“With my schedule, the drive time, and traffic, I often only spent one night before having to return,” said Bunting. An airplane, he surmised, could maximize his time on the shore. “In addition, my business was expanding geographically,” he said. Bunting realized he could also use an airplane to bolster his food service businesses located on college campuses in the mid-Atlantic states.
He chose to learn to fly in the airplane he would use for travel, a 2007 Piper 6X with the Garmin G1000 avionics package. “I loved the aesthetics of the panel and ease of loading gear while also having plenty of room for work colleagues, family, and my Chesapeake Bay retriever,” said Bunting.
After earning his private certificate and instrument rating in the 6X and owning it for five years, Bunting stepped up to a 2010 Mirage. “I wanted something faster and with deice capability,” he said. “I was using the airplane to scout new locations and meet with managers weekly, which I could not have done without it.” From his home base at Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster, Maryland, Bunting was flying all over the region, including to Crisfield.
Sticking with the brand, Bunting upgraded to a 2020 Piper M600 mostly for the significant range and speed advantage over the Mirage. “Over the last few years, travel has increased for myself and my business,” said Bunting. Business travel is now reaching westward to Chicago while personal travel takes him as far as Aspen, Colorado.
Part of the reason Bunting has stuck with Piper is the service experience he receives from Skytech Inc., the full-service FBO at his home field. “I started with Piper back in 2007 and have been happy with the airplanes and the service I have received from Skytech,” he said. He occasionally uses Skytech pilots to accompany him on trips for added safety and convenience. What ultimately tipped him to the M600 was Piper’s Fly Free for Five program offered in 2020. If you bought a new M600 under the plan, you receive each of the following for five years: free scheduled maintenance, navigation databases and updates, and initial and recurrent training. The program also throws in 100 hours worth of fuel (up to 4,000 gallons in the case of the M600).
For now, Bunting is very happy with the performance and flexibility of the M600—the pinnacle of the Piper line. He doesn’t yet have any desire to step up to anything larger.