Above and Beyond
For anyone with an interest in the freedom and exhilaration that comes from learning to fly, Infinity Flight Group delivers “a better way to travel”
by Theodora Malison

His business office approximately 300 miles away from his home in the Greater Philadelphia Area, Mike Kelly had a commute one could adequately describe as undesirable.

Considering the distance from A to B, air travel became a frequent, and often frustrating, part of his everyday life. He would get up early, drive to Philadelphia International Airport and spend several hours navigating congested security lines and waiting for his flight to depart. Factor in the all-too-frequent delays or cancellations that threatened to derail his business meetings and return trips, and the process became next to unbearable.

So Kelly found a different way: Several times a month he hired a pilot through Trenton, N.J.-based Infinity Flight Group LLC to fly him to and from work.

“Instead of getting up at 4 a.m. for my flight, I was waking up at 7 a.m. and experiencing a much easier process,” Kelly says. “It was more expensive but by far a much better way to travel.”

Kelly belongs to an increasingly robust population taking to the skies with help from Infinity Flight Group. This includes anyone from area professionals seeking to fly for work commutes or other business travel to high school and college students pursuing careers in aviation to flying enthusiasts looking to fulfill a personal dream.

Infinity Flight Group boasts a diverse fleet of meticulously maintained aircraft made by Cessna, the world’s leading manufacturer of aviation aircraft for more than 70 years. Infinity’s expansive fleet includes several newer model 172SPs, G-1000 models that feature digital glass cockpits, and a twin-engine Piper Seminole. The company’s certified and experienced flight instructors are well equipped to teach students to fly, according to Gregory John, owner of Infinity Flight Group.

“We are an aviation company and flight school,” says John. “We teach people how to fly for commercial and recreational purposes. We sell, manage and maintain each of our aircrafts. All of our instructors are well seasoned, with several thousands of hours of flight experience among them. We’re a growing business, and we cater to a wide variety of clientele. Customer satisfaction and safety are always our main priorities.”

John notes that Infinity’s clientele represents an equal mix of students such as Kelly, who want to ease a business commute, and those who want to learn to fly as a pastime.

“Some people have always wanted to learn to fly, so they’re living their dream,” he says. “There’s the personal travel side to flying; it allows people to go where they want, when they want, and do so quickly. There’s also the business side, where business owners, executives and professionals want quicker travel between locations for events, meetings, etc. Being able to fly allows for flexibility, and many of our students will later go on to purchase an airplane if they have the financial means to do so.”

For Kelly, his experience with Infinity encouraged him to obtain a private pilot license. He says taking this step dramatically improved his commute but also affected his quality of life.

“Now that I have been exposed to flying, it’s easier to visit my daughter in Long Island,” he says. “By car, she lives four and a half hours away on a good day. My wife was able to fly up for a work party. One time, we even ended up going to Charleston [S.C.] for a weekend, which is very hard to get to from Philadelphia. The travel to work has become less of a grind and has made my quality of life significantly better because I can arrive home faster and be back for things that are important, but without having to abide by typical airline schedules.”

Infinity does not restrict lessons to just adults. In fact, the company offers a degree program through Mercer County Community College for recent high school graduates who are considering piloting as a full-time occupation.

“The degree program offered through Mercer County Community College partners with American Airlines, and down the line American Airlines will hire students directly from our program,” John says. “There’s a huge pilot shortage right now, so this is a great opportunity for the students once they complete their necessary requirements.

“We also see high school students looking to fly as a résumé booster,” he continues. “It’s not only a hobby for some, but it’s also a great résumé builder for kids applying to colleges as well, [because] it teaches and shows discipline. We see students at 14 and 15 years old, and they receive their license at 17. They’re not necessarily trying to become a pilot but enjoy flying for fun.”

Such is the case with Ron Barnes, whose son has started learning to fly through Infinity at the age of 14 and has since earned a private pilot license. As a parent and pilot himself, Barnes notes the discipline and competitive advantage his son has gained through the experience.

“[Infinity] is truly one of the best options because of their location,” he says. “You’re training in some of the busiest airspace in the country so you’re able to develop the important skill of communicating with a busy control tower, while you’re learning a greater range of flight maneuvers. Although my son is not pursuing this as a professional career at the moment, we feel that flying has provided a challenging technical experience that has generated a lot of questions from colleges when they see this on his résumé. He’s currently pursuing his multi-engine and commercial ratings.”

John says while someone can start accumulating flight time prior to being 17, in order to earn a private pilot license, he or she must be at least 17 years old, log a minimum of 40 hours of flight and meet certain requirements for flight time—20 hours with an instructor, along with at least 10 hours solo.

“You have to be physically and mentally capable,” he adds. “If you can drive a car, you can pretty much fly an airplane. The process overall takes anywhere from three to nine months, depending on how often per week a client comes in. Some come in three days a week, and some only come in one. The general cost is roughly $10,000 to $12,000 for a private pilot license.

“The Mercer County Community College program, on the other hand, takes about two years,” he continues. “It’s fairly intensive and costs up to $50,000. Students will come out with an associate’s degree in flight technologies.”

Is it worth it? Just ask Kelly, who first came into contact with Infinity when seeking an alternative for a more convenient commute. For him, getting his private pilot license has had immeasurable benefits in terms of freedom, flexibility and the simple exhilaration of learning something new.

“The process is a challenge, and for me, it puts me in a back-to-school mode, which I’m always eager to learn,” he says. “Learning to fly truly gives access to a better transportation model. For busy professionals, that is really great.”

Infinity Flight Group LLC
10 W. Piper Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08628

Photograph by Alison Dunlap