Upfront: December 2017
Earlier this fall, Tom Price resigned as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services after racking up half a million dollars in government-paid air charter fees. Not long after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt’s corporate jet was often followed by a second jet whose sole purpose was to take over in case Immelt’s broke down.
As Mark Phelps notes in “Public Officials, Private Jets”, such news items are not exactly good for our industry’s image. However, they’re also not representative of the vast majority of business aviation users. The positive contributions that our industry makes to society may not produce as many headlines, but they far outweigh any negatives.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, for example, the general aviation community jumped into action to coordinate rescue and critical aid efforts for leveled communities in the Caribbean and especially Puerto Rico. Jet Aviation got its FBO’s generators up and running at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport within 16 hours of the storm’s passing—and by mid-October had handled 1,000 humanitarian flights, ferrying supplies in and people in need out. Herds of business aircraft began to arrive to other FBOs in the region, such as Million Air and Signature Flight Support in San Juan. Fuel provider World Fuel Services kept pace, delivering jet-A.
Two more shining examples among hundreds: Dallas Mavericks owner (and 2010 BJT cover subject) Mark Cuban dispatched his Boeing 757 to Puerto Rico six times, delivering nearly one million pounds of food, water, and vital equipment; and Houston-based Waste Management sent its Falcon 900EX to the island with 3,000 pounds of medical supplies. Countless other corporations and individual aircraft owners pitched in, usually waiving fees and picking up all expenses.
In fact, business aviation engages in charitable pursuits year-round, not just when natural disasters strike. Case in point: Corporate Angel Network, which coordinates free flights to treatment for cancer patients. I recently joined CAN’s board after years of seeing the impact of its work, including the extensive help that it gave to someone close to me as she faced a rare, terminal cancer and needed to seek out new drug trials. Besides providing critical lift to treatment, CAN—through a vast network of top medical connections—helps provide hope and stability to patients who feel as if their worlds are crumbling.
In any business sector, it’s inevitable that excesses will occur and that those excesses will grab the headlines. But let’s not forget how headlines can distort—and how much good our industry actually does.
P.S. Our October/November 2016 edition has been named Best Full Issue of a Consumer Travel Magazine in this year’s prestigious Folio: editorial competition, beating such well-known finalists as AFAR and Time Inc.’s Travel + Leisure. We also received honorable mention for Best Single Article in a Consumer Travel Magazine, for Chris Allsop’s “Bear Baiting” (August/September 2016). This is the second time that BJT has won Best Full Issue of a Consumer Travel Magazine in the Folio: competition; we’ve also received honorable mention for this award three times and been named Best Transportation/Travel Magazine (a now-discontinued category) in three other years. We were honored as Best International Publication in this year’s Aerospace Media Awards, moreover; and—competing with all business magazines, not just aviation or travel titles—we have in three years been cited for General Excellence by the American Society of Business Publication Editors.