June 3, 2010
AOPA ePublishing staff
Two aviation bloggers from separate continents are banding together to fly a Cessna 150 across the United States starting this month to promote general aviation.
American flight instructor Jason Schappert and Swiss pilot and software engineer Vincent Lambercy formed the Flying Across America project last year to raise money with a goal of embarking on a roundtrip flight from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Catalina Island, Calif. They are scheduled to take off June 21 in Schappert’s IFR-equipped Cessna 150—just three days after meeting in person for the first time—and will travel as far as their funds can take them.
Schappert, a flight instructor in central Florida, operates Schapp Aviation and has his own aviation blog. Lambercy, an instrument-rated private pilot currently living in Frankfurt, Germany, also has a blog. The two began a conversation online about the cost of flying in the United States compared to other nations.
“He was just blown away at how inexpensive it is to operate my little 150,” Schappert said. In Europe, high fuel prices and user fees make general aviation very expensive. Costs are lower in the United States in part because people understand the importance of GA to the economy and for providing services, and that excessive fees would hurt the industry. Inspired by AOPA's GA Serves America campaign, the two pilots decided to cross the United States spreading the word about the value of GA.
People sometimes have negative perceptions of GA as “toys for the rich,” but it includes much more: people providing services, aircraft used as business tools, and flight training that benefits the economy.
Schappert said part of that message is correcting misconceptions about who uses GA. “We want to show that general aviation isn’t these corporate bigwigs flying around. General aviation is me and a student flying around in a little used 150,” he said.
According to their website, the two pilots intend to “promote important positive values that aviation helps to facilitate”: friendship and solidarity uniting pilots, development of self-confidence and self-control, support and services rendered to the community, and fun and enjoyment through the development of unique skills.
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