Today’s Flight Plan
Do you have a private pilot license? Have you ever been frustrated with the difficulty of renting an aircraft from a new FBO you’ve never been to? Have you simply wanted to be trusted to use your certificate to grab the keys, walk to the airplane, and quickly get on our way?
Most of the time, if not all the time, pilots can’t just walk in to any FBO, flight school, etc and rent an airplane. They have to get a ‘checkout’ at each location, wasting a lot of time and money to simply prove they are capable and safe with that company’s aircraft.
Is there an easier way?
OpenAirplane looks to make it as simple as walking into the FBO, grabbing the keys, and going. That’s it. All billing, planning, scheduling and so on can be done before and after the flight through a web/app interface. All you do is walk up and fly the airplane.
You start by doing a Universal Pilot Checkout. That is, you do the checkout once at an OpenAirplane affiliated location and the checkout for that make and model will be valid for that make and model at any other location in the network.
Now while on vacation you can expand your horizons and see new places, using your PPL to get you there. The process is easy, slick, and safe.
Rod Rakic, cofounder of OpenAirplane, talks with us today about this amazing concept, how it came about, more about what it is, and where it is going.
Huge thanks to Rod for joining us on AviatorCast. Great job, Rod. We hope all you listeners will choose to try open OpenAirplane as well!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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Open throttle with open airplane. This is AviatorCast episode 74!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. Of all the modes of transportation, I find the flying machine to be the most fascinating. Perspective, sites and skill abound in the earthless altitude of flight. It is evident that I love flying and all things flying. So welcome to this, the 74th episode of AviatorCast by Angle of Attack. It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you here to the fraternity if you will of AviatorCast listeners and all the great things that we try to do here. Just a few of those are we try to bring guests, different aviators from the community, different people involved with aviation or flight simulation, and give you some insight to what they do and their passion for aviation.
We also work to reignite that flame. Maybe you’re disenchanted with flying as a career. Maybe you have gotten out of flying for a long time and you’d love to back into it, we try to keep you up to date with the latest information, and not only that, we want to give you some jolts of energy to get you back in the cockpit. And of course for those of you that haven’t flown yet, this is a source of inspiration to get you in that cockpit and chase that dream of learning to fly. There are so many people out there that have always wanted to fly and I’m sure that some of you listening to this right now, listening to my voice, out there in this vast world have wanted to become a pilot but you haven’t for one reason or another. We try to answer some of those concerns on this show and maybe you cannot become a pilot, there are alternatives like flight simulation. So we talk a lot about those things and other things.
On today’s episode, we have a great guest to talk about some actual aviation stuff for you private pilots out there, for those of you that live in the United States or would be visiting the United States with your private pilot license, or those of you that in the future are looking to get that license, a lot of cool stuff coming up on this episode. We have Rod Rakic from Open Airplane. So if you’ve heard of Open Airplane before, you’ll know exactly what this is. If you don’t know what open airplane is, you can check them out at OpenAirplane.com and that’s just a little teaser for now. You guys will have to wait and hear about what Open Airplane is. Sounds cool though doesn’t it? Doesn’t everyone want an open airplane? Doesn’t everyone want to just in an airplane and go? Well that is what these guys are all about and we’ll learn more about that here in a few minutes when we get into that conversation with Rod.
First off, one of the coolest things about AviatorCast is that we have listeners from all over the world and at the beginning of every show, I read a review from one of you listeners out there and on this episode, that is now different. Now, I’ll tell you about why this is important and what I do to give back to you guys that leave a review for AviatorCast here in a second but first, let’s read this review. This comes all the way from Middle Earth aka New Zealand. This comes from Jean-Luc, not to be confused as Jean-Luc Picard, I’m sure it’s just Jean-Luc. His username is NovemberZulu. He gives five stars from New Zealand. He says “Wow, I am so glad that I found this podcast. It is awesome. I have such a big love for aviation and Chris, you do such a great job with the podcast. The great questions and the great people you interview and their interesting stories and all the knowledge that people can learn from a single cast is amazing. Keep up the fine work. Jean-Luc, Auckland, New Zealand.”
Thanks Jean-Luc. Really appreciate it. I’m glad that you are getting inspired and you’re enjoying the interviews that we bring on this show and the other things that we do on the show. Really appreciate that. So as a token of my appreciation, you are going to get an AviatorCast t-shirt mailed out to you. It says “Fly or Die” on it. It has a cool World War II fighter aircraft that is an F4U Corsair and this is the first version of AviatorCast t-shirts that we created. I’ve talked about these t-shirts for a long time. They’re finally available. They are exclusively meant for those that review the show, and I also give them out for some other contests. In other words, these things are not available for purchase so you can’t get off easy, you got to leave a review for the show if you want one of these t-shirts.
Again, I said this is the first version of the shirts. They’re numbered. So we only made 125 of them. We only have about 100 left and so they’re exclusive, they’re numbered. We’re never going to print the t-shirts like this again. They are very cool. They don’t have AviatorCast branding all over them as cool as AviatorCast is. We don’t have AviatorCast branding all over them. Just a couple little branding elements here and there but mostly this is just a cool aviation t-shirt that you’d love to wear. So Jean-Luc, you have won that t-shirt. Go ahead and write me at email@example.com and I will make sure to get one sent off all the way to Middle Earth. Hopefully doesn’t get intercepted by some orc spies, but we’ll get one to you. So thanks Jean-Luc, really appreciate it. If you want to leave a review for AviatorCast, feel free to do so. These days, I’m monitoring both iTunes, iTunes is the big one, and Stitcher. So Stitcher is one of those platforms that a lot of Android users use, so that’s another place where you can leave a review, and I will honor those reviews on the show. So Stitcher is another place.
So before we get on to this interview with Rod from Open Airplane, I want to say a few words about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I want to give you guys some news on that. Now, as most of you know several weeks ago now, there was a big huge aviation event that happens every single year and it’s called EAA Airventure. A lot of you know it as simply Oshkosh as it takes in Oshkosh Wisconsin. It is the coolest thing ever. Now, I had such an amazing time there from day to day, from hour to hour, that I haven’t had time to really decompress my thoughts and so literally as I look down here now at my wrist, a lot of you aviation geeks out there are going to laugh, but as I look down at my wrist, I see my adult weekly pass for Oshkosh Airventure 2015. I haven’t cut it off yet because I’m waiting until I can decompress all the amazing things that have happened from that event.
Now last year when I went, I was there with a friend helping him out with a booth and so I was kind of stuck in this core area of the hangars where the vendors are, and I didn’t get out and experience Oshkosh as it is meant to experience. So this year was different. I went there with the experience of actually gaining a lot of things for you guys to listen to on AviatorCast. I did get a ton of material. I’m in the process of getting that out to you and I’ll tell you more about something in a second along these lines.
