The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 28, 2008 • Issue 08:04:02
Wish for dying kids takes flight
One of our industry leaders barely missed breaking the world speed record for circumnavigating the globe in the very light jet category. Jared Isaacman, 25-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of United Bank Card and United Cash solutions, fell short of the feat on April 5, 2008. It was his second attempt to break the record of 83 hours set by M. Naviede of Great Britain in 1991.
Isaacman's first effort ended in disappointment after just 17 hours. "On our first attempt, we were on track to shatter the record," Isaacman recounted. "The winds and temperatures were great.
"Everything was going perfectly until we landed in Pakistan to refuel. At that point, we were denied a landing permit - which we already had for India - and they wouldn't reissue another one for at least 24 hours. So in one shot they blew up a beautiful attempt."
Determined not to give up
Isaacman approached this challenge for two reasons: to test himself and his aircraft and create a novel approach to raise awareness for charities.
Flying on behalf of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, Isaacman raised over $50,000 for the organization from donations made via the Make-A-Wish link through their Web site at www.speedaroundtheworld.com.
"For us to be able to do these things for our own enjoyment and at the same time achieve something so much greater for the Make-A-Wish foundation is exciting - and we don't plan on stopping," Isaacman said. "They serve a very unfortunate but necessary task, and we wanted to support them. When I decided to do this trip around the world they were the only organization I called."
Many of the Make-A-Wish children showed up to offer encouragement when Isaacman left Morristown airport in New Jersey for the second attempt. "We didn't want to give any sort of message that we would give up on those kids who saw us leave," Isaacman said. He started his second flight on April 2, 2008, from Qatar, a small country on the Persian Gulf. But failing winds and falling temperatures would be a portent of things to come: A two-and-a-half hour holdup in India created a domino effect resulting in 11 hours of additional ground delays in Japan and Russia.
Despite the setbacks, he missed the record by only an hour. And, he submitted claims for 17 other world speed records to the National Aero Association and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Team behind the scenes
"There's no doubt in my mind we would have beaten the record by ten hours or more," he said. To have been so close only fuels his desire, so Isaacman and his co-pilots, Shaun Leach and Doug Demko, undertake a third attempt in mid-June 2008.
"We planned for two months," Isaacman said. "Our ground team was Walter Garner, Director of Operations for 26 North Aviation; Jimmy MacConnell, its Director of Maintenance; and John "Biv" Biviano, 26 North's Aircraft Technician. They were staying up just as much as we were, calling all the stops in advance, making sure our fuel was ready and coordinating quick turns so we could get out of each airport expeditiously.
"Emily Holmes, UBC's Graphic Artist and Web Designer, put together the www.speedaroundtheworld.com Web site and administered it - we couldn't have asked for better support on this trip."
Pennies for humanity
In addition to his work with Make-A-Wish, Isaacman and UBC started "Pennies for Humanity" nearly two years ago to raise money for other charities.
On UBC's merchant application, business owners can sign up to donate a penny per transaction. Isaacman expects this will generate millions of dollars per year.
"Listen, we're all mortal," he said. "We are in a very exciting industry, and we have a lot of fun. At the same time, we each have to find what's exciting and rewarding for ourselves.
"Aviation is my passion, my therapy, but giving to Make-A-Wish and other charities is very rewarding for me. If there is something out there that touches you, then pursue it. Make a decision and follow your dream."
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