Hitchhiking, Meet Jet-Hiking — Hitchhiking via Private Planes

Brother, can you spare a seat in your private aircraft?

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Amber Nolan taking her first biplane ride.

29-year-old Amber Nolan wanted to see all 50 U.S. states without spending a dime on transportation, so she opted to hitchhike, kind of like the old Peter, Paul and Mary song, “Take me for a ride in your car car,” only the rides in Nolan’s novel undertaking soar thousands of feet above the earth.

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Call it jet-hiking, because Nolan does — she evens styles herself the “JetHiking Gypsy” — though judging from the multifarious photos on her travel blog, jethiking.com, she’s as amenable to prop planes as those with turbines. She’s been working nonstop since July 2012, depending on the goodwill of friendly pilots, to check all 50 states off her bucket list. According to her site, she’s 42 down (including visits to some 250 towns and cities), with the end nearly in sight.

“As a travel writer, I’ve been all over the world but I hadn’t seen much in my own backyard. I wanted to experience the United States in a unique way and started brainstorming ideas,” Nolan told the Daily Mail in a recent interview. It’s also been a kind of proof-of-concept for Nolan, who writes she wanted, “[to] see if it is possible to travel the country (all 50 states) by ‘hitching’ rides with pilots” on her blog.

That, and Nolan writes she wanted to “[increase] public awareness of the smaller sections of the air industry and combat common misconceptions, therefore encouraging more people to become involved,” to interview locals and highlight little-known attractions, cities and towns, to illustrate how to travel (by plane, no less) on a budget and assuming all goes well (which it seems to be), she hopes to expand the undertaking to international venues.

No surprise, it’s not as simple as strolling down to the local airport, sticking out your thumb and waiting for a plane to pull over. Nolan, who indicates on September 12 that she’s currently in Seattle, Washington trying to hop a flight to Alaska, says she sometimes has to wait days to find a pilot heading in the direction she is.

Once she’s checked off those final eight states? “I would like to get my pilot’s license first and take some time to plan and save money for such an undertaking,” she told Daily Mail.

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