Takeaways From The Business Aircraft Convention

I was hoping that looking through all of the pictures I took at the 2017 NBAA (National Business Aircraft Association) convention, in Vegas, would remind me of what I thought were the most important takeaways.

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Lights Out As GE Shuts Its Flight Department in Favor of Charter

It’s the twilight for General Electric’s flight department. After operating its own aircraft for nearly 75 years, GE has shuttered operations of its three Bombardier Challenger 605s in favor of flying charter. Equally efficient, and, at a fraction of the cost of operating planes, more companies are turning to charter. 

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I Have a Thing for Falcons

I’ve been an airplane geek since I was in 6 th grade at Lovett Elementary School, reading books on WWII fighter planes in the library. I grew up in aviation at Houston Hobby airport in the early 80’s. At the time, there were only a few series of private jets – Jetstars, Sabres, Lears, Gulfstreams and Falcons seemed to rule. I loved the nimble-looking, French-built Falcon 10 and it’s bigger sister the 20. In 1980 things changed. The Falcon 50 came out and I was in love (26 years later, I finally flew on a 50 from Loreto Bay, Mexico to DFW – I was beside myself). This was as beautiful as the prior Falcons but had three engines – causing quite a roar in the industry. It’s power allowed it to take off from high and hot airports (a challenge that I’ll get into in another article) and had the safety factor of the third engine (jet engines tend not to quite these days, but early on it was comforting to know you had one extra, and with the 50, now, two engines to take over if one crapped out). The 50 typically sat nine, and then the stretch model of the 900 came out six years later, having 12 spots for tushies and several hundred more miles of range. In 1995 the Falcon 2000 was birthed, a humble 10 seater with less than 3,000 mile range. This was the first private jet I flew on – a nice long weekend trip to NY, and it took my breath away. A beautiful airplane, even though it lacked the awe of the tri-jet. In 2007 the large cabin 7x shattered distance records of prior Falcons – 5,490 miles – think NY to the Middle East. The 50, 900 and 2000 could travel 3,220, 4,800 and 3,970 miles, respectively. Check out this great video of a 7X performing at the Reno Air Races – I wasn't shooting the video, but I was there, watching.

WATCH THE VIDEO

—Editor

Like to Fish? Learn to Fly.

Guerrero "catching" a fish on the Provo River

Guerrero "catching" a fish on the Provo River

There's been a lot of coverage in the recent years about the pilot shortage - it is real today, and, is only getting worse. It's a wicked blend of the major airlines stealing pilots from the regional airlines, low salaries that don't exactly attract people to the field (this is changing rapidly as airlines and other operators have really upped the pay lately), the Air Force producing less pilots, and generally, the large expense of training it takes to get to the point of being marketable - to name a few reasons. I could not think of better profession, especially if you are interested in travel (not to mention: the mental challenge, flexibility in hours, etc.). I love criss-crossing the country and laying over in random places. I have toured the wine country, spent time with family in SoCal, hung out with friends in Miami, had great Indian food in Queens and partied with some dysfunctional people in Hutchinson, KS (it was them, Marc, not us!). And, while I don't spend a lot of time fishing when at home, I enjoy it, and fishing seems to find me while on the road. It often starts out of the blue: I once had to find a hotel out towards Park City because a convention at our destination of Salt Lake City left no hotels in town. While driving through the beautiful country side and crossing a bridge over the Provo River, my co-captain/buddy Guerrero spotted some guys fly fishing and yelled, "I want to do that!". Any avid angler would benefit from taking up flying - it could take you to countless lakes, rivers and oceans, and, you'd get paid to be there!

— Editor

Barracudas off Key West

Barracudas off Key West

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

California Flying

Front window seat in San Diego

Front window seat in San Diego

I like to say that I'm half Californian since my grandmother and uncle lived in Santa Monica, my sister is in San Diego and I have countless cousins up and down the coast. I've been very happy flying up and down the coast, a lot, lately. It was a thrill to fly into San Diego for the first time - having a front window seat was so much cooler than sitting in the back. Ate lunch on the harbor then flew to Orange County and ended up in San Francisco for the night. The oil guy we were flying was able to knock out three meetings in three cities in one day.

— Editor

Waypoints on the STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) into SFO. Shoutout to my surfing buddies

Waypoints on the STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) into SFO. Shoutout to my surfing buddies