You may not know the company Just Born, but you probably know the brands: Peeps. Mike and Ike. Hot Tamales. Peanut Chews. Staples of candy aisles and Easter baskets, Just Born candies have been around for decades. Peeps—marshmallow candies molded in the shapes of chicks and bunnies in a springtime rainbow of colors—have inspired a devoted following who yearly create elaborate dioramas featuring their favorite confection.
David Shaffer, co-chief executive officer of Just Born Inc., doesn’t take Peeps lovers’ affections lightly. “To be the steward of one of America’s most-loved brands is truly an honor,” he says.
In the same humble spirit, the co-CEO of the family-owned company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, flies a 1977 Piper Archer that he purchased shortly after he earned his private pilot certificate in 1998.
Shaffer prefers a low-wing airplane: “I don’t like not seeing the runway on base to final. It just was not a picture that made me comfortable.” He has made some upgrades—new paint and interior, and a Garmin GNS430W —but that’s all he needs or wants. “Everything in the airplane works,” he says, even the original Ryan WX-7 Stormscope.
Shaffer flies mainly for fun and to relieve stress (“which is kind of weird because I never feel like I have stress”), but he also uses the airplane for business and philanthropic trips. “I don’t fly to California with it,” he says, but the airplane is more than capable of handling trips from his home base at Allentown Queen City Municipal to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or Albany, New York. He occasionally heads to Stowe, Vermont, where his niece owns a ski lodge—a two-hour, 45-minute flight versus a seven-hour car ride. When his son was attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Shaffer could easily fly to visit him for an impromptu dinner.
“I just love to fly,” Shaffer says. “It’s a privilege to be able to do this. It’s a wonderful avocation.”
An integral part of flying for Shaffer is the community—pilots and people at the airports. “Folks in aviation are just special people, they’re caring and outgoing and fun-loving. I’ve found that where I’ve gone that’s standard, and most pilots would say the same thing.”