Promoting General Aviation Two Men and Their Mission

by Kimberly on July 27, 2009

This is article is about two people I know on Twitter. They are planning to fly across the U.S. to promote general aviation.  I design their logo for the website and T-shirt they are selling to help gain funds to do the trip…  This article was done about them and their trip.

Its nice to be involved in a cause like this that helps out general aviation….

By Nick on July 26, 2009

General Aviation – An Uncertain Future

General Aviation is a segment of aviation that all aviation enthusiasts have at one time come in contact with.  General Aviation is the non-commercial segment of aviation but that term is inaccurate.  In reality General Aviation contributes over 150 billion dollars to our economy both locally and nationally.  It also provides 1.2 million jobs something that is very important in the current economic climate.

Actually the term non-commercial is a misnomer, what General Aviation really is anything other than scheduled commercial passenger service or military aviation.  Its your charter flight, business jet, medivac and air ambulance, flight training, recreational pilot,  experimental aircraft, and the list goes on and on.

General Aviation faces a lot of threats going forward.  Oil prices have skyrocketed making aviation on all levels extremely costly.  However, Congress is ignoring the current economic downturn and cost of oil and are attempting to pass costly user fee program and raise taxes for aviation.  The TSA is proposing regulating aircraft 12,500lbs and up under the Large Aircraft Security Program or LASP.  This would apply the same passenger airline rules to a private jet operator.  The PGA who flies their golfers on NetJets would have to find other modes of travel because golf clubs would be restricted as they would be considered a weapon.

Finally General Aviation airports are facing pressures from urban sprawl and community encroachment.  This is something that has always plagued airports but as population grows and cities expand they choke out airports.  They are forced to relocate or close and usually its the second option.

Campaigns to Save General Aviation

With that in mind there has been both a nation campaign to protect General Aviation along with grass roots efforts like the blog Flying Across America.  This is a site promoting a cross the country flight to help spread the message of General Aviation.  It was started by Jason Schappert and Vincent Lambercy and their goal is to pilot a Cessna 150 starting in Daytona Beach, Florida and cross the country.  They are flying using their own money until they run dry and then will use funds donated through the purchase of flight miles on their website as well as with help from locals at the airports where they will stop.

Jason is a 1500 hour Certified Flight Instructor and was awarded AOPA’s Top Flight Instructor Award at NIFA 2008.  Vincent is a Swiss private pilot, now living near Frankfurt (Germany).  I first found them through twitter and have been following them since.

I was intrigued by what drove Vincent and Jason to embark on this crusade and I wanted to know more about them and and their background.  I contacted Vincent and here is what he had to say:

Airport&AirlinesBlog: How long have you been a pilot?

Vincent: I started flying in 2001, and have now approximately 350 hours total time. I’m the happy holder of a JAR PPL(A) with SEP and MEP ratings, and of an Instrument rating. In FAA terms, this translates into a ASEL / AMEL / IR*, as far as I know.  Jason is a CFI and CFII with 1500+ hours of total experience.

*Note: ASEL means Single Engine Rating, AMEL means Mutli-engine rating, IR means Instrument Flight Rating

AAB: What airport did you train at mostly?

Vincent: My basic training took place in Geneva, Switzerland (LSGG). Flying on the other side of the pond gives me a different view of aviation, which I’m happy to share. Jason works as a freelance instructor from Ocala, FL (OCF).

AAB: What drew you into Aviation?

Vincent: I’m basically a software engineer. By the end of 2000, I joined a company doing software for ATC. I discovered that many colleagues were pilots and this is how I got the aviation virus. I later discovered instrument flying and the engineer in me likes that.  For this flight, we’ll fly VFR.  Jason is CFII and the aircraft is IFR certified, but we see it as an option to get out of fog in the Bay area, but nothing more.

AAB: Is flying just a hobby of yours or are you involved commercially?

Vincent: For me, yes. I have a good job here in Frankfurt, still in software for ATC. I love my job and don’t want to mix hobby and work. Being a CFI / CFII, Jason makes a living out of his flying, but not for this flight. We’ll both be “on leave” and obviously Jason will not get paid for “teaching” me.

AAB: What Motivated you to begin this trek across the country?

Vincent: It started during a discussion via Twitter. Jason and I were discussing how the Cessna 150 makes possible to get a pilot certificate below $5.000. I asked how much it would cost to fly across the continent… A few messages later, the project was born. Both of us are bloggers and supporters of General Aviation, so the idea to make this a public event came naturally to us.

