New TV Show Air Fare America Highlights General Aviation

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Co-executive producers Joel Westbrook & Andrea Vernot, along with Katherine Vences during the show's debut at Sun n' Fun in April, 2014. Photo © John Slemp

One of the best-kept secrets about the general aviation industry is the camaraderie it yields, and a new TV show plans to take an inside look at this camaraderie by visiting airports and showcasing the food, flying, hangar treasures and stories associated with them.

General aviation has long been known for its “hundred-dollar hamburgers,” fly-ins and hangar flying. But these things wouldn’t be what they are without the camaraderie that accompanies them.

This community, fostered by a mutual love of flight, is the reason aviation is about more than just flying machines. It’s what brings us together. And Air Fare America is bringing all of these things together into a single television show that will showcase what general aviation airports are about: Food, flying and hangar treasures.

Casting for the show, which will include a pilot, a chef, and a “hangar rat,” is happening now. According to Joel Westbrook, Executive Producer at Interface Media Group, casting will be extremely important to the success of the show. “The show will live or die based on the relationship of these three characters,” said Westbrook.

As far as what they’re looking for in a pilot? “We’re looking for someone who can fly almost anything,” said Westbrook, adding that they’ll be on the hunt for unique aircraft to fly. The nice thing, he says, is that they’re not limited by age, sex, ethnicity, or even beauty.

“We’re not looking for people who have great hair and great teeth and don’t know what they’re talking about. We’re looking for authenticity.”

Each episode of Air Fare America is expected to center around the cast of three characters – an adrenaline-junkie pilot, a professional chef and a colorful "picker" - who will fly into various general aviation airports, eat at the associated restaurant and search the hangars for interesting aircraft to fly.

The chef will set out to improve upon the restaurant’s menu, which will vary from local “mom & pop” eateries to high-end five-star restaurants. In the meantime, the picker will check out what local pilots have stored in their hangars. The three characters will begin each show in the cockpit of an airplane and end each show sharing a meal. And while the characters are sure to be interesting, telling the stories surrounding them will also be important, according to Andrea Vernot, creator and co-executive producer of the show. “What we want to show is why people are in love with [aviation]. What’s it about? ”

Vernot says her idea stemmed from a history of being fascinated by general aviation airports while traveling to various destinations around the world as a child. As a former destination marketer with experience in economic development, Vernot continued to be fascinated with general aviation and wanted to share this fascination with the general public. “The aviation community already knows how great [aviation] is. But people in the non-flying community don’t. When they find out, they always say, ‘I had no idea. That's so cool!’”

When a small airplane flew overhead one day during a kayaking trip, the idea for the show came to her.

“I was nowhere near an airport,” Vernot said. “But I was, and always have been, fascinated with these airplanes – where they are going, who is flying them.” That day, she decided to look into the possibility of a television show that tells these stories.  Her search for a production company led her to Joel Westbrook at Interface Media Group. “Joel got it immediately,” Vernot said. The rest is history. “The concept and business model are so strong, and people have had a great reaction to it.”

Vernot hopes to create a lasting business model with the addition of an online community and content creation. “Aviation comes in small pockets. There’s very little cross-pollination,” Vernot said. “We want our website to serve as a common place for pilots to go and find out where to eat. We want to establish a community.” 

Air Fare America is currently in the casting phase, with production expected to begin with a few months. From there, Vernot and Westbrook will be shopping food and travel networks for a spot on TV.

When asked what made him buy into Vernot’s idea for Air Fare America, Westbrook said, “Andrea has an incredible amount of passion, so I knew she would be great to work with. Other than that, I look for an interesting location, great characters and great stories. Air Fare America has all of these. And I like small airplanes.”

Although neither Vernot nor Westbrook intentionally set out to help the general aviation industry, the positive attention won't hurt. Vernot says she’s seen the camaraderie of the industry firsthand, and is happy to be part of it. “Immediately I found that everyone was welcoming and helpful and open. Am I an evangelist for general aviation? No. Am I glad that it might help the aviation industry? Yes.”

For more information on casting for Air Fare America, or to submit an application, visit airfareamerica.com