It just isn’t worth the bother.
Today I got yet another e-mail from yet another person looking for a cheap helicopter ride. I get a few e-mails and calls a month. They’re all pretty much the same:
Person A really wants a helicopter ride. The e-mailer/caller wants to get Person A the ride but the e-mailer/caller is not rich. Besides, Person A doesn’t really need a long flight. “Just a short ride.” You know. Not too expensive.
What the e-mailer/caller doesn’t understand is that I’m already operating my helicopter charter business on very tight margins. My hourly rate is as low as I can make it. If I start slicing it up to do 20 or 30 minute “rides,” I’m bringing in very little money.
Yet every time I fly, I have the same routine to follow:
- Book the flight.
- Create a manifest and weight and balance.
- File a flight plan (I do all passenger flights as Part 135 flights).
- Go to the airport.
- Pull out the helicopter.
- Fuel the helicopter.
- Preflight the helicopter.
- Wait for the passengers.
- Brief the passengers.
- Do the flight.
- Collect payment for the flight.
- Close my flight plan.
- Postflight the helicopter.
- Put away the helicopter.
- Go home.
I get paid for doing #10. On a 20-minute flight, I might net $30-$40. But the whole process outlined here could take 3 hours or more for that 20-minute flight.
Tell me, do you think it’s worth the bother?
Don’t get me wrong. I like to fly. And I understand that I often have to do things that I don’t want to do to build my business. (Believe me, I do plenty of things I don’t want to do.) But I also know that I can’t build my business selling occasional helicopter rides to mommies for their 10-year-old kids.
A few years ago, I decided that it simply wasn’t worth a trip to the airport for less than an hour of flight time. I drew the line there and I won’t cross it.
So don’t ask me for “just a helicopter ride.” I don’t think it’s worth just three hours of my life to sell you one.