AAB: People have left comments saying you are just looking to fly across the US for free.  What would you like to say about that accusation?

Vincent: We were expecting this criticism from the beginning and have no problem with that.  That’s why we decided to leave the comment and answer it.  It would have been easy to delete it, but it’s not how we are.  In a perfect world, we should fund the flight ourselves and raise funds only for charity.  Unfortunately we can’t afford this.  We need financial support to make the flight possible, and local support to reduce the accommodation costs.  We’ve been very clear about it from the beginning, part of the donations will serve to cover the costs.

Does that means that we want to “fly for free” ?  Not really.   At first, we will fund the project ourselves as much as we can.  For example, I decided not to fly before this operation to save my flying budget.  This also means that I lost my Instrument privileges.  This saved the money corresponding to the checkride, but was not an easy decision to make. All revenues from my blog ( ) are also transferred directly to our budget, and I’m really looking forward to my yearly salary bonus…

Our ultimate goal is not the flight itself, but to promote General Aviation.  Before reading how below, please believe us that organizing all of it requires a lot of work. Most of our activities are not visible yet, but there’s a lot going on behind the scene to promote the project.  You’ll see more over the next weeks as the project continues to gain momentum.

I already have received more than 500 messages. Not to mention the efforts on Twitter, facebook, and the like. We invest a lot of our time to make this project possible.  Naturally, we invest all this time for free, and some of our core supporters do the same.

AAB: You state your purpose is promoting General Aviation.  Besides this website how else do you plan to do that on your trek?

Vincent: We’re not addressing politicians or lobbyist.  We could do that without flying.  We’re not collecting signatures or doing politics.  We want to talk to local people where we stop and pass our message, based on the four positive values carried by GA: friendship and solidarity – self-development – service to the community – fun.

This flight is the opportunity to meet other pilots and create some emulation amongst them, but not only.  We also want to reach people outside the aviation community, and this is the reason why we need the flight.  We need local supporters and local media to spread the word about us.  Media need events, and two guys flying across America in a light aircraft is one.  Don’t take me wrong, but would you talk about us if our goal was to promote general aviation online, without the flight to make it an event ?

We also use the attention we get to promote those helping us.  General Aviation is also made of many small businesses like (which designed our logo) or (FBO hosting our first stop).  They create jobs, stimulate the local economy, and deserve attention and promotion. This is part of being a community.

Some of our stops are planned at airports where aviation museums are transmitting an important message. Some are less known, even by the locals, and if our visit can be a promotion opportunity, we’re happy to do it.

AAB: What do you think is the biggest threat to General Aviation?

Vincent: Not sure I can decide between three: possibly coming user fees, new airport security rules and the way the public sometimes sees GA as a threat.

User fees have been in use in Europe for decades and they are a significant part of the costs here. I know airports where one ILS approach costs something like $60.00. As student pilot, you think twice before taking a second one, and this can raise some training / safety issues.The time where saying “I’m a pilot” systematically created interest are gone. The reactions range from “Ah, you’re on of these rich yuppies playing with noisy, polluting and expensive toys” to “Oh, a potential terrorist”. Ok, this is may be a bit extreme, but the fact is here: the overall reputation of General Aviation is not as good as it used to.When I started flying, my passengers could join me directly on the tarmac by simply showing a passport, or other ID. Now, they have to be screened, their belongings X-rayed, they can’t take a step without me. Did I mention the barb-wires that were installed all around the airport ? This makes the whole logistics of flying more complex, and less pleasant.

AAB: What do you foresee the General Aviation Landscape in the future?

Vincent: Before all, I hope that General Aviation’s popularity will increase. We want to show that it’s not reserved for an elite or the affluent, that it makes people better, serves the community and is lot of fun. This is why we do all this and also partner with others sharing these goals, like and

General Aviation is a strong community and if it remains so, it will always survive. But we must care for its image, and open it to more and more members, be they pilot or simple aviation fans.

As you can see Vincent and Jason are very passionate about General Aviation and only have the best intentions in promoting and preserving this extremely important segment of aviation. Its something that more aviation enthusiasts should be doing even if its not at this level.

If you want more information about this endeavor please visit

To help promote their site or make a donation you can do that here.

You can also follow Flying Across America on twitter:

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