Fly the Whale completes first flight from Tallahassee to Treasure Coast International Airport

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The St. Lucie County Commission is a bipartisan, five-member board is responsible for setting county policy. KEONA GARDNER/TCPALM
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ST. LUCIE COUNTY —  There was no in-flight movie or dinner, but the passengers on board the first commercial flight in decades to land at the Fort Pierce airport gave the trip two thumbs up.

Fly the Whale, a New York-based commuter airline, made history about 6 p.m. Friday when it landed at Treasure Coast International Airport after taking off at 4:15 p.m. from Tallahassee International Airport.

The eight-passenger Cessna Caravan carried six passengers: state Reps. Larry Lee Jr, D-Port St. Lucie, Mary Lynn Magar, R-Tequesta, Matt Willhite, D- Royal Palm Beach, and Katie Edwards-Walpole, D-Sunrise; Kurt Holden, airline director of operations; and marketing executive Trish Hickey Jones.

“The flight was great and smooth, especially when considering the weather,” Magar said. “It is great to be able to do this. I can get home early enough and have dinner with my family.”

During the flight, Holden pointed out the sights, such as Disney World and various lakes in Central Florida.

“It was a super experience,” Lee said. “The flight was better than I expected. I had never been on a small plane before.”

Previously: Airline service returns to Fort Pierce with new flights to Tallahassee

Fort Pierce-to-Tallahassee flights on Fly the Whale airline ready to debut

Magar said she used the hour-and-40-minute flight to read over legislative bills.

“When I had to drive from Tallahassee to home, I couldn’t get any work done,” Magar said.  

In Tallahassee, Lee acted as airline spokesman by spreading the word to legislators who needed a quick, last-minute flight home. Willhite and Edwards-Walpole were sold on his pitch, booked flights and had rides waiting for them when they arrived.

The inaugural flight was to be Monday — the start of the legislative session — but was rescheduled for Thursday, when airline officials learned legislators drove their belongings to Tallahassee.

The change to a southbound flight Friday was made late Wednesday when officials learned the Legislature would stay in session an extra day, Holden said.

Though Friday’s flight was mostly legislators, Holden said the public has made inquiries.

A round-trip ticket cost $650.86.

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Regularly scheduled flights to Tallahassee will be 8 a.m. Mondays with a 4 p.m. return to Fort Pierce, and 3 p.m. Thursdays with a 5:30 p.m. return, according to Fly the Whale’s website.

Fly the Whale is subleasing a 10,000-square-foot hangar at the airport.

The county plans to use the success of the airline to entice other aviation companies to the airport, said Peter Jones, county business navigator, whose wife, Hickey Jones, was on the flight.

“It is the perfect size of air service to get things started for us,” Jones said. “We can grow together.”

Treasure Coast International Airport Business Park, northwest of downtown Fort Pierce, sits on more than 3,600 acres and has 130 tenants, including 50 operating businesses and 80 individuals or businesses that rent hangars to store personal aircraft.

Tickets can be booked at www.flythewhale.com or by calling 212-221-1203.

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Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/growth/2018/01/12/fly-whale-completes-first-flight-tallahassee-treasure-coast-international-airport/996181001/

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