Staying on the narrow path of political correctness in Europe can be challenging and not just due to the fact you are moving about the countryside. Borders may be gone in the EU, but a change in attitude still comes with a change of the cellular carrier. However, I found a way to be “PC” while on a recent trip to Europe, and it came in the form of a single engine executive aircraft.
At the invitation of a client I took a ride on his PC-12 from Paris to Geneva where we were headed for the European Business Aviation Convention. The aircraft is built by Pilatus of Switzerland (doesn’t get more neutral than that) with the idea of giving the owner/pilot a relatively fast, cabin class airplane with which to move family, employees or friends about the land. Ahhh, what luxury to avoid the crush of the terminals at CDG and GVA, not to mention the attitude that comes with the national airline AF, when one gets to ride on a PC!
So it was simply “au naturel” to support the business aviation industry by traveling privately. Gone was the hassle of queuing to check-in as my trip started by driving up to the plane to drop my LV bag. From there one was ushered into the private lounge for a café and croissant and to meet and greet fellow passengers. Shortly thereafter we boarded our plane and within minutes found ourselves airborne en route to Geneva. Flying in Europe requires pre-arranged departure times, but leaving from this private airfield enables one to taxi directly from the parking area to the end of the runway.
Every seat was filled, but still nothing can compare to the ease and comfort with which we were transported. The PC-12 comfortably sat my eight fellow passengers and the cuisine proved exceptional having been catered by Le Notre of Paris. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if it were fair weather flying and the view of the fields of France would have yielded to the majestic Alps of Switzerland.
Though foul weather prevailed, the descent into Geneva was relatively smooth and the touchdown even more so. The combination of big fat tires, trailing link gear, and a very experienced Captain allowed for a landing as smooth as glass. The ever efficient Swiss had our bags off-loaded and ground transportation at the ready. One feels as if you can buy time given the amount we were saving. A unique feature of the exposition center at which the European Business Aviation Convention was being held is that it is directly adjacent to the airport. So the time from plane to plane business was measured in the minutes it took the transport to circle the airport.
So, it was easy to stay right down the middle of the road and yet raise my stock among the business aviation elite by arriving in PC style.