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Soaring CEO sets sights on a new world record

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By Christina Couch


Scott Kasprowicz is the first to admit that he likes to break things … specifically speed records. The founder and former CEO of Texel Corp., a Reston-based communication design and installation firm he sold in 1999, is semi-retired now.  So, the executive spends his days dabbling in real estate and piloting his personal helicopter, a twin-engine AgustaWestland 109 Grand.

“It was actually the first one in the U.S., and I believe it’s the fastest civilian helicopter in existence,” says Kasprowicz.  “Having that, I have the opportunity to do some record-breaking things, so why not take it?”

In February, you could say he rose to the occasion when he broke the New York-Los Angeles transcontinental rotorcraft speed record by more than four hours, clocking in at just over 15 hours of flight time.  Kasprowicz hopes to break records again in July by taking his chopper around the globe in two weeks, beating the current around-the-world flight record by three days. 

“It’s something that clearly carries risk, but the risks will be offset by our preparation,” Kasprowicz says about the upcoming trip.  “Physically we [Kasprowicz along with friend and co-pilot Steve Sheik] are going through conditioning that will help us deal with the extended periods of immobility. We’ll be sitting in the cockpit up to 14 hours [a day] with little to no movement.  It’s a lot of cramped quarters, very much like an astronaut would be subjected to.”

At this stage in his life, the 54-year-old pilot is used to the physical and mental challenges that come with flying.  He has operated fixed-wing planes since his teenage years. Becoming a pilot, notes Kasprowicz, trained him well for becoming an executive.

“In business, the constant changes in direction require good contingency planning and the ability to think on your feet.  That applies to aviation as well,” he says.  “In both aviation and business, you come up with a plan, knowing that it might fail, and you have to be able to change those plans to eeffectively complete the mission.”

The business

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA), general aviation — including all nonmilitary, noncommercial passenger flights — is a $20 billion per year industry that accounts for 77 percent of all flights in the United States.  Although there are no statistics on how much the private helicopter industry economically impacts Virginia, the AOPA reports that there are 9,159 rotorcraft aircraft in the state and nearly 5,000 private pilots licensed to fly them.

Places to fly

Ready to spread your wings?  There are plenty of places in Virginia to do it.  Whether you’re new to the cockpit or a seasoned veteran, these flight schools are the first step to getting your chopper license.
• American Helicopters Inc. in Manassas – (703) 368-9599, http://www.americanheli.com
• Chesapeake Bay Helicopters Flight School and Commercial Services in Chesapeake – (757) 465-9936, http://www.cbhelos.com
• JAVaviation in Leesburg – (703) 466-0188, http://javaviation.com
• Charlottesville Flight Center in Charlottesville – (434) 964-1474, http://www.flycfc.net

For more information on helicopter safety and training in Virginia, contact the Virginia Helicopter Association at (757) 342-6899 or http://vahelicopters.com/. 

Events
Helicopter enthusiasts can get their kicks this summer at air shows all along the East Coast.  June 10-11: Ocean City, Md., hosts the annual Ocean City Air Show featuring civilian and military helicopter teams. Aug. 20:  The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa presents the “Thunder Over the Boardwalk” Atlantic City Air Show in Atlantic City, N.J.
Sept. 19-21: The Oceana Air Show is held in Virginia Beach. 


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