“Jet-Hiking”: Adventurous, but is it safe?

The other day I read an article on CNN entitled, “10 things the U.S. does better than anywhere else.” Two items on the list: national parks and road trips. I think after what you’re about to read, though, you’ll find that trips don’t have to be limited to the road.


Logo for Amber Nolan’s website. I like the Fonz-inspired thumbs-up. Aaaaaviation (Sorry, bad pilot puns are a staple around these parts).

I recently came across a Yahoo article on the subject of what some are calling “jet-hiking.” I know, I know, it’s a Yahoo article (hey, they can sometimes publish good reads that don’t make you want to skip right to the comments). Before you throw your empty oil cans at me, I just want to discuss it for a second.

First, “jet-hiking” is a misnomer. Amber Nolan, the young woman behind this aerial escapade, is flying pretty much exclusively in General Aviation (GA) aircraft. Last time I checked, GA does not equate to jet propulsion. Perhaps ‘jet’ is more sexy in Internet speak or perhaps when she launched her website promoting it, GA-hiking.com was already a taken domain name. Regardless, the concept of hiking across the country only by plane got my attention.

The Yahoo piece is a flash article, giving you an overview of Amber Nolan’s “No-land” transportational journey. She plans on traveling through the skyways to all 50 states. I found a clip of Miss Nolan being interviewed at EAA’s AirVenture 2013:

It seems like a bizarre idea for someone to just say “You know, what? I woke up this morning and want to fly across the country with strangers.” That type of care-free attitude is indicative of someone with an affinity for tree-hugging. And bark has bite.

Why is she doing this? If you did a fly-by evaluation you would think this attempt is purely nonsensical.

But then you find out she is a travel writer who plans to develop a book based on her experiences. Writers, or those familiar with their situation, know that you have to often go on adventures so that you have enough material to develop an engaging story. Do something out of the ordinary or unusual and the chances of your story being published become more than just thoughts in the clouds.

Still, it’s no giant revelation that it’s dangerous to hitch-hike—no matter what the incentive. This isn’t our grandfather’s America and it isn’t modern-day Canada. We don’t leave our doors unlocked anymore. And if we can’t even trust our neighbors, why would we trust strangers? All I’m saying is that I’m concerned for her safety, as any half-way decent pilot should be. I hope she doesn’t get lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere. Maybe she should consider carrying the SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Tracker and Messenger.

But Nolan has been courageous enough to face the wind head-on. And the GA community has helped her meet most of her goal. The above video said she had traveled to 36 or 37 states; the Yahoo article (posted September 21, 2013) currently has her at 42 states. Only eight states left, including Alaska and Hawaii. The latter state might pose a problem for her since GA aircraft might not have what it takes to cross the Pacific. However, we shall see.

Her journey is probably not ground-breaking. But if you ask me it is certainly uplifting. It is refreshing to see something like this.

I perused Nolan’s website. This self-proclaimed “JetHiking Gypsy” has set up links to several non-profit organizations that work within and/or through the aviation community including Dreams of Flight (outlet to inspire young women to fly); Operation Prop (Wounded Warrior and disability-based organization); and Angel Flights (volunteer pilots for humanitarian efforts). There are fewer things more important during an adventure than spreading the word and cultivating charitable action during the process.

No matter the result, no matter the criticism by those who do not understand, on behalf of SkyGeek, I salute Amber Nolan for showing the general public the generous side of the GA community.

This entry was posted in Emergency & Safety, News by Mack
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About Mack

Hey, there! This is Mack speaking (although Skylar likes to joke around and call me Mach). I will be your pilot for this evening or any time really. Seriously though, I've flown all around this round ball of land and sea they call the world and know what it takes to have a safe flight. If there's one thing I've learned in the cockpit it's that communication is key. Let me talk to you and share any insight I can provide so you can take off or land when and where you want. Roger that?