Business aviation heroes
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The word Ambassador means a bearer of goodwill. There are some great advocates for business aviation quietly championing its cause.
John Travolta, Jenson Button and Jackie Chan have heaped publicity on jets for Embraer and Bombardier, and kudos to them for that. However, at the lighter end of the aircraft scale, there’s an army of brand ambassadors doing countless great deeds and introducing general aviation (GA) into people’s lives in a positive way.
Take Phillip Bozek, for example. Daher Socata’s youngest TBM 900 owner pilot learned to fly at 25. A high achiever off the Richter scale, Bozek is still in his twenties and runs his family’s lighting business, Conserva Electric Supply, as well as some real estate investment. He graduated from Georgetown University at the age of 18, and is fluent in Arabic and Russian. He also worked at the White House from 2005 to 2008. Oh, and he’s also incredibly modest and great company.
His enthusiasm for flying is both infectious and a great advert for private aviation. To date, he has logged a couple of thousand hours. He explained, “I call the TBM my time machine. A great example was a trip when I had to go from Detroit to Philadelphia. Within 90 minutes I was in Philadelphia, had a business meeting, had lunch and was back in time to have dinner with my family. It allows me incredible flexibility that is just not possible when dealing with the airlines.”
It’s more than just a timesaving for him though. “I have multiple businesses, and one side is highly technical. You have to be physically on site to see what’s going on. You can’t do it on Skype. You can’t do it on a conference call, so it’s getting an employee from the metropolitan Detroit area to anywhere in the Mid West. Sometimes it’s a time sensitive thing and I can be anywhere in two hours.” Not only does this benefit a firm that employs more than 150 people, but it also helps tens of thousands of his clients to deliver their products and services.
He continues, “Scheduled airlines can add multiple days to a trip that takes one day. They are inconvenient and significantly more expensive. And have you ever lost your bag while travelling…it makes a small airplane so much more attractive.”
Jolie Lucas is another great advert for private flying. The dynamic CEO of a successful counseling practice. She points out how valuable her aircraft is to her for work. “I have a practice called Cascade Counseling, it’s a midsize practice, and I have offices in Oregon, Washington and California.” She founded the Mooney Ambassadors program in 2009, a scheme for Mooney owners (and fans) to gather and share their love for their aircraft. Members can join and meet up at airshows, and simply enjoy being together and developing their flying skills. More commonly, however, they bring their aircraft into the community. Ambassadors identify an aviation event in their region that they would like to fly to. Once there they put their Mooney on display and talk to the public about their airplanes, and the value of GA.
Not only do the pilots speak up for GA, but they also do some practical good for their local communities. This weekend they’re organizing an annual “Toys for Tots” event in cooperation with the US Marine Corps at Oceano Airport, CA. They’re inviting people to bring a new, unwrapped toy and “enjoy the fun,” which comprises a barbeque, antique aircraft and skydiving. Lucas also helps with animal welfare. She said, “I did my first “Pilots and Paws” rescue flight not too long ago. We had a beautiful little dog and we got him to his forever home. Instead of having 18 hours of driving he had a couple of hours flight.”
Piper Aircraft has an owners’ group, too, and CEO Simon Caldecott is tireless in his efforts to support it. The firm is also actively involved in several community outreach programs in its Vero Beach, Fla community, including The American Cancer Society, Toys For Tots, Habitat For Humanity, local environmental cleanup efforts, and multiple education scholarship opportunities. He says, “Our company continues to look for ways to give back to the community, providing positive, immediate local impact, as well as efforts far-reaching.”
So although they don’t appear in movie theaters or Formula 1 racetracks, these guys form part of the vast army of unsung heroes who make up a sizeable swathe of GA, and who are spreading the love. Bozek concludes, “I am the founder of an airshow in Michigan, and love it because I get to take kids and the general public flying. If I can help even just one kid and have them say ‘That’s cool I want to do that,’ and I can help create a pilot or an engineer, that’s what excites me and drives me, and is part of what I want to do.”