September 11, 2008

Executives Fly Their Own Planes to Make Most of Every Minute

Every other month, Aiken cardiologist Ansermo Arthur avoids airport traffic and baggage check lines on his way to conferences and meetings.

He flies himself.

The cardiologist at Carolina Heart and Vascular Center always wanted to learn to fly and make better use of his time. So he got his pilot's license last year.

"If you can afford it, it's easier than the airports. It's a very efficient way to travel," he said.

Dan Troutman, the owner of Alternative Construction and Environmental Solutions and general manager of the Augusta Lynx, has been enjoying that travel lifestyle for 15 years. He needs to fly somewhere for business every week.

"I just enjoy flying. After a while, it became the convenience of being able to move around a little more quickly and with more freedom," Mr. Trout-man said.

Many executives across the U.S. are flying their own planes.

"Sixty percent of all general aviation flying is business related," said Chris Dancy, the media relations director at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

This includes companies with their own aircraft, charter operations and executives who learn to fly and rent or purchase a plane. These executives usually fly to expand their sales territory or attend meetings, Mr. Dancy said.

Becky Shealy, the vice president of business development at Augusta Aviation, a flight school at Daniel Field, said 22 tenants, or 30 percent, who base aircraft at the site use their planes for business reasons.

At Aiken Municipal Airport, seven out of 59 tenants are corporate clients, said Mike Laver, the owner of Aiken Aviation.

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn't track reasons people get a pilot's license. Mr. Dancy said the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association often hears from people who are either "fed up with the difficulties of airline travel or they're trying to make better use of their time."

"In general, if your trip is 500 miles or less, you can probably make the trip in less time using a single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft than flying on a jet airliner," Mr. Dancy said.

Dr. Arthur said he plans to make frequent flights to Barnwell, S.C., where he and his business associates are establishing a medical office. If he drove, the trip would take about an hour. In his plane, he can get there in 15 minutes.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227

or [email protected]

Originally published by LaTina Emerson Staff Writer.

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