Jill Tallman

Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?

March 28, 2013 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

David Snell, the entrepreneurial soul who runs Starlight Flights in Dallas, Texas–and that’s just one of his three businesses—says he knew AOPA Pilot readers would be interested in what he does. And he was right.

Since my article on Snell (“2,000 Feet Over Dallas”) was published in the March 2012 issue, I’ve received numerous emails from members wondering how they, too, could get started in the flightseeing business without owning an airplane. Snell, you’ll recall, rents a Cessna 172 (so no operating expenses), and meets clients in the lobby of the FBO from which he purchases fuel (so no brick-and-mortar expenses). He has commercial and flight instructor certificates but has logged thousands of hours without having to, you know, actually flight instruct.

I’ve forwarded all your emails to David since the article ran, but he has graciously consented to provide his email address on this blog for anybody else who wants more details. He warns that April is the busy time for his crawfish business, but I’m pretty sure that his enthusiasm for what he does and his genuine desire to share his knowledge with fellow pilots means he’ll get back to you. And if you’re in the Dallas area, you just might want to hit up one of his crawfish boils, because I’ve seen photos–and they look delicious. Email Snell at [email protected].


Tags: , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?”

  1. mark Says:

    How do you operate without a sightseeing license (I believePart 136)? Also, how do you rent a local plane and use it for commercial purposes? The rentals in my area specifically forbid that. Finally, how can you charge people for flights when you weren’t commercially rated at the beginning or did you build time after getting the commercial rating?

  2. Chris Pfaff Says:

    To Mark — It’s Part 91 §147 which references Part 136, and an applicant to do such commercial (for-hire) flights must have received and obey an “LoA” (Letter of Authorization) from the FAA in compliance with that and other regulations (8-hours of commercial flight ops max per 24-hrs, pass a pee test, jump through other hoops, etc.). Then, of course, there’s the IRS, but that’s another matter!

  3. Jill Says:

    Mark, best to send David an email with your specific questions (address noted in the blog)—-Jill

  4. Tom Says:

    Jill, I appreciate Mark asking questions on this forum so we all can see the answers.

  5. Meredith Says:

    I would also like to see the answers to the above questions- It would be easier to answer here than for David to get a lot of duplicate emails.

  6. Larry Coleman Says:

    Actually, the answers to almost all of those questions are in the original article, which Jill linked to in the first sentence of the second paragraph.

  7. Chuck Says:

    No operating expenses? How do you figure *that* ?

    The FBO just hands him a plane for no fee, and gives him free gas?

Leave a Reply