But this year, gosh it was just so amazing. I came to this point on Wednesday which was mid-week, so I haven’t even gone through all the amazing things yet but I came to this point at the end of the day on Wednesday and I said to myself “This is one of the most amazing aviation days of my entire life. I cannot believe the things I’ve seen and heard today and it was just unbelievable. I’ll tell you guys more about that later when we get all those episodes out. But this year was just so much different. Oshkosh was amazing and I have a lot of material coming for you guys, I would say about a dozen episodes’ worth. A lot of cool stuff.
So we are just about a week away now from a very, very cool National Holiday that you probably don’t know about. This is National Aviation Day. Now, I never heard about this before but it is this really cool event that why not celebrate? Why would we not want to celebrate the National Aviation Day? That just makes sense right? So a couple cool things going on and a lot of these stuff is going to come out later, or a lot of you understanding why I’m so passionate about this will come out later in the episodes I release from Oshkosh. But if you’re in the Washington, DC area, there is a very cool event going on there. There is a screening of a movie called “Flying the Feathered Edge” and that is from the Bob Hoover Project. If you guys have not heard of Bob Hoover, this guy is the aviator of aviators. Literally that’s what a lot of people call this guy. So this is a movie that Kim first produced, directed, edited. She did a great job. Harrison Ford is in it. He’s at the beginning and end. Harrison Ford aka Han Solo is a good friend of Bob Hoover’s. Bob Hoover is the aviator. Literally on his book, it says from Jimmy Doolittle ala Doolittle Raiders, said he is the best stick and rudder pilot I ever knew. And then Chuck Yeager did the foreword for his book, so that just tells you who this guy is.
Anyway, so a lot of stories to come on that. But on National Aviation Day, there’s a screening at the Capital Building from what I understand with Flying the Feathered Edge, the movie. I saw this at Oshkosh, this movie. It is incredible. It’s so cool. I’m so inspired by Bob Hoover, and he’s such a special person. I don’t want us to forget who he is and what he’s done and so that’s a really cool thing going on. Now in harmony with that, in concert with that if you will, I guess that’s more the typical term, I am going to work very hard to get all of the Oshkosh episodes or recordings that I did there ready for that National Aviation Day.
So it may kick off that we have an National Aviation kind of week starting on the 19th or it could be that we have full National Aviation Day that day where I just unload a bunch of episodes on you guys and you guys can listen to them at your convenience. But the point being is that there are a lot of great episodes coming for AviatorCast from Oshkosh and I think you guys will be very pleased with a lot of the stuff that you hear from there. I’m excited to share that stuff with you because when you’re at Oshkosh, you’re at the place where a lot of the movers and shakers in the industry are, a lot of the influencers, and so met some amazing, amazing people and I’m just so excited to share those experiences with you guys.
As part of that and a big reason I still have this weekly Airventure pass on my wrist. I really want to cut it off soon but the reason it’s still on my wrist because I don’t feel like I can move forward until I truly decompress all the thoughts, idea, inspiration I gained from Oshkosh until I get that down on paper and come up with a plan and even just share those experiences with you guys. So I’m looking forward to cutting this off. That is going to motivate me to get this stuff ready for you guys, so that’s going to coming up really soon and so I’m excited about some of the thoughts and ideas I have for AviatorCast in the future. We’re doing a good and an important work here so I’m excited about that and I’m very grateful to have you on board, and I’m excited to bring you this episode this week. I know that it’s been a little bit here as all these Oshkosh stuff has been going on since you guys have had an episode, so here we are. We are going to jump in with this episode with Rod Rakic, and keep in mind that we have a lot more coming. So here we go, let’s get into Hangar talk with Rod Rakic from Open Airplane.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, we are very honored to have a special guest with us today, Rod Rakic. How you doing Rod?
Rod: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on the show Chris.
Chris: Yeah. I’ve really been looking forward to it. You have founded a company that I’m very passionate about. I think that it’s such a great idea and living outside the contiguous 48, it’s really great for me to be able to know that I can go and use this great organization. So tell us just very briefly the elevator pitch for Open Airplane.
Rod: Sure. Open Airplane makes renting an airplane as easy as renting a car. I’m Rod Rakic, I’m the co-founder.
Chris: We want to get into a lot of that today, the start-up story of it, what you’re working on, to a deeper level what that means for pilots in the United States, and I’m not sure if you plans to go outside the United States but we’re here in the United States now so we’ll talk about that first, and as always, the first question I always ask of any guest on this show is how did you fall in love with aviation? Let’s take you back several years and talk about that.
Rod: How could you not? I’m a child of the 70s. Han Solo was the real hero of Star Wars, and I just assumed when I was growing up that I was going to be an Astronaut. I think it was when I was 12, I realized the astronauts don’t get to actually spend all that time, much time actually flying in space so I decided that maybe yeah, fighter pilot, that would be great. And so I kind of realigned, joined Civil Air Patrol as a cadet here in the US when I was 12, learned to fly when I was 16, and I keep learning more and more about flying so I’m still working on that. I went to school, Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo Michigan and with the major and getting an aviation degree was the idea that I would get a degree, I would pack up the jeep, drive to Alaska, start in Anchorage, start working my way around until someone was just squeegeeing some guy’s name off the whiteboard after they lost one and needed to hire a pilot and I was going to go be a bush pilot and eventually needed me living in a cab or be a dog. That was the plan. It didn’t work out that way but that’s how I kind of get started.
Chris: So, in your years there, what kind of stuff did you work on as far as flying? Did you get all your ratings when you were in college, or what age did you solo at? Tell us about that progression.
Rod: Sure. I first learned to fly when I was 16, two weeks after I got my driver’s license. Civil Air Patrol started teaching me to fly Cessna-172s. Did a week of flight training, pretty much got ready to solo in that week and then soon after, started working afterschool jobs to pay for flight training in dribbles and drabs as I could. Soloed, I think I was 17, 18, and then really just did training as I could all the way through my freshman year at college. The summer between freshman and sophomore year, I got a job working at a flight school in Detroit City Airport, I was the office manager. We worked during the day and then was shut down the flight school in the evening and fly at night. By the time I got my private pilot certificate, I actually had more nighttime in my logbook than daytime which was pretty unusual. I had a solo crosscountry solo night endorsement which was unusual but that was just the way my training progressed and there was nothing against the rule about it so we got that done that summer.
