Travel writer hitchhiking around the country — on GA aircraft

A veteran travel writer has embarked on a journey across the U.S. to answer the question: Is it possible to hitchhike around the country on private jets and small planes? The attempt has been registered with Guinness World Records.

Rochester, N.Y. native Amber Nolan is attempting to visit all 50 states on a shoestring budget by hitching rides with private pilots. In October she landed in Portland, Oregon, marking the 13th state she has reached by air. She continues on her quest seeking great destinations, fascinating people, and adventure across the United States.

The Trek — dubbed Jethiking — began in July and is recording Nolan’s adventures as she attempts to redefine modern hitchhiking, through a series of webcasts, radio interviews and on-line blogging on A 13-week television series, “The Flying Gypsy” is in preproduction. Rochester based marketing/production company, Flying Gypsy Productions, is handling marketing, and is negotiating for commercial sponsorships in support of the trek and television series. Production Company Representatives are also speaking with television networks for placement of the first U.S. Flying Gypsy adventure series. Future television programming would include The Gypsy’s hitchhiking the globe.

“It takes a lot of research, time and networking to plan these trips,” Nolan remarks. “Getting a ride is half the challenge. I discovered very quickly that it’s not practical to sit at the airport with your thumb in the air.”

Nolan finds private pilots and their families to be very cooperative in allowing her to “hitch” rides, once they understand her goal. “The aviation community has been wonderful. They’ve been very supportive and have helped breathe life into this crazy idea I had.”

Nolan, 28, has been traveling the globe and reporting on her adventures since she graduated from college. Her wanderlust has taken her to exotic locations such as the jungles of Colombia, and to familiar tourist spots like Key West, Florida, where she climbed into a rocket jet pack and soared through the air.

Goals of the project are to: explore lesser-known tourism attractions, promote general aviation and travel, combat common misconceptions of the air industry and help promote recreational flying while demonstrating that in a difficult economy, budget travel is still possible with a little creativity.

Nolan is particularly interested in “eco-tourism” and will introduce her audiences to burgeoning green technology products, people, and places. The production team sees Nolan as a role model for people, especially for young females. Instead of dreaming about her goals…she is living them.

Learn more about her trek at


  1. says

    I spent 24 years controlling airplanes at Los Angeles and Miami centers and over that time, received numerous offers from pilot/aircraft owners. I recall one time while working sector seven at Miami (between Fort Myers and Tampa) that a King air pilot from Warsaw, Indiana invited me to fly back home with him the next day. The downside to this type of travel is the “one way” aspect. I’m sure you will find a lot of single pilot aircraft flying around the country looking for company. Good luck

  2. says

    This sounds like a fun project, but it is not something the average person with the average job could do. First of all, pilots are more likely to accept an attractive young lady as a passenger…most guys wouldn’t stand a chance. Secondly, as a retired broadcaster, I know that cameras and microphones open many doors that would be shut to a non-reporter. As a pilot and TV meteorologist I took advantage of every opportunity to hitch a ride. I flew in an F-16 with the USAF, with the Navy’s Blue Angels in an F/A-18, in a formation flight with the Canadian Snowbirds in their Tutor jet, and my wife and I were even treated to a trip from London to New York to Phoenix on the Concorde.
    I was able to hitch several “flights of a lifetime” due to my media connection, but of course, that all went away after retirement.

    My point is, it’s a fun project for a reporter, and it might result in a reality TV deal, but it’ll never happen for the “average Joe”, which I am now.

  3. Tom Sapelak says

    I have visited several ride share or pilot share sites and have yet to receive a reply. I am a pilot and your article intrest me with respect to how you found these open seats.
    Tom Sapelak

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