A new way to share an airplane — or at least a ride

Have you ever had hours tacked on to a trip because you had to go by commercial air carrier? Didn’t you wish you could have hitched a ride with another private pilot who just happened to have the same destination as you? Now it’s possible thanks to PilotShareTheRide.com.

Baldy Ivy, a self-described cowboy and pilot, created the website. He lives in a remote part of Arizona and when he needed to make a trip to Detroit found himself dreading the ride on an airliner.

“I live kind of far away from any big towns so I have to spend a day getting to a major city, then a day on an airliner,” he explains. “That adds at least four days to any trip.”

It would be so much easier, he thought, if he could find another private pilot who was going his way. He subscribes to several aviation publications so the first thing he did was check their classified ads to see if anyone was in similar situation.

“They had nothing!” he recalls. “Then a friend of mine told me how he set up something similar for his real estate business and I thought that might work for me.”

Being a computer novice, Ivy sought the help of a tech savvy friend.

“He told me it could be done for about $2,500,” Ivy says. “I support the site and I also received a partial grant from the Wolf Aviation Fund to help support it. And I have started to get a few advertisers on board after one and a half years online.”

There are similar websites out there, says Ivy, “but they are more like bulletin boards. I could post something today and say next week you want to make that trip. You have to go through 70 emails to read my post. Mine is easy to search so you can look up a pilot by state.”

Pilots get a free membership to Pilot Share The Ride for one year.

“It is for everything from taking trips to time building,” Ivy says. “There are pilots who are looking for a safety pilot for the day. There are other pilots who commute, like one guy who flies from Big Bear, Calif., to the LA basin three days a week. There are a lot of guys looking to build twin time and others looking for the $100 hamburger.”

Another aspect of the site is that it can, in Ivy’s words, help a person get a “flying fix” when on a business trip or vacation away from home base.

“If I was in Washington state, for example, I could look at the members list by state and contact any member,” he explains. “Or maybe you want a Stearman ride. You can actually post your desire in ‘members looking for a ride,’ and in the memo part say ‘I would love a Stearman ride.’ So the possibilities are many for a connection.”

Member numbers are growing, with about 6,000 pilots signed up. “We add eight new members on an average day,” Ivy notes.

Members are listed by state. Other information includes where they are based and what kind of aircraft they have. Some have notes on them like “I’ll use any excuse to fly.”

Sometimes members don’t wait for someone to contact them. According to Ivy, when Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf States, pilots on the website were quick to volunteer to help ferry people and animals to safety.

“We were there and helping before anyone else was,” he notes proudly.

WHO PAYS?

When pilots share a flight, how they will share expenses needs to be worked out in advance between the individual parties, Ivy says, because of FAA regulations.

“It is called commonality of purpose and there has been volumes written on it,” he says. “It has to do with sharing expenses and what is ‘legal.’ I spent two hours on the phone with AOPA legal services to be sure I understood it.”

What it boils down to is that the pilots sharing the ride must be going to the same destination, such as both heading to Oshkosh.

“You can’t drop someone off half way or go out of your way,” says Ivy. “The pilots connect through the website. Then it’s up to them to exchange emails or telephone calls or meet to see if the arrangement will work. In many ways it’s a lot like computer dating. You want to be sure you are compatible with the person before you spend a lot of time with them.”

The social aspects of Pilot Share The Ride are many, he adds. Pilots make new friends and reunite with old ones.

“We had a couple of pilot buddies in Alaska who were reunited after 18 years,” Ivy recalls. “We’ve also had one marriage as a result of Pilot Share the Ride!”

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