And flew just as a civilian private pilot for a while like anyone would after college, dropped out of flying for about 4-1/2 years. Right after college, building up a career and getting married, and all that, it wasn’t really a time for flying, it wasn’t the focus. I always thought I’d go back to it at some point. And then in 2000, I finally, my wife was out shopping or something and I looked out the window, I said “Why am I not in an airport?” So I found a CFI to fly with. I took two flights, got my BFR done, we used to call it BFRs back then, and I got back into it. Moved to Chicago in 2001, was flying here, lived in Downtown Chicago and obviously 9/11 had a big impact on aviation especially in Chicago. I lived all of six blocks from what used to be Meigs Field. And so after 9/11 I felt like you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. I was too old, I was too married to go active duty air force, so being a former CAP cadet, I reupped as an officer, an emergency services officer at a local unit and started flying for civil air patrol. I think I had around 80 hours of pilot command time when I did that.
Fast forward to now, I’ve got 1200 hours of single engine commercial certificate. I’m a civil air patrol search and rescue mission pilot. In fact, just this past Monday, I logged a little over 10 hours in two days supporting on a search mission for missing aircraft in Southern Illinois.
Chris: So still very active in that and keeping your head in the game it sounds like.
Rod: Yeah. It really just is my opportunity to serve. I tell people that flying for CAP is kind of like being in the air force if I want to be in a volunteer environment. I enjoy being able to be a part of that team and support my community, my state, my nation that way and in fact, it’s some really great flying.
Chris: Tell us a little bit more about what it’s like for a cadet to get into the civil air patrol because that’s actually something we’ve never talked about on the show. I’ve intended to get someone from the civil air patrol on the show. But tell us for a young man or woman that’s looking to get into aviation that wants to start early as a teenager what it’s like to go through that process just in brief.
Rod: Sure. It’s a great way to enter the aviation community. The cadet program was designed to build dynamic young Americans and aerospace leaders I believe is the term, and it does that. It gives kids in high school from the age of 12 to 18 an opportunity to get involved in aerospace. Gives them the opportunity to fly airplanes. The air force has a cadet orientation program that gives cadets the opportunity to fly gliders and fixed wing aircraft. Really gives them a sense of what it’s like to serve as part of a team. They do this as part of sort of a structure of a military cadet program. There is physical training, aerospace education, leadership development. It’s really the only youth program I’ve encountered that gives kids at that age, in those formative years, the opportunity to follow and the opportunity to really lead. Not just attend classes about leadership but actually be leaders and that’s how that program is structured when it was first designed back in World War II and has continued to be one of the best opportunities for real experience and development of leadership skills that I’ve ever come across and it’s really been sort of a formative part of the foundation of who I am, and so I really appreciate that opportunity.
I started doing search and rescue because cadets actually get to participate in search and rescue missions and emergency services missions, disaster relief and all those sort of things. So I was 14 years old, I was stomping around the woods, participating in a ground team. At 16, two weeks after I got my driver’s license, I started my flight training and I did that all the way through high school. And so when I got to college, I really had a really broad amount of experience hanging out in the air force community, giving a chance to attend encampments, kind of like community-based fraternity, hang out and train with the air force community. And so I didn’t choose to go down a path of an air force career, most cadets don’t, but those that do have a really great sort of path going to the air force academy or getting a commission in the air force, but even if they don’t, they have this foundation that really makes them very competitive in what is a very competitive field so it’s a great start.
Chris: Sounds like a very structured program for young aviators that are very moldable. You can mold them to be complacent and maybe a little scattered or you can mold them to be very structured and fit within a good system, so it sounds like a good system in order to do that sort of thing especially if they’re going the military route. That seems like a really good place to start.
Chris: Yeah. Not everyone is going to necessarily go fly for the military but ultimately so much of how the military has developed doctrines that are applicable other places. You know, use of chocolates or something like it’s applied even in medicine. Surgeons learn from aviation. If you go to an airline, most airlines are operated with the same sort of doctrine of standardization and evaluation and training sort of doctrines that that’s why commercial air travel is as safe as it is. And so you look how the military has influenced how aviation operates as a whole and being part of that community as early as possible really is a competitive leg up.
Chris: I don’t mean this in a bad way and I know that the civil air patrol is much more structured than this, but I always kind of view, at least when I was a youth, I viewed the civil air patrol as kind of the boy scouts of aviation where it was this very structured program. I know that it’s much more military than that but it’s a really good organization to be a part of it seems. Cool. I appreciate that information early. I think a lot of our listeners will enjoy that and it would be great to get someone on from maybe higher up in the civil air patrol at some point to talk about the organization as a whole. But let’s move on to what you are doing now. So tell us about Open Airplane and how you even got the idea to start this adventure.
Rod: Well, talking about CAP standardization and evaluation actually is a good place to start with that because we are very much inspired by the fact that Stand Eval has demonstrated to lower the accident rate by 60%. If you look at how CAP pilots fly and they’re non full time professional pilots. They are folks that have day jobs and families and they fly Cessna 172s and Cessna 182s, so the same category and class that your typical sort of private pilot will fly. Yet, their accident rate is 60% lower than everybody else’s. The accident rate in single engine piston across the US is somewhere around 6.83 accidents per 100,000 hours flown and CAP’s accident rate typically if you look at the past decade, works out at about 2.8 accidents per 100,000 hours flown. So a really significantly lower rate of getting into trouble if you are sort of in this kind of structured environment. It’s the same kind of structured environment you’d see in commercial operations if you have an SOP and you’re operating under port 135 or 121 airlines or military aviation.
In fact, the scary statistic is that it is safer statistically to fly a helicopter in combat in Afghanistan than it is to fly a single engine piston aircraft in the US and that’s because you look at the number of accidents per 100,000 hours flown and you compare that. And so that’s really one thing that inspired us. The other thing that inspired us was that why is it that if I want to rent an airplane somewhere else, the fact that I’ve done a check-out in one place doesn’t count once I do it somewhere else? And so that’s what really what drove us to this concept that we can make every pilot’s certificate more valuable if we could renting an airplane as easy are renting a car and so that’s really where we started.
Chris: So let’s rewind a little bit. So tell everyone kind of what the underlying problem is and what typically happens when you go to a flight school that isn’t affiliated with open airplane? Let’s start there and kind of identify the problems that people would face if they got a private pilot’s license and they wanted to go, say they were on vacation, they want to go to a local FBO and rent an airplane. What kind of problems would they face in doing so?
Rod: The problem is trust. The problem has been that the industry has evolved in such a way that if you show up at the door of a flight school and do your flight training, the first question that goes through the operator of that flight school’s mind is how can I trust this person with my airplane? And so the typical way to solve that idea of a local is to cost half a day of hundreds of dollars while you jump in a plane with a flight instructor after six days of job interview about your background, your flying experiences, your ratings, your endorsements, all that and that you go and you demonstrate proficiency to whatever standard they sort of came up with at that particular operator. And then some places, it’s let’s go fly around the pattern three times, show me three landings, yup, you’re a safe pilot. Great, here are the keys.
