Recently I was set to travel from the Central Coast of California to Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and on into Kalispell, Mont. for a business meeting and a business consultation.
Had I opted to fly commercially the following scenario seems likely: Looking at commercial flights from San Luis Obispo Airport I would have needed to get to the airport an hour early for security, and then fly to Los Angeles or San Francisco for a connection. From there, I would probably lay over for an hour or so, and connect into Portland. Since Hood River is 45 miles east of Portland, I would have to rent a car and drive to the business meeting, which would add another two hours to the process.
Imagine that the initial flight leaves San Luis Obispo at 6:00 a.m. My day would have started around 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport by 5:00 a.m. The short, 45 minute flight to Los Angeles or San Francisco would be followed by a layover and change of planes. Let us say I arrived in Portland at 10:30 a.m. and got to the rental car counter about 11:00. The one-hour drive to Hood River puts me at my meeting at noonish.
Contrast that scenario, which has not even gotten me to Kalispell, to what I actually did in my private aircraft. I drove twenty minutes to Santa Maria Airport and pre-flighted the Mooney. I was in the air by 7:30 a.m. and made the 3.5 hour flight right to Hood River Airport, arriving at 11:00 a.m. Instead of starting the day at 4:00 in the morning and arriving at noon, I had a wonderful flight up through California and by Mount Shasta. The route took me over Klamath Falls, Sunriver, Bend, and Redmond, Oregon and then I flew down the Columbia River Gorge to the destination airport. I was also able to take a full tube of toothpaste, water bottles, and even my hair cutting scissors!
After business was complete in Hood River, I departed the following morning for Kalispell, Mont. Again I chose to land at Kalispell City Airport [S27] versus the larger international airport. In under two hours my Mooney and I were in Montana ready for the next business consultation.
Besides saving time, are there other reasons to fly your private aircraft versus commercial travel for business? You bet there are! Not only do we avoid long waits, security screening that robs us of even a water bottle, and inflexible scheduling, but also we exercise our privilege to fly and help others to see the value of General Aviation. The view from the Mooney was spectacular and I arrived refreshed and ready for business. I also was able to fly. As pilots we get to live in the world 3-D, a view that most don’t get routinely.
General Aviation and General Aviation airports serve America and our business community. If your business takes you to smaller communities not served by commercial flights, private air travel might just be the ticket for you.