4th December 2017
The Flight of the Falcon
Vertis Aviation joined Socrates Projects on board the travel company’s Falcon 900X EASy, as it soared around the world on a unique journey, that even Philleas Fogg would have struggled to match. 14 locations - from the Middle East, to Asia, to Oceania, and beyond - 42 days, 60 hours of flying, and a whole lot of fun, created the perfect family adventure. Mathieu Liebaert, customer experience and marketing director for Socrates Projects, talks about the unique escapade.
Mathieu Liebaert, Socrates Projects
My father believes life is short and we should live it to the full. His great passions include his family, travel, and flying. We had flown around Canada and the USA in a CJ3, but he constantly dreams of the next big tour, the next great adventure, and the next aircraft. Last November he purchased the Falcon, and put together a travel fund. His strategy? To maximise our time, the budget, the aircraft, and a wonderful opportunity for Socrates Projects.
We are a luxury travel company that arranges incredible adventures for a league of extraordinary travellers. We say that every Socrates trip is distilled from the best of our own experiences, hence the global tour. We can now devise, create and develop truly unique voyages for our clients because we know how to provide this special, exclusive experience on board our amazing jet, or one from Vertis’ portfolio of beautiful aircraft. We are collaborating with Vertis as their quality of jets reflects ours. The company’s ethos, its boutique approach, the focus on client satisfaction, and the team’s commitment to always go one step further, matches the Socrates Projects philosophy.
My father wanted an aircraft that would reliably fulfil the dream of flying his family around the world. The Falcon is the perfect plane to do this as it linked the destinations we dreamed of seeing, within our timeframe. In terms of operating costs, combined with performance for ultra-long range jets, the Falcon is leagues ahead. We had supreme confidence in it, without it, the journey would have been impossible to complete within our parameters.
We’ve visited many countries, but there were still exotic, remote and mysterious locations that peaked our curiosity. Iran, Cambodia, the Solomon Islands, to name a few. To some extent it was a reconnaissance trip for Socrates Projects. Now we have experienced these places, we understand the wonders each destination has to offer.
To be honest there were no real problems. The logistics of fuel, customs, runway length, alternate runways, airport hours, in some of the more remote places, like the Solomon Islands, all needed consideration. Paperwork wise Iran was probably the most challenging in terms of sourcing a landing permit. Four days before departure we were still waiting. However, the ground handlers in Isfahan took care of it, and when we entered Iranian airspace we were greeted with “Welcome to Iran”. ATC were so intrigued that a Belgian family were flying their own aircraft into Iran. It’s those little things that make the difference on a trip like this.
The longest leg?
We had to really plan well for the longest leg from Siem Riep to the Solomon Islands. Strong head winds, a jet full of fuel, heavy luggage, six passengers, and a flight of 9.5 hours, with the alternate airport a further hour away, made planning interesting. The alternate airport was only open during the day to add to the complexity. That’s the joy of flying, and we made it in just fine.
It was the luxurious choice of deciding where we wanted to go and then joining the dots. We were curious about Iran, intrigued by Cambodia and we really wanted to visit New Zealand. The Solomon Islands were en-route, and fascinating. Tahiti was exotic, and Cody awe inspiring.
At the maximum load, we had ten people on board. The pilots, of which my father was one, our family and friends. One of which is an ex-Michelin star chef. The deal was that if he came he would cook. He was more than happy with the arrangement, and prepared everything to bring on the flight. The galley has an oven, microwave, coffee making machines and is well equipped. He had great fun, and so did we.
Well, we have a plane that is perfectly configured for this type of leisure travel as it is capacious and extremely comfortable. Seating consists of two sets of four, but without the tables, so it feels like a luxurious lounge. Following our adventure, we are offering a similar opportunity to our clients. With our exclusive Falcon, we offer a personal, deluxe experience, like no other. Customers just need to ask, and we will arrange the journey that fulfils their vision, and exceeds their expectations.
Sailing a catamaran out of Tahiti.