Other places, the club checkout can be two days long and that’s kind of ridiculous and people ask why aren’t playing more? Well of course, what do I need to be able to demonstrate proficiency so that I be trusted with this aircraft? And of course the minute I do it at one flight school, if I want to go to the flight school across the airfield and fly an airplane that is maybe a couple of few serial numbers away from the airplane I just flew, I have to do it all over again.
Chris: Yeah exactly.
Rod: And that just always struck us as a little bit ridiculous. So we wanted to then solve that problem because we knew that pilots could get a lot more value out of the pilot certificates if they could fly where they happen to be and their pilot certificate doesn’t just turn off when you leave your home base.
Chris: Exactly. And for a private pilot that wants to go out and do that they don’t have the opportunity of something like Open Airplane, it just creates barrier after barrier, and it does not take that much for someone to just say “I’m not even going to bother with it. I’m just not even going to bother with it. I just want to go flying.” Unless you have a really motivated person that is very motivated to fly in that area but I know personally for me, the reason why Open Airplane is so appealing and I kind of alluded to this at the beginning of the show is because I know that with the structure that you’ve built and we’ll talk more about that structure, I can go to the lower 48 and I can go to many of the airports that you are affiliated with and I know that the checkout that I’ve done will work with these guys. And I don’t have to worry about that whole long process because you know, I’m a middle class guy, I work hard for a leaving and I don’t make a ton of money and so I only have a certain amount of budget anyway to get up and go flying, and I’d rather use that budget to actually go somewhere and see something rather than just spend it with an instructor getting checked out in the airplane, so it becomes very appealing for me.
So, let’s talk about this universal check-out mentality or this universal check-out that you guys have. So tell us a little bit more about how that works and maybe what the structure of that is.
Rod: When we first started talking about what became Open Airplane, everyone who’s a pilot thought it was a great idea. We did a survey in 2011. 96% of the pilots we surveyed said that they would fly more if something like Open Airplane existed. We asked them why don’t you fly from your home base and 51% of them told us that it was because of the hassle and the expense of local check-out, and about 28% of them said it was just hard to find airplanes. So that’s what we tried to solve at OpenAirplane.com and our mobile app.
So we created the Open Airplane Universal Pilot Check-out. There are three things for the pilot. It resets the clock on the flight review, it earns the pilot up to a 10% discount on their renter’s insurance, and it gives them access to the same model aircraft across the country for 12 months.
Chris: So if I go and get a universal check-out on a 172 for example, am I checked out on every 172 model that there is?
Rod: It’s a great question Chris. We have always followed the manufacturer’s recommendations on this so in terms of a Cessna, we ask Cessna Aircraft. We’re actually a Cessna-endorsed partner and we work with their team on the standardization. A Skyhawk is a Skyhawk is a Skyhawk unless it’s got a G-1000.
Chris: That’s what makes the most sense to me. I mean, I’ve flown 172s with regular flaps and 172 with the old Johnson bar flaps and that isn’t that big of a difference but when you’re jumping from the steam gauges to the G-1000, obviously you’re in a completely different territory, and it’s more so a familiarization with the avionics than it is the actual flying characteristics of the airplane but it makes all the difference. It’s just something that you absolutely need to know.
Rod: So we bifurcate between avionics and airframe. So if you do a check-out in a 172, that gives you access to all the 172s with the same kind of avionics. But then you do a glass cockpit checkride, say the G-1000 and something like a Cirrus, well now we can give you access to not only the G-1000-equipped Cirrus, then we could give you access to a G-1000-equipped Skyhawk if you already demonstrated that you know how to fly a Skyhawk. So we separate check-outs across avionics and airframe, that we can give you the most bang for your buck, based on demonstrating proficiency in either combination.
Chris: Great. Yeah. I actually didn’t expect that so that’s really nice. You get the make model or if you check out in avionics, then you get the avionics as well, so that’s actually really nice.
Rod: We have an abbreviated check-out that lets you add more aircraft or avionics combos to your stack without having to go through those sort of whole process over and over again, and then when you get to your 12 months standardization, you simply fly another UPC in the aircraft that’s most capable in your stack and it actually resets the clock on all the aircraft that you’ve previously done this training proficiency. One checkout every 12 months to rule them all.
Chris: Yeah. Okay, so I’m a new Open Airplane user and actually I’m a new Open Airplane user but I’m speaking on behalf for the listeners as well. How do I approach getting started here? I mean, tell me what the process is. I know that your website is actually very good at laying it out but what’s the process of getting started with you guys?
Rod: Getting started with Open Airplane is easy. You go to OpenAirplane.com at any device, a smartphone, a tablet, a desktop computer, it all works the same way, and you create a profile and it’s free, and on that profile, you’ll put all that information in that you would normally have to, the flight school that you’re going to rent from and do it over and over again. You do it once and then it follows you around. So you enter that information once and then a credit card and you then choose which aircraft you’d like to do your checkout in. You find a location, you choose the airframe and you request a time and a date when you’d like to fly your universal pilot checkout. You prepare for that just like you would any flight review. When you’re done, the typical universal checkout for a VFR pilot, will take just a few hours.
You’ll do an hour on the ground, you’ll do about an hour and a half in the airplane. In that 90 minutes, you’d typically be demonstrating high airwork, low airwork, emergency procedures and three landings, and then you’re done. You enter your hobbs and tat time into the app when you’re done flying, recalculate the bill. By the time you get home, you’ll typically see a receipt waiting for you and we just charge the card that we have on the file. No more standing in the lobby fighting with your credit card machine.
Chris: And that’s got to be, I mean, from my perspective, I actually think of how nice that is for the flight school because it’s like they have this solution that just like takes care of everything. They don’t have to fiddle with paperwork and communicate with this guy, that guy, you guys take care of all the backend stuff for them it sounds like.
Rod: Well that had to be part of the solution. So we needed to build Open Airplane not only as a great solution for pilots but also for the operators of the rental aircraft. So whether they’re a flight school or a flying club or now even an individual owner wants to rent their aircraft, we solve a lot of the hassle in sort of managing rental pilots and bringing those customers and getting better utilization under their fleet.
Chris: Great. I’m looking at the sheet for the universal pilot checkout. This looks like obviously something that the pilot himself could reference ahead of time to be able to study and be prepared for some of those things but it also looks like it’s for the flight school to go in and kind of check off the boxes and as they go along.
