CEOs in the Cockpit

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Despite the downturn in general aviation aircraft sales, there may be a bright spot in the gloom: more business owners with the bucks to learn to fly are turning to light aircraft to make their meetings and appointments rather than suffering the misery of coach class airline flying. In its December 23rd issue, Time magazine reports on two such business owners who are eschewing the airlines in favor of their own aircraft. (One, Andrew King, of Farmingdale, New York, got serious about learning to fly and took a 20-day intensive pilot course in Florida.) This is not the first time this trend has surfaced but this time around, the industry is better prepared to capitalize on disenchantment with the airlines, with new, high-tech singles from Cirrus and Lancair and aggressive learn-to-fly programs from AOPA and the Be-A-Pilot campaign. Student starts are up and although Time reports that no one tracks how many new students are business owners, the National Business Aviation Association says that its research shows that 6 percent more business people are flying themselves in their own aircraft or rentals than were doing so a year ago.