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August 20, 2012

Air Fare America: From Selling the Free State to Launching a New Adventure

by Andrea Vernot

Beautifully restored warbird inside “Spitfire” hangar

The following post provides brief background on the project that precipitated my departure from Maryland’s business agency in June and formally hands over Selling the Free State to my successor, Linda Yurche.

After five plus years marketing Maryland as a great state to live, work and play, I left the Department of Business & Economic Development to channel my enthusiasm for small airfields, airport restaurants and aviation destinations into a new career adventure.

Air Fare America is a multi-media travel and TV production I created and am currently developing with IMG. The program celebrates the restaurants, destinations and ‘hidden hangar’ treasures tucked into thousands of small “general aviation” (GA) airports across the U.S.

A non-aviator (hence Armchair Aviatrix), I discovered these dining destinations in the 90’s. Over the years, I  enjoyed many wonderful meals at Kay’s, Nicks and Sugar Buns at airports in Cambridge, Hagerstown and Easton, but also discovered many more at small and regional airports across the country. I wanted to share my affinity for their diverse (and delicious!) offerings and envisioned Air Fare as a travel / dining guide and celebration of  America’s rich aviation heritage.

Combining flying, dining and storytelling, I hoped Air Fare would appeal to a broad audience: Aviators, history buffs, foodies and travel enthusiasts. I alternately describe its premise as “Eat. Experience. Explore.” or “Fly. Find. Feast.”

I started work in June 2011 after an ‘aha’ moment and spent early mornings, late evenings and most weekends researching, writing and developing it into a viable television production. Engaging an entertainment lawyer to navigate the IP landscape, I registered the concept, filed trademarks, enlisted a designer and formally founded Armchair Aviatrix, LLC.

As Air Fare gained momentum, I decided to dedicate myself full-time to its successful launch.  While I still keep involved with select marketing projects, I’ve focused the past few months on securing a production partner, developing content and creating promotional platforms.

In July, I entered into a development agreement with Interface Media Group, a respected and experienced production company.  Working with Joel Westbrook, Air Fare’s Executive Producer, we are currently casting for a three-host (pilot, chef and gear head) format and plan to identify prospective talent in the coming weeks.

In whatever form Air Fare eventually takes, getting it to this stage – and hopefully off the ground – has been an amazing journey. I greatly appreciate the ideas, insight and assistance so many people shared along the way.

If you’re interested in learning more about Air Fare, please plan to pick up the October Maryland Life magazine featuring an article on the Free State’s aviation attractions. You can also follow me on Twitter @AirFareAmerica. I welcome all suggestions and gladly entertain any questions.

Look for news, ideas and observations on Maryland and marketing from hereon on by Linda as she works her magic selling the free state!

Image

Dan Patrell, Maryland Life Publisher & Andrea Vernot at the Easton Airport

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