It is unusual to find a private jet charter company whose founder wishes to remain boutique, small and serves specific demographic needs, but Advanced Aviation Team fits this rare criterion.
Gregg Brunson-Pitts is the founder and CEO of Advanced Aviation Team. Since 2015, he has been managing charter aircraft solutions for national leaders, presidential candidates, heads-of-state, celebrities and government agencies, along with their families, and with or without their dogs.
Gregg’s experience with these populations spans every state in the US, more than 40 countries, and 6 continents. And his experience comes with a distinctive perspective of this high-end group, as he served as Director of the White House travel office from 2005-2009. He was directly responsible for managing the $20 million annual White House press corps budget as well as the charter aircraft operation that traveled in tandem with Air Force One. Gregg coordinated with the U.S. Secret Service, Department of State, Military Office, and the White House press corps to manage logistics and operations for all international trips during the second Bush-Cheney Administration.
Gregg and his team have coupled his high-end government expertise with a focus on a committed personalized customer service.
SherpaReport recently interviewed Mr. Brunson-Pitts, regarding the present and future of his company, Advanced Aviation Team
SherpaReport: As you have worked with celebrities as well as presidential candidates, what lessons have you learned in knowing these very visible people?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: I think we have learned to be as transparent as possible. Most of the time, our guests, whether they are celebrities or candidates, want to know details and particulars about the safety of our aircraft, the qualifications of the pilot, and what to expect on the trip.
SherpaReport: Since you founded Advanced Aviation Team in 2015, what did you see in the private aviation industry that you felt was missing, i.e., that Advanced Aviation Team could provide?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: We could provide, both then and now, a sense of consistency, of meaning what you say, of being there on time, of caring for your passengers to a far greater level than what they expect and making them feel safe as they start and end the journey. Many are concerned with flying, but we can help them feel more comfortable, as they learn more about the aircraft and the dimensions of the trip. As an example, Advanced Aviation Team completed more than 1,130 seamless flights for the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020.
SherpaReport: Is there a difference in the flying preferences between celebrities and those in the governmental fields?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: There may be personality differences between these two populations, however they would all prefer their planes being on time, thus respecting their capricious schedules. As an example, those who are in elections often have no idea when their speeches will end and the handshaking begins and ends. Celebrities have press events, and networking. No matter what, we have to have the plane ready when they are, and that can be challenging. Yet, we fly a whole range of aircraft from smaller turboprops and helicopters to large airliners like Boeing 737s , so we can accommodate multiple groups or just one or two people.
SherpaReport: When will you start doing flight preparations for Presidential and other types of governmental -- senate / house of representatives / candidates in the 2024 election?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: We started it already. We started doing this last year!
SherpaReport: Are you planning on expanding the Advanced Aviation Team footprint soon, or in the near future?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: Expansion is always a possibility; however, I always want to keep the boutique feel to Advanced Aviation Team. I think one of the reasons our clients and aircraft operators like working with us is because of the personal attention they receive. To create an elevated flight experience and soften the rigors - and sometimes - the anxieties of travel - we provide comforts of personalized catering, custom gifting, floral arrangements, specialty magazines or newspapers, cabin supplies, and any other detail to make their flights enjoyable, less apprehensive.
Further, as the owner of the company, I am accessible to them, which is typically not the case with some of the larger jet charter providers.
SherpaReport: When you said you were a boutique company, what does that mean to you?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: As a boutique company, we pride ourselves on providing customized experiences tailored to the specific needs and preferences of our clients. We believe in taking a personalized approach and do not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Whether it's a family in need of a small jet for a weekend trip or a band looking for a large aircraft with equipment for a three-week tour, we work closely with our clients to customize the aircraft and onboard experience. When it comes to catering, we like to offer locally sourced, fresh, and interesting menu options that cater to the unique preferences of the passenger. From Chick-fil-A to refined dinner menus, we personalize every aspect of the catering to make each trip memorable.
Our team works closely with flight attendants to ensure that all passenger preferences are tended to, thus creating a truly personalized experience. At Advanced Aviation Team, we make sure our guests feel valued and well taken care of throughout their journey.
SherpaReport: Finally, as you work with this unique population -- Presidential candidates and other government employees, are they essentially or in any way different (in terms of needs and wants and requests) from others who fly with Advanced Aviation Team?
Mr. Brunson-Pitts: Working with political campaigns brings a unique set of challenges and responsibilities.
With campaigns, the stakes are high. A candidate could have an audience of supporters, a group of donors or live TV cameras awaiting their arrival. Moreover, their schedules are often influenced by current events and world news, requiring us to be adaptable and responsive. This flexibility is particularly crucial in the aviation industry, where quick turnarounds can be demanding.
With all this in mind, what sets AAT apart is the depth of our experience. I have a unique perspective as a once former client who worked with a charter provider as Director of the White House Travel Office. Additionally, I served in operations and logistics on a presidential campaign, so I have a firsthand understanding of the intricacies involved in moving a candidate efficiently. I have been involved in every presidential election since 2004. Jonathan Tasler on our team has been the charter provider and worked with campaigns for every presidential election since Bush-Cheney in 1999. There is a shared language, understanding and trust.