Pilot Journal
Thursday, November 1, 2007

No Worries With iFly

Shared access and exceptional member care make flying a cinch

I was introduced to a new kind of flying at an open house in Long Beach, Calif. Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh and cofounder of iFly, spoke of the “world’s first exclusive aero club,” a membership-only venture that provides shared access to technologically advanced aircraft and high-end customer service. Having recently earned my private license, I typically rent airplanes (and envy friends who own theirs). But iFly’s program was intriguing, so I decided to check it out." />

Should a member need anything while traveling, iFly has probably already thought of it. In the baggage compartment of each plane is a Flyaway Kit, which contains useful items like oil, rags, a first-aid kit, garbage bags and hand wipes. “Rentals aren’t nearly as seamless,” says Shold. “With iFly, you pay a reasonable price and receive premium service.” A five-year membership runs $39,900 plus additional fees of $1,795 per month and $70 per hour flown. Those who aren’t ready to commit can opt for the Experience iFly Promotion, which provides 25 hours over two months for $9,900. To qualify, private pilots must have at least 150 hours of flight time.

Currently, there are aircraft based in seven Southern California locations. “iFly has plans for rapid expansion,” says Joshua Chaiton, iFly’s cofounder and VP of Operations & Member Care. “We’ll be expanding our footprint to other Southern California airports, and then to the Bay Area and beyond. Our long-term goal is to be nationwide. In the future, if you’re traveling for vacation or business and want to fly, you’ll know an airplane will be available.”

Columbia 350 Transition
Each member is transitioned into the Columbia through the Columbia Aircraft factory training program. “iFly is great at providing access to first-rate instructors,” says Shold. “They’re passionate, which makes you feel comfortable and builds your confidence.”

I was to spend four days with John Fiscus, Chief Pilot of the Flight Academy. Before we met, I completed a prearrival assignment of 150 questions, with help from the POH, King School’s Cleared for Flying the Garmin G1000, and Sporty’s Flying the Garmin G1000. But I had a lot of my own questions as well. Although my previous time in a Cirrus SR22 proved beneficial, as a relatively low-time pilot, there was plenty new that I had to consider: prop control, vapor suppression system, crosstie switch, rudder limiter, Vernier engine controls and inflatable door seals—not to mention the Garmin G1000.

“It’s important not to try to take in everything all at once,” coached Fiscus, who has more than 6,000 hours of teaching in technologically advanced aircraft, mostly Cirrus. “Take each new piece of equipment one at a time, and eventually you’ll know everything.” Fiscus’ company, the Flight Academy, which he launched with fellow instructor Luke Lysen, specializes in this kind of training.


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