Editor's Desk: June 2009-July 2009

It's an interesting time to be taking over the editorship of a magazine, especially one called Business Jet Traveler.

Warren Buffett, appearing on CNBC recently, proclaimed that the newspaper in its traditional printed form is as good as dead. Who, he asked, would rather sit down with the print edition of The New York Times when they can read the same stories for free on the Web? It's a fair point. Although I receive The Times in my office, I'm one of those who prefers to read it online.
Meanwhile, at the same time pundits are writing obituaries for print media, some corporate chief executives and even a handful of celebrities are eschewing business aviation because a) the economy's terrible and b) it's unseemly to be seen traveling on "luxurious" private jets while others are losing their paychecks. This is a real phenomenon, borne out by figures pointing to a 30-percent or greater drop in general aviation flight activity in the last nine months. New Jersey's Teterboro Airport outside New York City-a good barometer of the industry's health-was eerily quiet this spring.

And here I find myself the newly christened editor of a print publication written for people who travel on business jets. Yet despite the pounding business aviation and print media have taken, I'm filled with an unshakable optimism. Why? For one, I'm confident that print magazines-at least the great ones-aren't going anywhere. There's just something about a well-done, four-color-process magazine that no Web site can duplicate-not even our own BJTonline.com. I'm also convinced that the underlying value of business aviation will remain firmly in evidence long after our memories of those jet trips by Detroit's Big Three CEOs have faded.

One of my first responsibilities after taking over as editor was to pen an article for a special section of Barron's produced in collaboration with Business Jet Traveler. Titled "In Defense of Your Own Plane," the story turned out to be one of the easiest assignments I've ever had. Perhaps that's because I wrote most of it while trapped for several hours aboard a US Airways flight on the ramp in Charlotte, N.C. The main tenet of the piece revolved around the idea that executives lose three hours on average for each airline leg versus the time it takes to make the same trips on a business jet. On this day, traveling from Dallas to Newark, I lost about eight hours, all thanks to a faulty warning light.

You have my word that the mission of this publication will remain the same as it has been from day one. The words on our cover sum it up: "Maximizing your investment in private air transport." It's a great tag line, and it reminds all of us here that our first job is to serve you, the reader. This magazine exists not to wave the banner for the business aviation industry or to say nice things about our advertisers and their products, but rather to provide valuable, timely information about business aviation and to help you make the best use of this wonderful form of transportation.

We, of course, have an obligation to defend business aviation and marshal the facts in support of the industry when it comes under attack from overzealous politicians or media outlets bent on engaging in class warfare for the sake of higher ratings. When that happens, we will continue to serve as one of business aviation's fiercest advocates.

With all this in mind, my goal for the magazine is to make you feel uncomfortable if you ever miss an issue. The information and commentary in these pages should be considered required reading for anybody who's serious about using business aircraft. We'll never sugarcoat our coverage because we know you want it straight. You should be able to think of Business Jet Traveler as a trusted friend-or better yet, a humble servant.

To help us serve you, I need to ask a favor. If there is ever any subject you feel deserves attention or if you want to discuss a topic that's weighing on your mind, please contact me. My e-mail address is spope@bjtonline.com. In the next six months I want hear from as many BJT readers as possible to find out what issues are most affecting you.

I was pleased to learn that despite his dire predictions about newspapers, Warren Buffett plans to hold onto his substantial stake in the company that owns the Washington Post-and that he still reads the print edition of The Times every day. The media's short attention span is good news for image-sensitive users of business aviation, and the recent uptick on Wall Street is a hopeful sign as well. Even Teterboro Airport is bursting into blossom of late as traffic returns. From my view, all that's left is for the exceptionally talented editorial staff here at BJT to continue delivering the same fantastic publication that you've come to know and trust.

That's exactly what we plan to do.

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