If you are reading this e-mail it’s because you have expressed an interest in my JetHiking project, an adventure that began in July 2012 and is winding down (for now). I may have met you at an airport or coffee shop, or perhaps I hitched a flight with you or stayed on your couch. You might have handed me your business card and given me some pointers or directions, connected me with a helpful friend, followed me along on social media, or just thought JetHiking was a cool idea. The fact is: you are a part of my journey to hitchhike on general aviation aircraft to 50 states and without the help of thousands of people like you, this project wouldn’t be where it is today. I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement and support.
It all started when a bored travel professional wanted to see the country from a unique perspective. With guidance and encouragement from a private pilot, a dream took flight. My goal was to experience the United States on a shoestring budget while helping to promote general aviation by “hitching” flights across America, but it became so much more. I’ve met countless friends who have taught me about aviation, the community, our country, and myself.
As of writing this, I have been on 77 flights with general aviation pilots who want to share their passion for flying, a true freedom that – like so many others – is worth preserving no matter what challenges lie ahead. If it has been awhile since you’ve been keeping up on my progress: no worries! I still have nine states to go; Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and the most challenging state: Hawaii. If there is one thing I have learned from this trip is that with enough help, anything is possible.
I’ve slept at numerous airports and grass strips, flown on experimental aircraft, seaplanes, private jets, and hang gliders. I have visited summer festivals, hiked up a few mountains, been lost many times, camped in thunderstorms, and slept on more than 150 couches (or living room floors) with new friends I had just met. Despite what we hear in the news, I am convinced that the number of wonderful people in this world outnumber the few that make us fear each other, as evident by the kindness of strangers who have helped me along.
I’ve run out of money three times and in order to continue on my quest, I’ve found jobs at hostels, waiting tables, working as a deckhand on a sailboat, passing out flyers for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and bartending. I’ve been attempting to keep up a travel blog (which is always a few stops behind), but it only scratches the surface on what I have encountered. We are 50 United States, and yet each state has a culture of its own that has so much to offer.
What’s next after I finish? I’ll be heading back to Fort Lauderdale to finish my book and start taking flying lessons. I won’t stick around for too long before my next adventure but while I am in Florida, there will be an open couch for anyone traveling through and a writer willing to show you around her city.
Until then, I hope you will continue to travel with me as I hitchhike from Spearfish, South Dakota to the remaining nine states. The most frequent updates can be found on Facebook and Twitter, as well as my home page on JetHiking.com. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take JetHiking global. After all, “Dreams can take you far if you’re willing to fly.”
Blue skies and happy travels,