SARASOTA — Manatee's former county administrator Dr. Scott Hopes has landed a new gig with private aviation club AeroVanti. The club announced last week that Hopes had been named the company's newest CEO.
According to a company press release
, Hopes brings "extensive executive leadership in aviation, aerospace, healthcare, IT, education, and government sectors" into his new role.
The announcement—which included a photo of Hopes that appeared to be from his time as county administrator—also stated that Hopes has been a pilot "since 1989 with more than 3,500 hours as a pilot in command" and "holds an FAA Airline Transport Pilot certificate with Citation and Hawker jet type ratings."
Earlier this year, AeroVanti announced it had landed exclusive sponsorship deals with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Cubs, Spire Motorsports and United States Sailing.
The sponsorships followed a company announcement roughly a year after getting off the ground, that it had landed a $100 million investment
toward the expansion of its fleet.
AeroVanti’s press releases consistently state the club’s revenue growth at 400 percent.
However, in May of this year, some former "Top Gun" members of the aviation club filed suit against the private jet club in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, alleging AeroVanti did not provide the services it promised its members.
According to a report by Private Jet Card Comparisons
, an online buyer’s guide to private aviation clubs and services, AeroVanti has been plagued by complaints about cancellations and poor service since its start.
A quick internet search for "AeroVanti" returned only three Google reviews, all one-star ratings with comments to match.
A lawyer representing former clients of AeroVanti, Ryan C. Wagner of WLG Firm in Ft. Lauderdale, told Private Jet Card Comparisons
, "Based on the information and documentation that was discovered, and continues to be discovered, the activities and misappropriation of funds related to AeroVanti’s Top Gun Membership, are hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme."
The lawsuit names several company affiliates and representatives, including AeroVanti’s former Chief of Operations Robert De Pol. De Pol parted ways with the private jet club in February 2023, after having served as AeroVanti’s COO since Oct. 2021.
The FAA has also reportedly sent letters to AeroVanti club members seeking information about their experiences with the company. Doug Gollan, editor of Private Jet Card Comparisons, published a copy of one such FAA email provided by a club member.
Dated April of this year, the email appears to show the FAA questioning registered members of the private jet club whether they feel flights by AeroVanti are operated according to safety regulations for passenger carriers for hire.
Dr. Hopes joins AeroVanti just five months after a reported forced resignation
from his role as Manatee County Administrator. Less than a month after leaving the position, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it had opened an investigation into allegations
that Hopes may have illegally destroyed public records on his departure from the county.
On May 30, a spokesperson for MCSO responded to our inquiry about the status of the investigation. In an email, the spokesperson told TBT that the investigation involving Hopes was still active and no other details could be made available. The spokesperson advised it would update our publication when the investigation’s status changed.
To date, TBT has not received any additional updates.
was launched in July 2021 by Patrick Britton-Harr, founder and chairman of the private flight chartering business. The aviation club, which is headquartered in both Sarasota and Annapolis, Maryland, is built on a tiered membership model which promises new signups that it can exceed the standard of what competitors are offering at less than 50 percent of the price.