The trips you can’t forget

Business Jet Traveler » February 2013
The trips you can’t forget
Perhaps you were impressed with the unexpected beauty of your city or town seen from the air as you banked away after an early-morning departure.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 2:45pm

If you’ve been flying privately for a while, you can probably name a few missions that stand out as being particularly memorable. Maybe it was a whirlwind business trip when you packed a lot of important–and profitable–visits into very little time. Or perhaps it was an impromptu ski trip you dialed up just because your favorite resort was reporting fresh powder. Or maybe it was a bittersweet visit squeezed into your schedule so you could spend invaluable time with a sick family member or friend. Whatever the circumstances of your most memorable flights, I’d love to hear about them and to share your stories with other readers of Business Jet Traveler. (Your tales can appear with or without your name, depending on your preference.)

The irascible radio personality Don Imus once told me during a telephone interview that the best thing about private air travel is that “you don’t have to go through the [bleep]ing airport!” (There was no “seven-second delay” on my phone line.) For New York-based Imus, private flying also means spending more time at his 4,000-acre Imus Ranch for kids with cancer in New Mexico. And sometimes it means a way to transport kids from their homes to the working cattle ranch when they cannot fly on the airlines due to their medical conditions. Imus’s heart is clearly as big as–or even bigger than–his ego, and I’d bet he has had some memorable flights, shared with some of those kids.

Perhaps you’ve used a flight to help someone, as well. Or maybe there have simply been times when the unintended pleasures of a journey have stuck in your memory–the cool rush of acceleration on takeoff or the warm thrill of your children leaping into your arms as you crossed the ramp after returning from a long trip. Perhaps you were impressed with the ­unexpected beauty of your city or town seen from the air as you banked away after an early-morning departure. You saw your home turf as never before, with misty areas of thick fog hanging in the valleys, and ridge lines reflecting the golden glow of the rising sun.

I’m a private pilot, and one of my own favorite memories is of a stunning night takeoff. I was headed home from a business trip to Cape Cod, and the cool mid-summer night was moist with salty air. The brief taxi from the ramp carried me past the complicated meld of red, blue and green ground lights. As I picked up speed on the runway, the ramp and taxiway lights melted away in my side vision and I focused on the white runway lights passing faster and faster as I got closer to the departure end.

As I lifted off, the whole area below opened up for me–the harbor with bobbing boats and their dimly lit cabins; the shorefront shops bustling with blinking neon; the parking lots and side streets with cars turning, stopping and going. And then, the main highway hove into view–a river of headlights and taillights flowing in opposite directions, white on one side and red on the other. As I banked gently westbound on course, the moon hanging just above the horizon edged back over my shoulder and the last watercolor streaks of orange revealed where the sun had set moments before. My passenger described it best: “Wow.”

Take a minute to reflect on the flights that stick in your mind. Then please consider sending me an email at my address below, so I can share your experience with other readers of BJT.

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“You want to make sure with a race in which you'll be flying home with other drivers that you don't crash into them. It's happened before, and it can make for a little bit of a tense situation.”