Bucketlist trips

Not every trip on a private jet is a high-level business trip or a luxury getaway. Though we often think of a private jet as a luxury item, sometimes they are used as a last-minute alternative because all of the commercial options failed. Sometimes, though, a private jet can be a life-saving device, or simply a once in a lifetime opportunity to finish life on the right note.

Private jets have been used for years now as air ambulance options. The Lear 35 is an excellent aircraft for conversion to an air ambulance, allowing space for a gurney, fast speed and long-range that can get a critical patient to important surgery faster than any other option available. 

There are also several charitable foundations that work to fit empty leg flights with organ donations and cancer patients going long distance for treatment. Groups like Corporate Angel Network work with operators and brokers to identify empty legs that can fit a need, and the flight is donated and provides a tax write-off for the operator. 

Likewise, when an individual is identified for an organ donation, oftentimes they are only given a few hours to get from where they live to the location of the organ. Imagine waiting in Louisville, KY to find out if a lifesaving organ is available in Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic. When that call is received, and you only have 4 hours to get to Rochester, your only option is a private jet. This is the lifesaving power behind the private jet network in the United States, and worldwide.

Recently Paramount Business Jets has been the broker of choice in several “bucket list” trips that have provided families a final opportunity to gather to celebrate a life that is reaching its end. These trips are not particularly profitable, they are not necessarily for the wealthy or powerful, but are a group effort to bring a perfect end to a long life or the last request of a dying friend.

A few years back, I was contacted by a middle-aged man who realized that his father, in his 90s was reaching the end of his life. The client isn’t particularly wealthy, but working with friends and family, wanted to provide a chance for his father, living in Georgia to reach out to and visit his elderly brother who lived in Lancaster, PA. The trip was to be a day trip from Savannah to Lancaster, on the ground for a few hours and return. 

The thought was that our elderly passenger would not be healthy enough to make it through TSA clearance, and the stress of an airliner, nor the overnight stay needed to make the return flight. We consulted on what aircraft was best for him and were lucky enough to find a Beech 400 transient in the area. 

The price was better than expected, and the aircraft with its wide and flatbed cabin (there is no lowered center aisle to present a stumbling obstacle for an elderly person) made the aircraft a perfect fit. The operator even had an extra portable step on the aircraft to help the passenger on board.

In Lancaster, we found a local rental car company that offered handicap accessible vans. We spent several hours calling around (free of cost to our client) to find the right option for transporting them, and the rental van was the right fit. The crew of the aircraft was alerted ahead of time to the details of the flight and were prepared with extra FBO staff to assist the passenger onto the aircraft, and to unload again in Lancaster. 

The elderly brothers were able to spend several hours together. This was likely the last time they would see each other, and a loving son made sure that the opportunity of a lifetime was there. The passengers returned to Savannah, thankful for helping them make this happen, but in the end, it was our hearts that were touched.

Another expert member of our staff, Amanda McCreary, had a similar opportunity over this summer to assist a family in need. The patriarch of the family was diagnosed with cancer, and it was determined to be terminal. The family owned a cabin in Michigan that had been in the family since our client was a young boy. 

This was the location that the family gathered every few years to have their reunions and catch up on old times. But with an impending close to his life, the family realized that this would be their last opportunity. They gathered their funds together to make the trip one last time. Because of his failing health, again a private jet seemed to be the right option. 

After searching around the client’s family reached out to Amanda and were given the best price they had seen during their research. Amanda realized the importance of the trip to the client, what aircraft would be the best fit, and that she needed to give them the best price possible.

On the appointed day, the family put their beloved father on a light jet headed from Lunken Field in Cincinnati to Franklin, Michigan. As with our other trip, the crew was aware of the passenger’s physical ailments and went to great lengths to ensure that the passenger was as comfortable as possible during the flight and the pre and post-flight processes. After the trip, the passenger passed within the next two weeks, and the family was grateful for the final opportunity to relive family memories and make a few last ones.

These trips are not an everyday occurrence, but we do like to share these stories amongst us. They are uplifting in their sadness, that at the end of a life we were able to be a part of bringing a happy closure. 

I had spoken with friends of a cancer patient that knew they were reaching their end and wanted to ensure they made it to their cabin on the Snake River in Idaho to pass their final weeks, instead of a few miles from a hospital in Dallas. I also worked with a part 91 (privately owned and operated aircraft) G-IV owner that used their aircraft to fly a close family friend to Florida to spend his last weeks with family. 

Though it brings tears to my eyes to think about these situations, it is also heartwarming to realize that as their life ended, they were surrounded by friends and family that they may otherwise not have been able to reach. Or that they were able to get to the place they loved in life the most, with the least amount of discomfort. 

The private jet can be a lifesaving tool, and a wonderful instrument to bring comfort and peace in times of trouble. 

Whether delivering cancer patients to treatment or pulling refugees out of a “hot zone or natural disaster”, getting a client to a last-minute meeting or taking them to their last family gathering, the skies are open with possibilities by private jet.