I am writing this on September 11th, and I cannot help but reflect on what took place that day in 2001 when the world stood still. We were in the air that day flying into Atlanta for a day trip when the flight phone rang, and our mechanic informed us that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center and our day-long trip extended as we went to ATC Zero, grounding every aircraft in the sky. Our industry took many years to fully recover but we found out how resilient it is.
This year we have been dealt a similar blow and once again business aviation is having to adjust how we operate. Companies stopped flying, pilots are being let go, vendors struggle to find sales, trade shows are cancelled, training centers empty, and yet I sense business aviation poised for another comeback.
But my life reflects one of the green shoots that signals just how important networking is. Just over two weeks ago I was sitting on a demonstration jet with my principals seeing if the plane would better fit their needs. Now, I find myself sitting in ground school learning how to operate a new plane. Within that short time, we agreed to purchase a new business jet and sold our current one to a buyer also in central Florida. While a whirlwind of activity has consumed my world, I find it a positive reflection on the strength of business aviation in the Central Florida area, and business aviation in general.
I would have never considered offering the new plane to my boss had it not been the relationship built over several years by the regional sales representative for the manufacturer. Similarly, selling our current jet to a local businessman started with a text to a pilot friend whom I have known for years and who was flying the buyer, his boss, at 41,000 feet. Relations with the local maintenance center allowed the pre-buy process to go smoothly.
As we continue growing the Central Florida Business Aviation Association, I encourage you to become more involved, give back, join committees, join our zoom calls, participate in our Safety Day and build relationships. As one wise aircraft sales rep once said – sales are never made solely on the worth of the aircraft. It is always made on the relationships and trust built over time. Certainly, that is what happened in my case. Who knows when you might sell an airplane to someone you have shared with a zoom happy hour cocktail!