I often fly a single engine plane around the west coast to
visit companies. Although the majority
of my posts are about buying and selling companies, occasionally I write about
flying. This is one of those posts.
We had arranged to meet with the owners of a company about
selling their business, and I called them last week and left a message that there
would be three of us. I know that three
people showing up at most companies may cause suspicion among employees. Sure enough, a few days later my contact
called and asked to meet elsewhere. One
nice thing about flying is that many airports of size have conference rooms you
can use. Sure enough, the airport at
had a conference room and we arranged to meet there.
The weather at takeoff wasn’t good or bad. There was a layer of clouds right around
4,000 feet above the hills and 2,000 feet above the valley. It was safe enough
to fly below them, which I did on the way there, and on the way back I climbed
above them by finding a large hole in the cloud layer.
I was flying VFR, and under VFR flight rules you can’t fly
through the clouds, or even right up next to them. But even flying a few thousand feet from them
is interesting, because you get a feeling of speed that you don’t get on a
clear day. On a clear day you have to
look at your instruments to see how fast you are going, but when you see the
clouds zoom by you know you are actually going pretty darn fast.
The winds were light and the flight was smooth. I used to practice approach and landings at
training about 10 years ago, and I noticed then the field seemed pretty
dead. Now there seems to be quite a few
aviation businesses on the field and there is a nice restaurant that overlooks
Most airports have private terminals (called FBOs or Fixed
Base Operators) that handle private aircraft traffic. At the larger airports you’ll find really
nice FBOs that try to roll out the red carpet and they cater mainly to jets. I don’t find I need a red carpet and usually
try to find a more comfortable “second-tier” FBO to use. Fuel is cheaper too. However, when meeting a client I almost
always choose the big guy on the field, because I figure it never hurts to
impress the client. Sometimes it does
look a little funny to see four big jets side-by-side, then my little plane
next to them. I just point in the
general direction and say, “that one over there is mine”.
I got there 30 minutes before the meeting, and the girl at the
desk offered a use of a “crew car” so I could run and get something to
eat. That certainly is a perk that the
smaller FBOs don’t offer – a free car to use for a few hours. I brought my lunch so I didn’t use the car,
but I did use the free wifi while waiting.
We had a fruitful meeting, and I collected a bunch of
financials in order to do a valuation.
We ended the meeting on time, and looking at my watch I knew that I was
going to be able to get home in time for dinner. Nice thing, this flying, when it all works
out (Sometime I’ll write a post where it didn’t work out as planned).