A first of its kind luxury jet that lands on short runways and comes to a quick stop flew into Luray Caverns Airport — runway 3126 feet — last week from New York, and the Inn at Little Washington’s Annette Larkin was there to greet its test passengers and crew with chocolates and cookies.
“Since they had lunch catered on the plane, and they had to leave again so quickly, I brought dessert,” Larkin explained.
Why such interest in the world’s first Pilatus PC-24 jet, delivered only last month from Switzerland to the New Hampshire headquarters of PlaneSense, Inc., a leading fractional aircraft ownership program?
It turns out that PlaneSense President and CEO George Antoniadis is quite familiar with the renowned Inn at Little Washington — and its affluent customer base — and when treating a reporter from Elite Traveler magazine to experience the unique takeoffs and landings aboard the jet, the short runway at Luray was the chosen destination.
“It’s a neat option to get into an area that small,” PlaneSense marketing manager Tiffany Nelson tells the Rappahannock News from New Hampshire, pointing out that the eight-passenger jet with a 500-cubic foot cabin had test-flown the previous weekend to a remote island in the Bahamas.
The company says that with the PC-24’s superior landing and takeoff capabilities, its clients and their passengers can now fly to remote, short runways anywhere within the continental United States, Canada, and Caribbean.
All of which means the highly anticipated jet could whisk its passengers from whichever airport they choose to one of the smaller, less-hassle airports surrounding Rappahannock County, either for a weekend getaway or even a five-star dinner at the Inn.
Sound hard to believe? The jet landing in Luray last week remained on the tarmac for 10 minutes — long enough to swallow a cookie — before flying back to New York. The jet’s maximum cruise speed is 440 KTS at 30,000 feet.
“The PC-24 raises the bar in private jet travel,” said Antoniadis, who is anticipating six additional jets delivered to PlaneSense by the end of 2019.
Nelson told this newspaper that a Luray airport worker joked upon the jet’s arrival last week that he’s been trying for some time to get the runway in Page County lengthened, and the PC-24 won’t help his cause.
“The jet did not use the entire runway in Luray,” Nelson noted. “It’s like a car, it just stops.”