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Aero-Smith program permits travelers to own Learjet temporarily

October 09, 2000

Aero-Smith program permits travelers to own Learjet temporarily



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Residents and business leaders can be partial owners of a Learjet flying out of Hagerstown Regional Airport as part of Aero-Smith Inc.'s ongoing efforts to expand its service.

Under the company's Fractional Aircraft Ownership Program, travelers will have the chance to partially own a Learjet 31A.

The Learjet 31A is capable of carrying seven passengers at a speed of 520 mph, said Howard Leedham, Aero-Smith's chief pilot. For a lower cost, a twin-engine turbo prop King Air B200 can carry up to nine passengers at 330 mph, said Leedham.

The two planes are the best in their class, and flying in them through the program can greatly reduce the time it takes to get to other airports, Leedham said.

From Hagerstown, a passenger on the Learjet can fly to New York City in 35 minutes, to Chicago in 70 minutes and to Tampa, Fla. in 1 hour, 50 minutes, he said.

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"Time is the most valuable commodity to businessmen. Why waste it?" said Leedham, who is also president of Charity Airlift, an international nonprofit charity to be based in Hagerstown.

Under the Fractional Aircraft Ownership Program, people can buy temporary ownership of one of the planes, which entitles them to unlimited use for 81 days, he said.

Since the Fractional Aircraft Ownership Program began about a month ago, the company has been having at least four meetings a week with business leaders interested in participating, he said.

Those most likely to join the program are business leaders who spend 100 or more hours a year traveling by air, he said.

The company, which is a fixed-base operator and aircraft charter service provider at Hagerstown Regional Airport, is also increasing the size of its fleet for charter airplanes out of the Hagerstown airport from three to five planes, he said.

The expansion of Aero-Smith's service comes in reaction to a steady increase in local demand for enhanced travel from the Hagerstown area, the company said.

Business and pleasure travelers who currently choose scheduled airline travel from Hagerstown are frustrated that they must make a connection through Pittsburgh regardless of the final destination, he said.

"We're saying, 'Look, if you have a problem flying out of Hagerstown, we can solve it, either through charter or through Fractional Ownership," he said.

"At Aero-Smith, we can offer up to 70 percent time savings over some scheduled timetables," he said.

"Owners have all the advantages of domestic corporate air travel: No lines, no connections, no baggage loss, no over-bookings, plus travel at the times and to the locations of their choice," said Leedham.

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