Gregg Brunson-Pitts, who has worked for the White House Travel Office, and Advanced Aviation Team provide perks both practical and posh for those looking to elevate their flight experience.
From Frank Sinatra’s 1958 release of Come Fly With Me to HBO’s recent breakout hit, The Flight Attendant, our fascination with flying has long been embedded in nearly every aspect of our culture. Even the TWA Flight Center at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport received a soaring restoration and reimagining a few years back, turning the long-abandoned structure into a retro hotel. But how we get from here to there can vary significantly in the aviation industry. For those looking to customize travel plans, elevate their in-flight experience, and avoid crowds at commercial airports, an on-demand private jet charter like those offered by Advanced Aviation Team provide perks both practical and posh.
The company’s founder and CEO, Gregg Brunson-Pitts, brings decades of industry experience to the company, including a fascinating stint as director of the White House travel office and some prominent previous guests. Though interested in aviation as a child, Brunson-Pitts “stumbled” into the industry through politics, first traveling the world to coordinate special events. “I loved it, you know, really, the fast pace of it, just visiting other places and being exposed to different cultures and different people,” says Brunson-Pitts.
Brunson-Pitts then received an offer to work in the White House’s travel office, focusing on logistics for the White House press corps and moving the aircraft in tandem with Air Force One, saying, “that was where I sort of cut my teeth into aviation and aircraft logistics.”
Though circumstances change with each president, and certainly in a post-COVID travel environment, a charter flew with the president on nearly every trip during Brunson-Pitts’ tenure, including up to 60 journalists for domestic travel and 150 passengers (including secret service and additional staff) for international trips. Overseas itineraries were months in the making and involved procuring hotel rooms and meeting spaces, as well as determining live-shot locales for reporters and managing budgets for major networks and publications. “Yeah, it was intense,” reflects Brunson-Pitts. “It averaged out over the years to be about a $20 to $25 million per year travel operation.”
If you’re wondering if life on a press corps aircraft is like an episode of VEEP, Brunson- Pitts says the daily news cycle determined the onboard environment. Journalists could be deep in their laptops to file a story, or if it was the tail end of a trip or a light news day, more convivial. He was also tasked with the seating chart, and unlike a commercial airline where you hope your frequent flier status gets you an upgrade, the networks and news wires were assigned on rotation to snag that coveted and comfortable firstclass or business seats.
Brunson-Pitts says the end of his White House years “was a bit of a hard landing. The last year was super-intense, and I was really loving what I was doing. And then, all of a sudden, the end came and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally. It was really the only thing I had been doing since I graduated college,” he says.
Brunson-Pitts had worked extensively with private jet charter companies as a client on behalf of the White House, so he flipped the script and took a consulting position with a large charter company, then considered moving into public relations and even opening a cycling studio, having taught spinning. The entrepreneurial bug bit, and those early memories of his fascination with aviation returned.