Rod: Yeah, each component is scored against the PTS so we’re not sort of just making up a new standard. Everyone knows what the PTS and obviously the insurance carriers have given us their support because they know that if everyone can demonstrate proficiency to the PTS, the system works really well. It really impacts safety and makes pilots more confident which means they’re going to have more fun if you can go demonstrate that kind of proficiency every 12 months. It just scrubs the bad habits off and makes flying a lot more fun. But it’s a standard that everyone understands and that way, you know what to expect. There are no surprises. You either meet the standard and get a satisfactory. You get an unsatistactory which means you’re invited to try again.
And then the boxes are verbal so for instance, night-flying. Most checkouts don’t happen at night so it might be something that check out verbally. Or not the form if you skip it. And not every box has to be filled. The guidance is the same as a flight review with the FAA and any flight review and so, Open Airplane and any universal pilot checkout is looking for a representative sample and the skills to demonstrate that you’re safe, confident pilots that we can give you this magic power.
Chris: So you talked about a yearly or an annual checkout. Tell us a little more about that because it sounds like each year, you need to be checked out again or am I misunderstanding that?
Rod: No, that’s exactly it. So every year, you go and book a universal pilot checkout using our web software. You fly that and that resets the clock for another 12 months where then if you go anywhere else and want to rent the same aircraft, there is no local checkout. You simply go online, find the aircraft you want to rent. The experience where the design is now you don’t have to pick up the phone and call the flight school anymore. Now you don’t have to go back and forth with emails. You simple find the airplane that you want to fly, you tell the flight school when you want to pick it up, when you want to bring it back, how many hours you expect to put on the airplane during that time and hit send.
They’ll get that request with their schedule and then be able to see your profile and instead of having to do this weird kind of job interview that happens when they start asking you questions about your background, they’ve got all the information that you need on your profile. If the airplane is available that confirm their reservation, you simply show up at the appropriate time. Now, we’ve got a local procedure briefing for every location so that stuff that we would try to jam into your head during our local checkout, instead of trying to learn that while you’re bouncing around the pattern, it’s all there documented for you show up for your rental, before your flights. You really plan your experience and be ready to fly the minute you walk into the door of the flight school. They’ll ask you if you have any questions. Give me the keys on the clipboard and walk you out to the airplane.
Chris: That’s a great goal and a great achievement. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about this annual checkout because I actually really like the idea of it, no disparaging comments there. Tell us why you guys went that direction because from the FAA’s perspective, they’re saying “Well, you only need to be checked out biannually so every two years.” And you’re going more so like not necessarily the airline direction because they have a higher frequency of checkout than that, but what’s the idea of doing it every year? Just to make sure pilots are keeping their heads in the game?
Rod: Well, the statistics are pretty grim and the idea that a flight review every 24 months is enough to keep a pilot proficient has proven not to work very well. That’s why the accident rates are so atrocious. That’s why I’m in the civil air patrol and the search and rescue business. I’d like to basically not have that job but we know that a lot of this is driven by the insurance carriers and so when we showed our idea for what became Open Airplane to the insurance carriers, part of what made these all work was that we would incentivize pilots to this annually instead of biannually which means that they’re going to be safer, they’re going to bend metal less often, and they are going to be more competent and more confident. And so we always tell people that we really built the company around the idea that we could make flying more convenient, safer and more fun for everybody.
Chris: It’s a really great goal and the more I look at myself and the frequency in which I fly, because I don’t fly professionally, I don’t fly for the civil air patrol. I’ll eventually get to the point here soon where I’m an instructor but as it stands right now and I know I’m like a lot of people. I don’t fly as often as I’d like to or as often as I should, or at least perhaps I don’t work on my skills as much as I should. So we talk a lot about this stuff on the podcast. My mine goes the fact that we as private pilots should be placing ourselves in the perspective of the airline guys where we’re doing recurring training, we’re constantly trying to grow. We’re asking our instructors to teach us something new that we’ve never done before or sharpen a skill that is rusty for us. So I really actually like the idea outside of the insurance argument because that’s something that they perhaps require. Outside all those arguments, it’s just common sense and a good idea to stay sharp as a pilot. I mean, it just makes sense to me.
Rod: Yeah, we’ve always said that the FAA will probably love it if flight reviews were due every 12 months instead of every 24 months. I mean, there’s the whole push to not call it a biannual anymore. Let’s call it a flight review and it seems like that’s the camel’s nose under that particular tent to try to get people away from thinking it’s something that you just have to do every 24 months and it’s really something you should do anytime your proficiency lapses. Currency is one thing but proficiency is really the thing that keeps you safe. And so it’s a different mindset and it works really well.
But we’d rather have the opportunity to incentivize pilots to stay proficient by scrubbing off any bad habits on a regular basis and let’s do that by offering the caveat of hey, you’ll get more flying. You’ll get to have less expense and less hassle if you follow this doctrine versus banging on people’s heads with a stick of more regulation.
Chris: The majority of pilots and not all, but the majority of pilots are cognizant that BFR is too long, not too long in the actual taking of the BFR but it’s too long for two years to go by without having done those things, and if you’re an active flying pilot, a lot of things count as a BFR anyway, and so you’re kind of constantly resetting that clock but this to me just makes complete sense and so I think it’s a really great idea.
So let’s talk about your fleet a little more. What kind of aircraft can people expect to rent from Open Airplane or the Open Airplane network?
Rod: Sure. We’ve got 89 locations in the Open Airplane network today, over 300 aircrafts, 33 typeslash on my check of the aircraft. Everything from taildraggers to light twins are available for rent in the system.
Chris: I’m assuming that as you travel the nation, you get to visit a lot of these locations and I don’t know how many of them you actually…
Rod: Best part about my job.
Chris: Yeah. I can imagine it is. What are some of the cooler experiences that you’ve had or some of the cooler locations that you can think of where Open Airplane is available and the types of airplanes that are there are so on.
Rod: I’m really proud that we’re in Alaska, we’re up at Palmer. Got two 172s available there so you can your universal checkout.
Chris: I plan on going up there and taking it.
Rod: So I haven’t been up there yet, so that’s something that’s on my bucket list but getting to travel around the country and hang out with pilots and then hang out with flight school owners and flying club owners has been the best part about this job. I’ve gotten to fly over Hawaii. We have an operator at Barbers Point Airport at Hawaii, just outside the Honolulu Class Bravo, and so I’ve flown up the coast of the north shore and over Pearl Harbor 172 and that was just absolutely amazing. I’ve gotten to travel using Open Airplane. We had an operator that we were standing up in Tallahassee and instead of driving most of the day, the folks that I was visiting in Naples rented a plane, flew up there, and was there just a couple hours.
So I’ve gotten to travel really across the country. I do some ferry flying as well, a ferry aircraft across the country sometimes, but using the Open Airplane network has given me an opportunity to see parts of the country that I would never have seen. I’ve been able to get trips done that would otherwise be impossible using the airlines or just renting cars, and so I’ve gotten to fly in some pretty cool places, the New York airspace, Colorado, Las Vegas is a blast. We’ve got a couple operators there that I’ve flown to the lowest airport in the US and Death Valley. Putting that in your logbook is a lot of fun. I’m the first to admit, airplanes are a lot of fun.
