His Tampa air ambulance enterprise normally takes him all-around the globe, again and once again

TAMPA — Two times after Xmas, Mike Honeycutt was headed to his Westshore places of work when he received the get in touch with: An American vacationer experienced a coronary heart assault in Jamaica and needed to get property.

So Honeycutt, CEO of the air ambulance and healthcare evacuation company Jet ICU and a pilot himself, flew with his healthcare workforce to bring the person back — all in all, a pretty typical Tuesday.

Honeycutt, 53, is from small town North Carolina where by planes dusted crops and armed forces jets from the nearby base flew overhead. He’s married to Becky, lives in Palm Harbor, just grew to become a grandpa and, oh yeah, has circled the world several occasions. He prefers a pilot’s seat to an office environment chair.

The family company he operates with his father, Bill, is 7 planes and 10 pilots with dozens of clinical, transportation, communications and administrative staff. Down the hall at the office, his dad operates the side of the business that handles vacationers insurance policies for missionaries.

When you have viewed most of the 7 Miracles, there are plenty of stories — like the time at the height of the pandemic when an island nation was unwilling to enable a cruise ship passenger with COVID disembark there in purchase to board a Jet ICU airplane back to the U.S. “We ended up possessing to trade a ventilator,” Honeycutt mentioned, to make it happen.

A dialogue with Mike Honeycutt. This interview has been edited for size and clarity.

How early did you know you needed to fly?

In high faculty, my senior yr. I was seeking to determine what to do. My dad’s very best mate grew up as a crop duster and (became an airline) pilot. He informed me about his task, worked 15 days a thirty day period, traveled all in excess of the world.

Then I went out and took my very first intro flight, and I was hooked. I preferred to see the globe.

How did the Jet ICU small business evolve?

I flew freight for a while. That led me into flying three of the NASCAR teams around.

I started out flying for a little air ambulance … They would go anywhere in the environment at a moment’s detect. I cherished it, being from a smaller city. In 6 months, I’d been in four, probably five continents. You get to see some things. But it’s not a family vacation by any means.

I have witnessed the Good Wall from the air. That is fairly nice.

I got hired with a little airline, Halfway, and missed what I (had been) performing. A good deal of men and women like the timetable, and for me, coming from acquiring a contact, pack your bags, you’re likely to Berlin, that was exciting. I skipped it.

(Right after 911, he took early furlough and went back to the air ambulance business. Soon after it folded, he made a decision in 2003 to start off his own.)

There is some thing to be said for becoming younger and bold. I have a pal in the insurance coverage business enterprise who states “It’s not not possible, it just takes for a longer time.”

Two days soon after Xmas, you ended up on the way to Jamaica and again. Is that last-minute scramble pretty common?

Which is what we focus in, any where in the environment, what we call very long-haul health-related transport. Ninety percent of our trips are urgent like that. We really don’t have a lot of planning associated. It is the nature of the business enterprise.

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Health care (team customers) will inform me: Time is tissue.

Did the affected person in Jamaica make it?

He did. They ended up optimistic he would make a excellent recovery.

What is the bulk of the business — sick or injured travellers on cruise ships? Situations like the Florida boy with the unusual mind-consuming amoeba you flew to Chicago for care? Travellers in international lands?

We do a great deal of perform with Canadians (who fly home to common overall health treatment.) We do a ton with cruise traces … all sorts of health-related emergencies. We do a good deal of perform with Johns Hopkins (All Children’s Hospital) with transporting preemies. We do a lot of children and anything in concerning.

On a journey out of Europe, we got a 94-yr-aged gentleman. 1 of my nurses asked him, “Well, you imagine you are likely to stop traveling now?” He reported, “What, am I heading to sit on my porch and hold out to die?”

It was eye-opening, lifestyle-modifying, to me. He’s right.

Mike Honeycutt inside one of his Jet ICU planes.

Mike Honeycutt within a person of his Jet ICU planes.
[ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]Do you abide by the patients immediately after your part is over?

We do. We get a large amount of comments (cards, notes, and in a new circumstance, a photo of a boy on the mend in a hospital bed immediately after an incident whilst snorkeling with his relatives in Turks and Caicos.) Our nurses acquire a relationship with the clients and the touring companions.

(After Honeycutt’s father heard about twin babies born prematurely in Utah that desired to get home to St. Petersburg, Jet ICU flew them.) Dad’s been to two birthday get-togethers (due to the fact). We’ve stayed shut with them.

This is a extremely fulfilling business enterprise.

News tales have famous scenarios in which Jet ICU transport was furnished for no cost — for occasion, when the spouse and children of a University of South Florida scholar injured in a car crash while visiting Cuba in 2015 could not afford to fly her dwelling. (Much more a short while ago the firm presented discounted transport for a 12-year-aged woman who was the only survivor when her family members was in a head-on wreck even though vacationing in Mexico in June.)

You know, we’re blessed. When we sense like we will need to jump in, we do. Tampa’s my smaller town now. You help your neighbors.

Chat about a case that sticks with you.

There is so several.

There was a girl I flew in ‘98. She was 18, terminally sick. She had bone marrow cancer. They brought her from Oslo for a new procedure they have been striving. It didn’t perform for her, so we have been having her home. (On that flight they experienced to divert, land, and wheel her by way of customs.) She was in a good deal of ache.

So we rolled her again out. I reported “I’m so sorry we experienced to cease.” She stated “No — thank you. You’re taking me home so I can die with my loved ones.”

How quite a few miles do you consider you’ve logged?

I’ve flown eastbound about the environment 3 situations. Westbound twice. From a pilot’s standpoint, not quite a few people do that. I have been blessed.

So, much more miles than I can recall.

It is a good day when you see the solar increase and set on the identical working day at 41,000 ft.

Is flying even now pleasurable?

It is. They say if you do anything you enjoy, you in no way get the job done a day in your everyday living.

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