Travel by PRIVATE JET is growing more popular among equestrians.
With the hassles of today’s air travel, more and more equestrian families have turned to flying charter, remaking travel to horse shows into a pleasant experience. Do you want to bring your dog? Skip the lines? Take off on your schedule? Not a problem. EQLiving spoke with Joe White, co-founder with Maya Saxena of Saxena White, a Boca Ration, Florida, law firm, about their travels.
Yes. Maya’s daughter, Mia, is 11, and my daughter, Isabella, is 10, and both ride. My other daughter, Nicole, rode as well. Maya has a farm in Wellington, Forget Me Not Farm, and the girls all ride there. We’ve been using Nicholas Air to get us to pony finals and shows around the circuit.
We have many dogs, and yes, they travel. Two years ago at pony finals, we purchased white Lab puppies. Actually, we bought them two weeks before the pony finals show because the kids were in Kentucky for about a month, showing and practicing. So, we got the puppies, and brought them back to Florida for a couple weeks, then we went back to pony finals with them. So those little boys have been on Nicholas Air a few times. We have five dogs between us, and most of them have been on a plane.
We sure did! We had two flights. I took my family on one flight, and then we took Maya’s family and another business partner’s family out on a second plane. Commercial flight times were changing constantly because of what was happening down here, and the airports were running out of gas. Nicholas Air was great throughout the whole process.
One of the things that attracted me to Nicholas Air—and I’m a private pilot myself—is that they have a very young fleet. Most of their aircraft are five years old or newer, so you’re getting the latest technology, both in the cockpit for the pilots and in the cabin for the passengers. Unlike some of the other options that are available in the charter market, you don’t want to be on a 20-year-old Cessna jet if you can have a 3-year-old Embraer Phenom that is much more comfortable, capable, and has a great safety track-record.
Yes, we see a lot of the same faces. Another benefit of Nicholas Air is that they have their own employee pilots. A lot of times, if you go through a service, and I’ve used other charter services, too, they just go out into the charter market, and they’ll procure a jet for you, and then whoever happens to be flying that jet is whom you’ll see that day. Most jets are in the charter market. Someone owns them, and they put them up for charter when they aren’t being used, and then you’ll randomly get paired up with a pilot. With Nicholas Air, you know that you’re getting pilots that have good recurrent training. They’re very comfortable with the aircraft; they’ve spent time in it.
For example, my daughter was returning from camp in Pennsylvania, and I needed to have a plane go pick her up by herself. I knew who the pilot was days in advance. It was someone that we had worked with before, and I felt very comfortable that my young daughter would leave camp, get picked up, and then be flown to meet us in Kentucky for pony finals with the rest of the family. Otherwise, it would have been a much more difficult day for me to have to get up there to get her, but I had no concerns knowing that the pilot wasn’t a stranger. Companies like Nicholas Air, that have their own pilots, are few and far between.
How about costs? For example, many equestrians live in the Northeast, and the dads often commute in the winter down to Wellington and back every weekend. If a few got together, would it cost much more than flying commercial?
If two or three of the dads who knew they were coming down got together and chartered the flight, it would save them a ton of time. They would have a lot more fun, and it really isn’t that expensive when you look at what the per-hour cost is. Obviously, if these guys are footing the bill for the horse shows, they understand that their time is valuable, and when you get four or five extra hours back in a day, it can be wonderful, particularly on a weekend trip. We have a lot of friends who do that. Plus there are ways to write off certain portions of it.
By the time you’re all said and done, you can’t beat the fact that you don’t have to get to the airport any earlier than five minutes before you want to take off, quite frankly, as opposed to getting there two and a half hours early to get through security
Any final thoughts?
When we started with Nicholas Air, they had a smaller fleet in terms of what their capabilities were, but they’ve since added larger aircraft that gives them the ability to fly farther. For example, they can fly us to ski country in the winter. I can safely say that we’ve never had any difficulty with the company. They’ve always been easy to work with; they’re extremely responsive. I don’t have any complaints. It’s not just the service; a lot of it, too, is just making sure the airplanes are in perfect working order. Plus, everything in the aircraft is comfortable for the kids, and you don’t have to worry about any safety issues because of their commitment to safety.