Chris: And I think that’s the cool thing for me in thinking about this because it opens up my mindset whereas when I would originally travel to different states, it’s more like “Okay, we’re going to go to this area and we’re just going to stay on the ground. It’s too expensive to go and get a checkout and get up and go anywhere but because this is such a simple option to have a universal checkout to know that there could be an airport in the area where I’m going and suddenly it’s like “Well, what about if one night we decided we wanted to fly from Atlanta where we are up to Tennessee and go the Grand Ole Opry or something. Suddenly it opens up all these different little options that you could add to your trip. And from a pilot’s perspective, it’s exciting for me too because I know that flying in those areas, I’m going to experience different and new things that help me grow as a pilot and lay a more solid foundation of those skills that I have, so I think it’s a fantastic idea and I’m very excited about it. Tell us about some of the success stories that you’ve heard. Are you getting a lot of feedback from the community as far as how people are enjoying Open Airplane?
Rod: It’s really been exciting because people are very proud of sort of being associated with the brand that we’re building. We set out to build the next great aviation brand and pilots who use Open Airplane are talking about it on social media, they post on twitter and Dig and Facebook and they talk about the adventures that we’re enable. We had a pilot who flew down from Indianapolis in Sean Berry. He had kind of a day before work commitments in Las Vegas sort of kicked in. So within an hour of landing at McLaren in the commercial airplane, he was turning the key on a Skyhawk and with a friend from his office, just a work colleague, they decided to go fly up to Canyonland, to the Grand Canyon and land there and go explore the Grand Canyon. So that becomes kind of an epic day trip that would just be impossible otherwise. There’s no way you’d do that kind of trip and do a local checkout. So typically they would, I don’t know, I guess you could find other things to do in Las Vegas but flying in that part of the country is pretty amazing so let’s go do that.
We have pilots who rent a plane in Florida and fly down to the Keys. Obviously Hawaii has been popular. There are folks who will rent a plane in Long Island and fly down and fly around the Statue of Liberty and you could still do that. And so you’ve got all these really great sort of experiences that people can have flying in the mountains in Colorado. We do have a mountain checkout that we can offer pilots. If you’re going to fly into an airport above 5,500 feet, you need to do a mountain checkout but we can offer that. That’s something you can do once and it’s just going to follow you forever, and that unlocks a bunch of really cool experiences. Be able to fly out of high altitude airports. So we’re doing fixed wing now. Next up is watercraft, seaplanes are on the horizon.
Chris: I’m working on my float rating. I would love seaplanes to be part of this. I would just love it because they’re so much fun.
Rod: You know, whenever pilots took me on my first trip in a floatplane last year at Oshkosh and really opened my eyes as to how much fun that is. This year, we saw the Icon-A5 fly for the first time at Oshkosh and I just looked up at that little airplane and I said “I can’t wait to be renting a whole bunch of those.”
Chris: No kidding. And now that production has started of the A5, gosh, if they’re pumping them out and we have FBOs that are getting those things, that would be the epitome of the perfect Open Airplane airplane.
Rod: See, we think that it goes beyond that and that’s what we’re really starting to see. That’s why we’re seeing aircraft owners that aren’t affiliated with flight school join Open Airplane, start renting their aircraft through our platform so that the airplane gets more hours, to help the airplane, airplanes that don’t fly a lot, cost more to maintain. So we’re starting to see aircraft that are event’ affiliated with flight schools or flying clubs join. We are seeing more flying clubs join which is great because if you’re not getting great utilization, we can help. But I don’t even see the future as just having to go to an FBO to rent an airplane. I look forward to the day where Open Airplane allows you to go down to the concierge’s desk of the hotel in Miami, and pick up the keys to the Icon-A5 that’s parked outside.
Chris: Man, that is the dream isn’t it? So let’s get into kind of maybe some more of the business aspects of this a little bit. I know that I’m just going to come back and get excited about Open Airplane. I have another idea about why it’s so great, but let’s talk about the flight school perspective or the FBO perspective or like you said, just someone that owns an airplane that wants to rent it out more. What is the process like for them in order to qualify for Open Airplane? What kind of things that they have to go through to get set up?
Rod: Oh, we try to make it as easy as possible. A flight school owner or a flying club or an FBO that rents aircraft or even now an individual aircraft owner that wants to rent aircraft contacts us and we talk about it. We’ll answer any questions. We have a brochure online if you will that explains how the whole thing works at Operators.openairplane.com, that’s kind of designed for flying clubs and flight schools. Owners.openairplane.com is a guide for aircraft owners who are sort of unaffiliated but want to get more hours in the aircraft, and then of course pilots.openairplane.com is what explains how Open Airplane works when you’re a pilot, so these are the resources we have online. Folks will typically review those.
We just basically have some forms that they fill out about their operation, there’s a datasheet for each aircraft. They send us photos. We do all the work. We do all the editing and the uploading. People don’t want to have to build another Facebook page right? And then we designed a business to work well with their business. So the business model is inherently compatible because the business model, well first of all, it’s simple enough for us pilots to understand. It’s this. Open Airplane is free to join as a pilot. It is free to join as an operator. We simply take 10% of the revenue that we enable when we rent an airplane to pay the bills. Out of that 10%, we are paying the credit card transaction fees, we try to put them at 3%, so we’re keeping 7% of the revenue to make this a business, and most folks can handle that within their current pricing. But even if they can’t because their margins are thin, we want people to protect their margins, so we give every operator the freedom to list the aircraft of whatever rate they need to to make sure that everytime the plane flies, it’s profitable. Because if planes aren’t profitable, it won’t be around for very long. So we sort of designed that into the system.
So being that it’s free to join and free to list and free to become part of a standardization evaluation program, it really makes a lot of sense and it means that operators that have availability, if their planes are parked during the week, they have the ability now to promote them through our platform and give more pilots flying with them.
Chris: So, I’m looking at the 10% thing here on owners.openairplane and you mentioned that, and I don’t think that’s anything to balk at. You can even consider it convenience fee, and from all the convenience that Open Airplane gives me, I don’t mind that that 10% is going to a great company that’s making this process very easy for me, so that’s very reasonable.
Rod: Well thank you. I mean, it’s a pretty smoking deal when you think about. Otherwise, you’d spend half a day and hundreds of dollars doing a local checkout each time. And so over 40% of the pilots who ever flown with us have flown with us again, and it doesn’t take a lot of trips to really start making the fact we did a universal pilot checkout in lieu of a typical flight review that you need to probably do anyways really pay off.
