Had a business trip scheduled to the Northeast. The first meeting on Tuesday was scheduled for 1100 near the GA airport. There were additional meetings throughout the day and a breakfast meeting on Wednesday. The return was planned for midday to make a Wednesday afternoon commitment back at the office—the perfect use of GA aircraft! Our schedule was for an 0700 Tuesday departure to arrive at 1000 for an 1100 meeting.
The aircraft we were supposed to fly developed a nasty prop seal leak three days before. I like oil and grease as much as anyone but much prefer them on the inside of the engine. No alternative GA aircraft was available, so grudgingly it was over to the airline alternative. You know where this is headed.
The schedules into Boston pretty much required a night-before departure to be sure to get in for the Tuesday morning commute from downtown to our outlying airport meeting location. This meant extra hotel nights and meals, but all those loyalty programs must be worth something. The irony is that by the time you’ve flown enough miles or accumulated enough room nights, the last thing you want to do is get on another airliner and spend another night in a hotel!!!! (Although the affinity programs often let you go to undesirable places at times you’d never want to go.)
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1930 for a reasonable arrival time. At 1300 the airline very nicely called to say that our departure was now rescheduled for 2220 and a midnight-something arrival with a one-hour drive to the hotel. Plan C: try a different satellite airport—Manchester, N.H. Well, the earlier flight has only one seat—sorry, how about the 2100 flight? Wellll, that one was also delayed. Again, you know where this is going, so we arrived at 0000 anyway.
I’ll spare you more gory details and the usual TSA indignities, but even we, as pilots, sometimes take the tremendous benefits of GA for granted. It’s good to share those with non-pilots, and perhaps a few may be interested enough to try it themselves. We all know that GA doesn’t always work especially with smaller weather-limited aircraft, but some of my really serious delays have been on airlines where it took the system a day or two to unsnarl because of the interdependent nature of hub and spoke. I’ve never been delayed more than a day when flying GA (after getting instrument rated and proficient).
One last thought—every one of the presidential candidates during the primaries relied on GA. In the general election, both the president and Mitt depended on aircraft to cover vast distances in short periods of time to see who they needed to see. Government executives and generals use taxpayer-funded GA to conduct the nation’s business. Why aren’t some of the non-government economic drivers of the economy given a bit more understanding?
We need to do a better job in conveying this story to the public at large—I’m getting a picture here. I hope you are as well.
A gentle reminder that your AOPA Foundation needs support. Currently less than 10% of the AOPA membership is making a tax-deductible contribution to help save GA. We need to do better than that! Putting my money where this mouthpiece is, I have been a Hat-in-the Ring society member for 20 years. Not everyone can contribute at that level and some can do far more, but everyone should be in the game. Are you in the fight?
Be sure to tune in next week for our special holiday blog post…with a prize!