Columbia "Pilot Club" Launches At Six SoCal Airports
Erik Lindbergh, grandson of famed aviation pioneer Charles
Lindbergh, is no stranger to the Columbia line of airplanes --
after all, it was a Columbia 300 Lindbergh used to retrace his
grandfather's historic flights in 2002. However, as nice as those
planes are... their pricetags keep them out of reach for many
pilots (at the very least, many ANN staffers -- Ed.)
Lindbergh (above) tells ANN he thought the same... which is
why he founded a new program to transform the personal
aircraft access paradigm. It's called iFly -- a new company that
offers member pilots managed access to a fleet of high performance
Columbia 350s for about half the cost of traditional sole ownership
and without any of the responsibilities that can complicate a
pilot's relationship with his airplane.
"Now more than ever, personal aircraft travel has the ability to
transform your lifestyle. You can go where you want to go when you
want to go," Lindbergh said. "With the Columbia 350, this is
particularly true. It's fast, it's comfortable, it's easy to fly
and it's one of the safest personal aircraft available today. With
iFly, it's also much more affordable and we take care of all of the
Lindbergh says iFly offers its members all of the flying and
none of the headaches at a predictable cost. iFly maintains its
fleet of Columbia 350s located at FBOs at six Southern California
airports. The company is responsible for aircraft management,
insurance, maintenance, ground facilities, scheduling, and
training. Member pilots simply schedule the aircraft online, show
up and fly.
iFly also offers an industry-low 4:1 member-to-aircraft ratio,
and no preset limit on hours or overnight trips -- giving members
unprecedented access to aircraft.
"The dream of personal aviation is the freedom to fly on demand,
but pilots know that the reality rarely lives up to the dream,"
said iFly President Andrew DeMond. "The average personal aircraft
is over 30 years old, relatively slow and lacks modern avionics and
safety features. And then there are all of the expenses and
problems that most aircraft owners try not to think about.
"With iFly, we strip
away the hassles and unplanned expenses and provide our members
with access to the aircraft that they really want to fly for about
the same as it would cost them to own and operate a 30-year-old
aircraft and we all know that there really is no comparing those
Initially, iFly will operate from six Southern California
airports -- Van Nuys (VNY), Santa Monica (SMO), Torrance (TOA),
Long Beach (LGB), Orange County (SNA), and Carlsbad (CRQ). Although
the company is launching exclusively in Southern California, iFly
has plans to expand nationally.
"We're very pleased that iFly selected the Columbia 350 for its
fleet," said Columbia Vice President of Marketing and Business
Development Randy S. Bolinger. "We strongly believe that iFly has
developed a new business model that will expand access to truly
capable aircraft to a much larger segment of the pilot community
and deliver a customer service experience that is remarkably
attractive. iFly has the potential to transform how pilots fly and
we're proud to be a part of it."