Recognizing business aviation’s value to rural economies

By Krystyn Hartman

After little more than a year working in business aviation, seems like every new little factoid I encounter, another universe opens up. Things I’d never thought of before. For example, commercial airliners fly into about 500 or so airports throughout the U.S. All sizable metropolitan areas. No doubt they are of extremely high value when it comes to the economies of those major metros. 
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Interior of a KaiserAir Gulfstream charter remodeled by West Star Aviation’s Western Colorado facility.
Private jets can fly into nearly 4,500 airports in the U.S. Private jet owners, decision-makers, and influencers are vital to rural America’s ability to survive and compete in an age of on-demand access — to nearly everything. And then there are all the jobs that come with those additional 4,000 airports. These are craftspeople, technicians, folks who keep us safe in the skies.
While photographing this fresh-out-of-the-hangar Gulfstream remodel for an air charter client, I had the honor of meeting some of the craftspeople who performed the interior work. There was genuine pride in their voices as they described the renovation process; I was overwhelmed by the level of their attention to detail.
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And then there’s the ride; the private jet experience. My first ride in a Gulfstream. There was simply no way I could pretend like I belonged there, cool and unimpressed, staring out the famous oversized Gulfstream windows at 41,000 feet in the air. I was beside myself; couldn’t believe I was there and completely impressed with everything. And I mean everything.Everything about the experience from FBO to FBO and everything in between was extraordinary — quiet, safe, comfortable, secure, fast, and convenient. (The client, KaiserAir, has a 70-year perfect safety record, which only added to my sense of security. Needless to say, we’d fly anywhere with these guys.)
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I wince, no, cringe, when the TV and social media news pundits hammer on about people who fly in private jets because they clearly haven’t done their homework as to how many people are employed as a result of private aviation. Rural America depends on the business these jets bring into their communities as well as the business they send out. It’s okay to be mad about an attitude, but to hammer an entire industry in a knee-jerk reaction to an “attitude” is misplacement of the hammer. (And by the way, why are so many public leaders treating so many of our economic and social problems as nails to be hammered to death with so-called solutions? Nevermind, a subject to dive into another day.)
Private and business aviation is a multi-billion dollar industry providing real hands-on jobs and global access for nearly 4,000 communities in rural America. The more I learn about the importance and vitality of the industry, the more I want to know.
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