“I started to fall in love with our industry again and thought, ‘I can do this myself. I have some skills and contacts.’ And so that’s how the idea of starting my own charter brokerage got going,” remembers Brunson-Pitts. “I wanted to be very customer-focused and customer- centric, and always with integrity. I knew that that would be my hallmark: just focus on the customer and always be honest.”
Brunson-Pitts says the private charter brokerage industry has “gotten a bit of a bad rap” due to lack of regulation, so he wanted to build Advanced Aviation Team based on reputation and referrals. And after flying around the world with the White House for more than four years, he had plenty. Most of the company’s bookings are on a contract basis, and when customers inquire with very specific needs, that’s where Brunson-Pitts and his team make their mark. “I think we really excel at complicated problems given my background,” says Brunson-Pitts.
That’s not to say Advanced Aviation Team doesn’t do its share of New York to Florida charters, but even familiar routes can require detailed planning to utilize a smaller airport, client-specific needs regarding luggage and pets, and the expected wow-factor that comes with celebrating a milestone birthday, anniversary, or other special occasions.
Typically, a customer will reach out to Advanced Aviation Team with a trip request, after which they’ll take those specifics and research the market for available aircraft through their network of operators. “We’ll check all the needed boxes and then send you options,” says Brunson-Pitts. “We’ll then negotiate the terms of the pricing and see you from the beginning to the end of a trip logistically. Not all brokers do that.” Needs play an essential role in aircraft selection. A group of four dashing off to the Bahamas for the weekend requires a different jet than a party of 12 headed to Telluride for Gay Ski Week, equipment in tow.
Brunson-Pitt’s reputation helped him land a particularly high-profile client last year, make that two: then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and fellow nominee Kamala Harris. The months-long campaign required a trusted aviation partner who could manage an exhaustive attention to detail. Advanced Aviation Team became the campaign’s primary provider, which included a dedicated charter (a painted and decaled 737), great for photo opps, but also appropriately outfitted for up to 40 campaigners and security. Harris had her own itineraries and rarely did the two overlap. She’d often be transported on a Gulfstream V, a long-range business jet, with support staff and secret service flying separately. While thoughtful catering ensured that both candidates and staff remained energized, Brunson-Pitt says mobile phone chargers in every seat became one of the most valued perks for fast-paced days and long hours. Collectively, Advanced Aviation Team completed more than 1,130 flights for the Biden-Harris campaign.
While Advanced Aviation Team’s typical customer these days may not be two of the world’s most renowned political figures, they’re still treated to the same level of service, which isn’t just about the aircraft, but who’s also operating it. The company sources some of the charter industry’s most well-respected pilots and flight attendants to ensure that each trip is safe, smooth, and seamless.
For those traveling with an extended entourage and deep pockets, the Gulfstream G650 and G650ER are some of the most coveted business jets in the industry, with a range of up to 6,500 nautical miles (and the record for the farthest and fastest flight in business aviation history). In addition, interiors can feature up to four separate living spaces and 16 panoramic oval windows.