Chris: And I find myself looking at different locations where they have airplanes. It’s like “Okay, I’m flying into this city, I can rent an airplane there and I could fly around.” But then I’m like “You know what, I really don’t want to do that because I actually see here that they’re no affiliated with the Open Airplane and I’m just going to go and waste my money there.” I’ll go up with the instructor, that’s all the time I have anyway so I may as well just go to the Open Airplane-affiliated flight school or owner in that area and fly with them. And so there is a very easy guide on your website locations right at the top and a nice map and you can just find something in the area that you’re looking for. Tell me how fast that map is actually growing. How fast are you guys adding these airports on?
Rod: Well, we started with six locations across the US with two dozen aircraft in June of 2013. So we just passed two years of flying and we’re now in 89 locations with over 300 aircraft.
Chris: Man, that’s great growth. That’s really great. And I noticed that recently you added Hawaii to that, that was just recently wasn’t it?
Rod: Yeah, in the last year, and then they added a second aircraft. Most people aren’t checked out to fly 152s which was what they had at Barbers Point. They had a 172 and then that went away and then they just replaced it with a new 172 so we promoted that. And now that we’ve got the ability to get the word out to so many pilots, we have over 12,000 pilots in our email list. We now have just over 8,900 pilots who have gone online, created profiles and signed up to fly with Open Airplane. So now that we’ve got this reach, we can really offer flight schools that want to offer more value to their customers, make their product more valuable. We can really sort of help promote them through our platform.
Chris: And looking here, another thing I really like about this system by the way is when you do go to a flight school, and I’m looking at Barbers Point Flight School here, the one in Hawaii, when you do go to that flight school, you get to see the aircraft typically. I think I’ve seen a couple without pictures but typically, the flight school will pose pictures of the airplane. You can see the interior, you got to see a lot of information about it which is really nice because part of the apprehension of going and renting an airplane is you know there may be an FBO there but you don’t know the condition the airplanes are going to be in. And maybe it’s even on the opposite end where that flight school has all brand new airplanes and the rates for those airplanes are just high and so you don’t necessarily want to rend a really nice expensive airplane. So it’s nice that you can see that as well and I’m even seeing here in the Barbara Point 152 that you can rate the airplane too which is really nice. The airframe, the interior, the avionics, so this one has four out of five stars. So that’s pretty cool as well.
Rod: And those ratings only come from pilots who have actually flown the airplane. So only when a pilot has actually flown the airplane can they rate the aircraft and can they rate the operator. And it’s a dual-sided reputation system. The pilot gets rated and reviewed by the operator that they rented from.
Chris: Oh wow, really? So from the condition you left the airplane in and all that stuff.
Rod: Yeah. I mean, most pilots are very conscientious. They’re really excited to be able to fly the airplane, they take good care of it, but honestly, the fear with any operator is how is this person going to treat my airplane? So we created a system that really sort of incentivizes both the pilot and the operator to treat each other with respect. And so the pilot who brings the airplane back late, spots in the cockpit, not going to get a very good rating, right? So seen over the last two years as we’ve had more and more pilots flying with our system is that we’re really attracting the right kind of pilots and we’re really attracting the right kind of operator because the operators that are part of our network really do care about customer service because they know that they have a reputation at stake everytime a customer walks in the door, and that’s just not been something that’s been really strong in the industry.
And the flipside is the pilot knows that if they aren’t on their game and they treat the airplane or the operator poorly, that may impact their ability to rent airplanes down the line. So we’ve really created a tide that lives off with this reputation system.
Chris: Alright, so we’ve talk a lot about Open Airplane is, what it’s like from a pilot’s perspective from an owner/FBO/flight school perspective. Let’s talk about the future of Open Airplane and what you’re planning on from a business perspective. And I notice recently that you are actually opening up the business for angel investing and getting some investments in to grow this faster because obviously, we talk about the growth from 2013 until now. It’s obviously something that people are latching on to and I know that even for me personally, something that sounds really great so there’s a lot of interest there and I can imagine you want to take to the next level. So, let’s talk about your plans for doing that.
Rod: Yeah, Chris, we’ve bootstrapped the company so far and that only gets you so far so fast and now that we validated sort of the business model, we validated the technology, we validated this team being able to execute in this idea, we’re not looking to go faster and the way we’re going to do that is we’re going to take on investors so we have more resources than what we’ve had so far, and that will help us grow even faster, reach more people in the community and make an even bigger dent in the future. We’ve just taken on our first two angel investors. We raised our first 50k. We’re on our way to closing a 500k seed round and that gives us the ability to get to critical mass on this rental business in the US, and beyond that, we get calls all the time about bringing Open Airplane to other countries and we think anywhere there is already an existing general aviation infrastructure. We’re going to be a great fit one day and so we’re pedaling as fast we can to make this a really big business.
Chris: Great. And obviously, the United States, you being here, that will be the foundation. There’s going to be a lot of education to be had by going to different countries and doing it there just because of the regulatory differences and currency differences and all sorts of things and even just the cultural differences of how pilots fly in different parts of the world. At the end of the day, flying is flying once you get in the air but there’s a lot of things obviously that are a challenge. I’m loving the idea. I have to be honest. I love the idea of being able to travel somewhere with my family and utilizing this skill that I think about so much, that I put so much of my passion into and being able to open up the horizons for me, for my family and really digging down I guess to the adventure of flying. There’s just no reason why we shouldn’t be able to go somewhere, travel there and then fly, and I just think this opens up a whole new world for a lot of people. It’s proving already to be attractive I’m sure and will continue to do so, so my congratulations on the initial funding that you’ve received. I really hope that it helps you guys start to grow.
So what do you plan on, this is getting into kind of some nerdy business stuff but being a businessman myself, I like it. How do you plan on that strategy, say over like the next year, what’s your plan in growing?
Rod: We’re going to grow the team, we’re going to be able to, with more resources, be able reach out to more people, do more things that will grow the business, more events, more community events. It’s amazing why a few bucks’ worth of charcoal and some hotdogs will do to an airport, and creating community around this brand that we’re building. So we’re definitely going to accelerate that by raising capital and being able to do more advertising, paid media, those kinds of things. I mean right now, all the growth you’ve seen has come from zero spent in any kind of marketing dollar. It’s come from earned media through the fact that we’ve gotten something going that people are excited about, they’re proud to share it. So we’re a very social company. Open Airplane wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for social media. The whole meeting of myself and Adam Fast who is the co-founder, he was the CTO, he’s the brains of the operation, and Open Airplane wouldn’t exist without him. We wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for twitter and social media and the gaggle of people that get together in those kinds of platforms every year at Oshkosh.
