Laura Thorburn-Gundlach is on a mission to help others reach new heights – one flight at a time.
She and her husband David are the owners of the Jasper-based flight school Get Inspired Flight.
The company offers a variety of services, from 20-minute discovery flights to training for a sport pilot certificate.
Their operation is small – they boast the smallest hangar at the Pickens County Airport – but steadily growing. While other flight schools cater to those seeking a commercial license, Get Inspired Flight focuses on the hobbyists and beginners.
And that’s the way Laura likes it.
“We want to share aviation with people and inspire them to get in the air,” Laura said. “It is so crazy-fun. It’s a privilege to be up there.”
Laura grew up near an airport in Carrollton, Ga. Despite an early love of airplanes, she said it never occurred to her that she could be a pilot.
In 2008, David and Laura encouraged each other to earn their private pilot’s licenses. While David worked his IT day job, Laura went on to earn commercial and instructor licenses, and eventually founded Get Inspired Flight. Last year, David joined the company full-time.
As co-owners of Get Inspired Flight, Laura and David wear many hats: instructor, video editor, promotor, receptionist, mechanic. Luckily, they work well as a team.
David said their skills complement each other perfectly, with Laura often acting as the visionary and David as the “do-er.”
When people hear they run a flight school, most assume Laura and David are crazy thrill-seekers, she said. While they do share a love for motorcycles and scuba diving as well as flying, she doesn’t consider them to be daredevils.
“Flying is safer than driving,” she said. “Up there, someone close to you is one mile away. Then you land and get in the car and there are other people going 60 miles per hour the opposite direction only three feet away.”
At altitude if something goes wrong, you have minutes to figure out what you want to do, she added. Driving, you may have less than a second.
David and Laura have found that students who are nervous about flying often feel much better once they sit through the ground class and understand how everything works.
The sport pilot certificates that Get Inspired Flight offers require less training than a private license. The certificate comes with limitations, such as being unable to fly at night.
Pilots interested in going further can use the sport license as a steppingstone, or they can enjoy the license for what it is.
“If you just want to be up in the air for the fun and the challenge of it, sport is for you,” Laura said.
The company offers deals through Groupon and Airbnb, and the flights are frequently given as birthday, anniversary, graduation and retirement gifts.
Often, their clientele includes older pilots looking to brush up on their skills or to learn to fly a tailwheel aircraft, like the 2016 SkyReach BushCat used by Get Inspired Flight. But Laura and David love taking up first-time flyers.
“There are people who will never be pilots,” David said. “Medical reasons, budget reasons, they don’t have the time; but you can still come fly with us.”
Laura especially wants to encourage more women to take up aviation.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s girlfriends buying a gift for their boyfriends, wives buying a gift for their husbands, or daughters for their fathers,” Laura said. “It’s rarely the other way around … so I would love to encourage women to fly and to encourage men to encourage their women.”
To book flights or for more information, visit getinspiredflight.com.