Personal Aviation in a Pandemic Environment


(Some personal aircraft, like RDD’s LX7, are now able to travel more than 1,000 miles in less than five hours without stopping to refuel | Photo by Nate Ellis Photography)

Change. It is the inevitable process that many times goes unnoticed in the background of life. There are moments of reflection where change is apparent. But we have not recognized its relentless influence on our daily lives along the way. A sudden and unpredicted change upsets that paradigm and forces us to quickly deal with a new reality, and everything, it seems, is interrupted. 

The associated responses to the COVID-19 virus from individuals, families, communities and governments around the world have all contributed to a graphically accelerated change of lifestyle. All of us have experienced these effects and none of us can deny that our ability to work through change is critical to succeed at even the most basic functions of life. 

The ability to control exposure to the virus while traveling is certainly a concern in the current and post-COVID world. As commercial airline travel is becoming increasingly oppressive and unenjoyable, the role of personal aircraft has become more important than ever. 

Flying via personal aircraft offers the flexibility to travel for the purposes of both business and pleasure, while providing a safe, protected environment in the air, as well as on the ground; limiting contact with potential sources of illness of any type.

Public transportation by air requires gathering with others in lines for security, boarding, taking a seat, etc. Even with masks, social distancing and other precautions in place, you are ultimately required to share a small space with many other strangers for the duration of the flight. For some this may be an acceptable method of travel, but each individual must weigh the risk of exposure for their own personal situation. The alternative for many is to simply avoid air travel altogether, which can damage business and personal relationships, as well as eliminate opportunities for rest and relaxation. 

Personal aircraft, on the other hand, provide a method of travel similar to driving when it comes to flexibility and limiting exposure to others. Thanks to increased fuel capacity and efficiency, intermediate stops may not even be necessary when traveling by personal aircraft, limiting the exposure to strangers along the way. 

In most cases, the travelers accompanying the pilot are well-known and generally of the same cohort. This makes the risk of exposure to COVID (or any other health risk disease) minimal and within the precautions already being used in the “normal” course of the day. 

Personal aircraft enable a trip to happen on the schedule of the airplane’s owner/pilot. In the case of a trip for business, work can be continued right up to the time of departure and can also take place during the flight, making optimum use of the day. 

Time is also managed well as the flight can land very near the ultimate destination while avoiding crowded terminal environments. All of this equates to convenience and time savings for the travelers making the personal aircraft a very effective resource. 

For example, with today’s personal aircraft, it is entirely possible to travel from Bend or Redmond, Oregon to Prescott, Arizona in about two hours and 30 minutes without waiting in line for a single minute. These amazing machines can also make the trip from Central Oregon to ski destinations in Colorado in less than three hours, again landing at the airport most convenient to the slopes and skipping crowds and long ground transportation rides on I-70.

Personal aircraft travel offers even more in the way of convenience. The traditional commercial transit system is not generally amenable to the passenger as the schedules for the departures and arrivals, not to mention the intermediate stops, are all determined by the airline operator to optimize schedules for their own purposes. 

The personal aircraft switches the focus from the airline company’s schedule to that of the operator and passengers of the airplane. Departures and arrival times can be optimized around your personal schedule. Multiple cities can be visited in a single day with a return home for the evening — something that would not be possible without the freedom of choosing when and where to travel for each destination. 

Safety in personal aircraft is always a primary concern and an increasingly important part of the decision-making process regarding travel. Modern aircraft designs focus attention on the handling of the airplane in all phases of flight, from slower speeds near the ground to higher speeds when enroute. 

Advanced design enables not just high-speed cruise flight, but the ability to use smaller spaces (shorter runways) for take-off and landing, opening up a larger number of airports at which to safely operate. While this is convenient and helpful for scheduling, a slower-flying airplane near the ground is also a big safety advantage. Some designs also incorporate a whole aircraft parachute system that will lower the aircraft to the ground safely in a dire emergency situation. Other modern safety designs include standard features such as airbags, airframe ice protection systems and autopilots with automated pilot assistance. 

Finally, owning and operating a personal aircraft adds significant credibility to the business traveler. Understanding the requirements to safely travel from place to place sends a distinctive underlying message of capability and competence. 

Pilots are recognized as those who are not willing to settle for the way travel has always been done. They typically make extra effort to overcome hurdles with the onset of sudden change in an attempt to progress toward a “new normal.” Whether growing a business or visiting family at distances where driving a car is not practical, owning and operating a personal aircraft provides an undeniable advantage in adjusting to an ever-changing world. 

A variety of aviation-related businesses in Central Oregon provide ample opportunities to own and operate a personal aircraft that can steer you through the current pandemic. Or whatever exciting changes come our way in the 2020s.


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