Lock down gives me time to launch this thread
I am not referring to the people you are specifically visiting, but more the businesses, shopkeepers, tour guides etc…
Quite often, flying allows me to land in places overlooked by the crowds, like Traben Trabach EDRM, Ouessant LFEC or Bagnoles de l’Orne LFAO. And sometimes people are curious about how we came.
I don’t know if the is because I’m a shy person, but I am reluctant to tell people how I came. I don’t lie if they ask me, but I try to elude the subject.
Then I read that (from a us pilot’s blog) :
If you’re planning on flying in to 3D2, make sure you check out their website:
They have an awesome little idea for promoting public acceptance of our flying habit, in that they give you a strip of stickers that say “we flew in to 3D2” and when you purchase things in the area, you stick them on your receipts. That way the local businesses KNOW that the airport is doing their personal economy some good. It is a really cool way to keep the public happy about aviation!
Sounds great !
So, what do you think ? Should we stay low-key on how we travelled or openly talk about it ?
Yes. I guess most places I go to and interact with people, they know about my flying so most of the time I won’t even have to tell.
When you land somewhere, do you think mentioning you come by plane could help protect the local airfield ?
The lady who sold us her wine in Traben was shocked, then amazed, that we had come from Paris to visit her village and buy her wine, and then be back home in the evening.
More people could realize the economic benefit of an airfield if we mentioned it.
I used to spend a lot of time visiting independent retailers to discuss computer systems. They were were knife edge businesses then, let alone now.
So I learned not to mention the plane. One time, I landed in Cornwall and got a taxi into town. The driver, an attractive young lady, arranged to pick me up at a certain time. (I had a certain amount of equipment with me). At the appointed moment a staff member came in and announced that “a young lady” was here for me. The retailer beamed at me and said “aha. Now I know why you were so keen to come on a Friday”.
I couldn’t contradict his conclusion (if only!), although there’s no way I’d have driven, or even used the train to Cornwall.
In contrast I’m completely up front with my customers in Scandinavia which helps a lot with sometimes unreliable schedules. They don’t mind one bit, and indeed seem to appreciate the attention that they get.
That was then, of course. Who knows what the future holds. (And why am I writing this at 4:30 am?)
In Europe, I think there are two distinct “channels”.
One is where people are genuinely interested that you are a private pilot. I find this amazingly often. Even those totally uninterested in learning to fly are really interested in talking about how one uses GA to get about. Most are amazed to discover one can actually go places properly. The old joke “how do you find a pilot at a party of 100 people?… you don’t have to – he will find you” certainly comes true so often
The other is when doing a customer visit, and then it is normally necessary to conceal that you have a plane, or even that you fly a plane. Large firms in particular invariably have aggressive management attitudes which run all the way through the corporate climber ladder inside them. At our fly-ins we have had occassions when somebody really didn’t want to be photographed for precisely this reason, and probably stopped going to later fly-ins, in case it happened again. Too many people put photos of others on social media, even adding names to the faces. In business, you can fly GA overtly if you are the customer, if you are dealing with high net worth individuals, or have something somebody badly wants.
When travelling for pleasure/tourism, I tell locals I came by plane every time it comes up naturally. These people are those whose vote will keep the airport open, or close it.
Customers and other business relations… It depends on our relation. Often, I’ll not bring it up myself, but especially if they are observant, it shows, and then I don’t evade it; trying to evade it only makes it sound bad. E.g. they want to pick me up at the airport, and I arrive at the “wrong” airport, or at a time that no flight I could have taken comes. Or to a city with no connections with my home, etc. When it crops up in that way, I mention I’m the pilot, show a picture of the very small plane (compared to the bizjet they think of), etc.
I told it once, to a potential customer (it was in a provincial town and he was surprised I didn’t leave in time for the evening train back to the capital). Never heard from them again. Never a told a customer since.
Me too… we discussed this e.g. around here. Europe has a particularly difficult culture of envy.
But, private flying generally is something which most people find really interesting. I had my 60th birthday party at Shoreham Airport and lots of people wanted to see the plane.
My wife and I have 90% of our parties at the hangar, which is good because about half our friends are already close by. The other half like the atmosphere and space.
I have it on good authority that if you’re particularly bored and have never heard of anybody flying to this place, if you do so you can park the plane next to the road and walk to a terrible donut/Mexican restaurant, grease available all day. If you chat with the customers there and tell them you flew in, they react to you like they would any of the other ‘challenged’ individuals they’ll meet that day… thinking you must be an idiot to fly there and not somewhere else
The building with pool adjacent to the airport is a hotel, mainly catering to visitors to the the local jail. It might however be a good place for a fly-out, barbecue and pool party. The hotel seemed to like the idea once they were made aware that there’s a runway within a few steps of their reception desk!
I like the idea of having a sticker as reminder!
Usually I bring the topic with local taxis, restaurants, shops and hotels, this just happens naturally and you tend to be the 10th person they have meet
I avoid discussing the topic with those who are not aware of an airport is nearby or who don’t directly benefit from it, those discussions usually end up with famous GA accidents, airport noise/pollution, drug dealers, billionaires…
Client/Customer is special, there is a rule book for templates replies, “private airplane” is not one of them unless you are signing $100m deal and then they will not even ask