By Barb Arland-Fye
Jim Orr’s passion for flying and an interest in developing a business to benefit retirees needing additional income led to the creation of a Web-based company called U.S. GAITS.
The business — its acronym stands for U.S. General Aviation Information & Travel Services — provides information at www.usgaits.org about topics of interest to private and corporate flyers, such as fuel prices, airplanes and parts for sale, de-icing capabilities at airports and flying club meetings.
Orr, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport and retiree from Deere & Co., launched U.S. GAITS last year with some of his retired colleagues, family members and friends. Now he’s recruiting additional retirees in the Diocese of Davenport interested in keeping their minds sharp and who hopefully will earn income in the venture. And they can work at home at their own computers.
Retirees are needed to help make phone calls or e-mail inquiries to Fixed Base Operations (FBOs) around the country, querying them about fuel costs and other aviation-related items. They’ll collect the information and e-mail it to the U.S. GAITS team, which then posts the information on the Web site.
“I fly, and when I flew to various airports I discovered that prices for fuel varied dramatically,” Orr said. Some are “mom and pop” operations holding on by the skin of their teeth in a still-fragile economy. He’s hoping that publishing information about these FBOs will benefit them as well as U.S. GAITS workers.
The service is free to the FBOs; the U.S. GAITS team hopes to generate revenue by selling advertising. Even though the aviation industry is going through the worst depression in 60 years, this is the time to start a venture that Orr hopes will be flying high when the economy rebounds.
Mary Field, a fellow parishioner of Orr’s and former Deere & Co. colleague is a principal of U.S. GAITS who finds the work she does for the company stimulating. Working out of her home and setting her own hours is definitely appealing, she said, but so is the learning opportunity. “This is the right fit. I can work at home and still volunteer at St. Anthony’s.” Her analytical skills have been put to good use as she has helped U.S. GAITS expand the breadth of its survey of FBOs and enhanced its Web site and offerings, Orr said.
U.S. GAITS will meet with people interested in the venture, show them the Web site and provide details about the work involved. The company isn’t sure how many people it needs at this point, but hopes to make contact with FBOs in all 50 states, Orr said.
“During this launch phase, people’s involvement would be voluntary and without pay. This venture should begin to show results in 18 to 24 months,” he added. Whatever profit the company achieves will be shared equally. “What we’re trying to give (retirees) is camaraderie, a sense of worth and hopefully an income.”
Kent Ferris, social action director for the Davenport Diocese, said he is impressed with Orr’s proposal and sees it as a worthwhile program because of its potential to provide flexible jobs for people who may be homebound and in financial need.