July 12, 2021

Business aircraft pilots leveraged the power of social media recently to ensure that family members traveling for a wedding, stuck more than 1,100 miles away by commercial airline cancellations, still made it to the church on time.

Jeff Coursey, administrator for the 13,000-member Private Jet Pilots (PJP) Facebook group, said the story began with a June 30 group post asking for travel alternatives for the father and brother of a bride getting married in Dallas, TX later that day.

The two men had been stranded for 24 hours in Fort Lauderdale, FL after two consecutive airline flights were cancelled due to weather and mechanical issues. “Right away, we had pilots researching other available commercial options, but none were available within the required timeframe,” Coursey said. “The discussion then shifted to how to make the trip work on a business aircraft.”

Several PJP members donated funds to help cover fuel and other operating costs, as Coursey spoke to a sports medicine doctor for whom he flies. It didn’t take long to convince the doctor to donate his Embraer Phenom 300 for the trip, although “his financial controller had some questions,” Coursey said.

Coursey also volunteered to pilot the for free flight free, in addition to donating his own money toward the effort. “The doctor even moved off a planned trip until the following evening so I wouldn’t be stressed about being back on time,” he added.

With the plan in place, Coursey repositioned the Phenom from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB) down to Florida to pick up the family members, and then flew them to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

In the end, the wedding was only delayed by a couple of hours, and the bride and groom invited Coursey to the ceremony. The story also drew coverage from the local NBC affiliate.

Watch “Strangers Crowdfund to Fly Father, Son to North Texas for Wedding” – KXAS-5

Donations for the trip came to approximately $9,800, which Coursey noted covered only about one-third of the total trip costs. However, the rewards far outweighed the financials for everyone involved.

“The nature of our industry offers the tremendous ability to help out in times of need,” he said, “and this just shows what we all can do when people working in business aviation come together to solve a problem. It’s pretty sweet.”