High above the popular Shore routes and their crawling traffic, an increasing number of commuters with money to spare are taking the literal high road. For one afternoon in May, I was one of them. The anxiety kicked in as I buckled into a Cirrus four-seater readying for takeoff at Advanced Aircraft’s Wings Field in Blue Bell. Admittedly, it was a bit offputting making the climb to 5,500 feet in such a small plane, but at least there were no crying babies on this flight.
As we made our ascent, pilot Régis de Ramel led us through the various safety features and technological advances that essentially guarantee a safe ride. His presentation was so reassuring that I barely noticed when our photographer, Jared Castaldi, briefly took the wheel. In a few short minutes, we were halfway to the Shore.
With a fleet of Cirrus, Piper Archer and Cessna aircrafts, Advanced Aircraft isn’t your typical rent-a-pilot operation. Service is available to more than 5,000 domestic and international airports, and caters mainly to business professionals in search of greater flexibility while commuting to meetings and vacations.
These days, though, couples and even families are also looking to get away. A flight to Ocean City, N.J., takes just 15 minutes. The trip takes travelers high above the Main Line, the Schuylkill River, Center City and the surrounding areas. The cockpit is small, but it’s far from the bumpy ride one might expect. Sirius XM radio is also available.
In addition, Advanced offers flight training and rental options for those already certified. Plus, a shared ownership option is available for pilots and non-pilots alike. Purchasing hours gives travelers a chance to become partial owners of the aircraft. Advanced handles the insurance, maintenance, cleaning and more.
“Once you travel this way, it’s hard to sit in traffic during a long commute,” says Karen Hamill, marketing and communications director for Advanced Aviation, a part-time flight student and a fellow passenger on my trip. “Our clientele knows what they want, whether it’s for business or pleasure.”
As for my flight, there was a slight hiccup. The oil pressure dropped, and we had to turn around before reaching our destination—a rare occurrence, according to de Ramel. No beach fries on this day, but the short adventure did underscore how close the Shore really is—especially when getting there is this easy.
To learn more, visit flyadvanced.com.