I’ve always been an energetic person of varied interests: horseback riding, fishing, golf, playing guitar, outdoor activities; you name it and I have probably tried it.
My aviation career began in a very unique way. After moving to Newport Beach, CA shortly after graduating from college, I found a job in freight sales. I really had no interest in the freight industry, but it allowed me to live in a great place.
In my spare time I played a lot of outdoor basketball at a neighborhood park. There I met a very interesting group of people; about my age, very fit, competitive, and all with very short hair. Turns out that all of them were Marine Corp officers and student F/A-18 pilots at nearby El Toro Marine Corp Air Station. I loved their competitive camaraderie and their passion for their career. Though I had absolutely zero aviation experience at the time, I instinctively knew this was what I wanted to do.
I joined the Navy at 23, earned my commission after completing Aviation Officer Candidate School and was off to Corpus Christi, TX for primary flight training. I progressed to the Advanced Strike Pipeline and two years later earned the coveted Navy Wings of Gold. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to fly the Navy’s most modern and advanced aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet. Ultimately, I served in the Navy for just over 14 years, including deployments all across the Western Pacific, graduating from the elite Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and a tour as a Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor, it was time to move on.
By 2001, I had a young family and had decided that it was time for a career that would allow me to spend more time at home. I left the Navy, moved to Utah (an outdoorsman’s version of heaven), and joined an FBO business with my best friend. The company had 5 locations, a very large flight school, charter operation and a 145 maintenance operation. I was very happy to continue my career in aviation on the civilian side of the industry.
A few years later, I happened to meet Dan Drohan during an airshow at which I was performing. Likely the biggest aviation junky I have ever met, Dan found himself interested in our show and our story. He was also interested in owning an Extra 300 (one of the two aircraft flown in our performance). We got to know each other pretty well during the next year or so, which included the delivery of his new Extra and another trip to Santa Rosa for an airshow. Persistent as he is, Dan eventually convinced me of the great potential of his growing business. About a year and a half prior to its sale, I joined Sunset Aviation, and two years later was a plank owner at Solairus.
Solairus is comprised of a great group of people, always going the extra mile to solve problems and make clients happy. Our team has a lot of “try” in it, and that goes a long way in any industry.
I cannot imagine another path that could have been chosen that would have given back to me what I attribute to my involvement with aviation. Whether during my time as a Naval Officer or in my current position as Chief Operating Officer at Solairus, aviation has opened doors that I could never have imagined. I have met and worked alongside unbelievably successful leaders, many of whom were lifelong heroes, have found great mentors and made great friends, and have literally travelled the entire world. What could be better than that?