to all employees that want to learn how to fly. For these aircraft, Guardian Jet covers the storage, maintenance, and fees for the plane, and any employees that use the aircraft are only responsible for fuel expenses, essentially allowing them to learn to fly at a very discounted rate. Joan says, “You’d think that more people would take advantage of it, but it’s too bad not many people do.”
Joan chose to train at American Flyers because her father had done his training there, and had nothing but positive things to say. He received his license through American Flyers several years ago, and Jane was eager for the same experience. The next certification she is working towards is her commercial license. After that, she plans to get her instructor’s license as well, so that she can help to train more employees and give them the opportunity to take advantage of the on-site aircraft. She says, “As of now, I’m one of two people at the company that uses it every week, and my hope is that when I come back after I get my license I can inspire some of them to learn as well.”
Having her license and the plane is a huge asset for the company, as it is unique to have their own aircraft. Jane said she doesn’t know of any other brokerage firm that has their own aircraft and it gives them a level of credibility, as they are dealing with buying and selling aircraft, and shows clients that they are not only knowledgeable about the work they do, but also personally invested as well.
While she primarily uses the Piper Archer for training on the weekends, her favorite use of the plane is for “Saturday Morning Breakfast Club.” She explained, “My Dad and Uncle who are also pilots, we take the three planes and go to a new airport cafe in the tri-state area every Saturday. My niece and nephew love it, so we take them and they love it so much. It’s just a fun excuse to get the planes out together.”
Marc Curreri of Marine Professionals International was introduced to flying at a young age. His father has been a corporate pilot for 50 years, so he often had the chance to go up on the plane as a child. While he himself didn’t get his pilot’s license until his mid 20’s, to Marc, flying was his equivalent of going to the gym. He looked at learning to fly as a hobby and something he loved to do in his free time.
It wasn’t until he started his own marine electronics business that he realized he could combine both worlds. He always had a passion for both the marine industry and aviation, and his business was the perfect blending of both. After opening his business, he purchased a 1962 Comanche 250 and started using the aircraft for business; flying crew members to different locations to handle service jobs for clients. He says, “We’re able to do jobs in other parts of the state that other people can’t do. Owning our own airplane makes it possible to perform jobs in various parts of the state that make us a lot more efficient than another dealer since a lot of our competitors can’t do that.”
Having his pilot’s license and his own plane has greatly served Marc and his business, especially during the pandemic. He admits that he and his crew were able to fly all over during the last year to work on client projects, and not one person has been on a commercial flight. Marc feels that having your pilot’s license and your own aircraft is a huge benefit. He says, “It can definitely enhance and grow your business in ways you don’t expect.” He feels that anyone willing to stay current with training, that can fly regularly, can greatly benefit. Marc logs around 250 flight hours a year, compared to the average 80 hours of private pilots, so he is putting his license to good use.
Over the years, Marc has flown to the Bahamas, Hilton Head, Massachusetts, Maine, Montreal, and Turks & Caicos, just to name a few. His most memorable trip to date was a flight that he took with his father to St. Bart’s where they landed right over the mountains. Marc says he’s never been west of the Mississippi, so his next goal is to take a flight there, and eventually, all around the country.
Greg Spatz of US Construction originally got into flying looking for a career in aviation. While in school, he majored in business and construction. He quickly realized that if he wanted to have a family and be home with them, an airline pilot wasn’t the way to go, so he turned his focus to construction, and has become a national general contractor.
If you aren’t aware, it is quite common for large, national construction companies to have their own planes. In doing so, you are able to meet with clients and handle site visits in a fraction of the time you would when traveling on a commercial plane. Over the last several years, Greg’s company was able to build a hotel and a Home Depot, both in Jacksonville, and having the plane to make the back and forth trips made the process so much more convenient.
Greg feels that having his pilot’s license is a huge competitive advantage, not only when dealing with clients, but even early on in his career. He explains, “Back when I worked for the biggest home builder in the country, they looked at my resume and said, ‘Man – you’re a commercial pilot?’ It just gives you that much of an advantage over the next person.” When clients discover that he has his license and his own plane, it sets him apart from others that don’t. Aviation has put him ahead of everyone else in every industry.
Of course, Greg says the personal use of the aircraft is an added benefit. You can have lunch in Key West, which he and his wife have done in the past, or spend the afternoon enjoying the birds-eye view. He says, “If my wife says, let’s go over the Bahamas for a couple of days. We don’t have to go through TSA, we drive our car right up the airplane, throw your bags in, and go!” Greg feels such a personal enjoyment in owning his own plane. He explains, “There is no other feeling in the world, to be above everything looking down seeing the beauty, flying through the clouds. It’s just an amazing experience to be able to go out there and do that whenever you want.” He even treated himself to a cross-country trip for his 50th birthday. He flew around the perimeter of the US and stopped to visit the Grand Canyon, the Military Boneyard, and even Mt. Rushmore.
It’s clear that there is no shortage of benefits that come along with having a pilot’s license and a personal aircraft. There are so many ways to use your plane, for both business and personal flights. From giving you a competitive advantage in your job search and running your business more efficiently, to Saturday Breakfast Club and cross-country birthday trips, the opportunities are endless. Hopefully, in the stories these pilots shared, you were able to realize just how possible becoming a pilot with your own aircraft really is. Just think, in a few short months, you could be sharing stories just like these – or even better, creating your own.