So we owe our existence to those kinds of platforms being what helps us getting the word out but there are other things we can be doing that will helps us grow faster and get more pilots involved is what we’re doing and help us add more value to the community.
Chris: Great. So let’s wind down now. First of all, very simple to get started. A pilot or an owner or an operator essentially just goes to OpenAirplane.com right?
Rod: Exactly, and they can do it on any device. We designed it so that whether you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket or you’ve got a tablet on your knee or you’re at a laptop, it all works the same way. You just go to OpenAirplane.com and it works. Nothing to download.
Chris: Yup. I signed up the other day. Took me a couple minutes if even that. I started building my pilot profile. It takes you through kind of your pilot history and so at some point I actually had to stop because I needed to go get my logbooks and things like that, but it’s cool. It’s building a profile of who you are so that these flight schools, these FBOs, these operators can see who you are, so yeah, this guy is legit. Let’s hand him the keys.
Rod: Yup. You can also follow us on twitter OpenAirplane, one word. We also have a Facebook page, we post a lot too and you can reach us that way as well. Instagram, airplanes give you the opportunity to post some pretty pictures so we’re on all those platforms and we’re happy to connect with folks anyway they want to, and of course we’re actually a company that has a phone number so call us.
Chris: Yeah, that’s pretty rare. I don’t think even I have a phone number in my website. If I may complement you, actually the great thing about your social media is it’s not you selling Open Airplane all the time. In fact I don’t know if I see you selling Open Airplane that much. It’s you guys sharing cool photos and cool new locations and so you’re actually a pleasure to follow on social media. A lot of companies kind of cram their marketing down your throat and don’t realize that this is about a community sort of thing so my compliments on that as well. For you listeners, they’re worth following so go actually follow these guys. They’re pretty fun to follow.
Rod: Well, we follow you too Chris so thanks.
Chris: Oh okay. Good. Alright, so any last final words for our listeners here on getting into flying through civil air patrol which was just one of obviously our smaller topic or getting started with Open Airplane.
Rod: You know, the idea that your pilot certificate turns off when you leave your home base or something always bugged us and we think that anyone who spends upwards of six months and on average over 10,000 dollars to get a pilot certificate in this day and age needs to get more value out of that investment. And so Open Airplane is a way to enable that, to enable a lot of adventure, to enable a lot of utility out of having that piece of plastic in your wallet, and so the big thing that we’re all trying to crack is how do we get pilots off the couch and into the cockpit and whether you follow us, join us, or start flying with us, you can help.
Chris: Awesome. Love it. I feel that in that core principle there of getting pilots off the couch in flying, I feel like that’s what AviatorCast is all about. That’s why we come here every week and we want to share these podcasts so that we can get inspired to go out and do it because there are a lot of barriers in the way these days and we need less barriers and Open Airplane helps with that, so I’m excited about it.
Rod: Well thanks Chris. Looking forward to you getting checked out to fly with us and also good luck with your training.
Chris: Alright, appreciate it Rod. Thanks for joining us. We’ll catch up with you soon.
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Chris: Alright, a huge thanks goes out to Rod for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. It was great to talk about this new world of Open Airplane where you can literally get checked out in a 172 at one of the affiliated schools or FBOs or owners and then go anywhere in the nation and essentially have a place there where you can jump in an airplane and just go for a flight. I know that because this hasn’t been in place in the past, it’s held me back from going and experiencing such things where I wouldn’t be able to go do that and I even lived in Hawaii for a time where I could’ve potentially done this and I know that this is new there but had this been available there at the time that I was there, I would’ve loved to go and fly around the island. Now, I did go fly around the island one time but I was only able to do it with a friend that was already checked out at that flight school, and it would’ve prevented me from ever doing that. So this just opens up a lot of different opportunities to go to a destination where you’re going to be and expand your boundaries.
Usually you get in a car and you drive around, you try to see the sights but what if there is a sight just beyond the reach of car that you could get in an airplane? I mean, it really just opens up the horizons. It’s so cool. I think it’s such a great idea and I’m excited to see it grow, and I’m excited to take a part of it myself. I’m looking forward to getting it checked out in something like a 172. I may even jump in something else, and go and try this system out. I have no doubt that it’s going to be awesome. I wish Rod the best in his growth of Open Airplane. I think it is a compelling, compelling thing, something that we need here in aviation, so I have no doubt that it will continue down a successful path. And again Rod, thank you so much for joining us on the show.
A big thanks goes to the Angle of Attack crew for all they do to make AviatorCast possible. I know I say this each and every week but it’s true. We have a huge project going on here at Angle of Attack right now. Angle of Attack as the parent company of AviatorCast and some simulation training and other things we do is our main purpose is to create courseware and we specialize in video. So we have this huge project right now with people working from all over the world and it’s a difficult, difficult thing, and if I didn’t have a great crew to handle all that stuff all the time, I would have no bandwidth left to come here and to participate in AviatorCast. I believe AviatorCast is super important and that’s why I do come here and I do participate and I’m so excited about it, so again, thanks to the Angle of Attack crew for making all the possible.
Thank you the listener. I met a lot of you in Oshkosh and it was great to shake your hands and get pictures taken with you and show you guys the t-shirts, I gave a couple of them away. It was really great to participate in the community there face to face. A lot of you are enjoying what we’re coming up with here and I hope that you continue to do so. You guys are what makes this worth it. Even from the level of me seeing that people are downloading this and enjoying it and we’re experiencing growth there, that helps a lot to know that it is being enjoyed by a body of people, and not only that, the most personal greatest stuff is when you guys write me and tell me how much it’s been worth. I had a guy yesterday actually send me a text message. He is one of the AviatorCast listeners that I met in Oshkosh. His name is Glen. We’ve talked in the phone a couple times about some other things and we’ve become quick friends. I met Glen and his friend Scott at Oshkosh and we hang out there and saw some Warbird stuff together and met some other people together. But Glen sent me a text message yesterday with a picture and let me see if I can actually bring it up here. He sent me a text message, here he is standing by the tail of an airplane and he says “I just flew solo today. Two landings at this airport in a Piper Cherokee. Thanks for your inspiration. Glen.”
So, things like that just make it all worth it to me. You guys are awesome. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing AviatorCast. Thank you for reviewing it on iTunes or Stitcher. Apart from the t-shirt that you may win in doing so, it’s just cool that you guys are willing to do that and I really appreciate it. So, looking forward to moving forward with AviatorCast. It’s always been a pleasure and we’ll continue to be so. Join us next week. Again, we’re going to kick off that National Aviation Day with a lot of new stuff for you guys. I’m excited to share that Oshkosh stuff with you. So let’s get after it. A lot of new great stuff coming. Until then, until National Aviation Day, throttle on!
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