In 1998, the National Business Aviation Association started honoring member companies that have flown 50 years or more without an accident, and in 2006, the association added companies that have 60-year records. In 2010, three companies were honored for having 75 years of safe operation: Lane Aviation, Columbus, Ohio; South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, Columbia, S.C.; and Exxon Mobil, Dallas, Texas.
NBAA Convention News talked with this year’s honorees to find out about their operations and the secrets of their successes.
2010 60-Year Award Recipients
St. Paul, Minn.
John Kummer, director of aviation
The 3M flight department started 60 years ago flying Douglas DC-3s and Cessna 310s. Based at St. Paul Downtown Airport/Holman Field, it now operates Gulfstream Vs and G550s. Director of aviation John Kummer flies both models and told AIN that the G550 is his favorite corporate aircraft to fly. He has been with 3M for 16 years, as line pilot for eight years, a training pilot for two years and chief pilot for three years before becoming director of aviation three years ago. He became interested in aviation because his father flew in the U.S. Air Force. Kummer also was an Air Force pilot, flying C-130s, and served with the Minnesota Air National Guard.
He attributes the company’s outstanding 60-year safety record to “a safety culture that starts at the top, outstanding employees, and relentless training.”
Rick Johnson, chief pilot
Idaho Power, the state’s largest utility, is receiving its NBAA 60-Year Safe Flying Achievement Award this year, in addition to being in the top five companies receiving Corporate Business Flying Safety Awards. Idaho Power has actually achieved 64 years of safe operations and has just provided NBAA documentation of its history.
2010 50-Year Award Recipients
Roger Gates, general manager of aviation
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) operates in 70 countries, with annual revenue of $80 billion. The fight department, based at the Decatur Airport, where the company is headquartered, started in the 1950s with a Shrike Commander and in the 1960s acquired its first jet, a Sabreliner. ADM now operates three Dassault Falcons–two 2000LXs and a 7X–a Cessna Citation Mustang and a Citation Excel, and it flies a King Air 350 in São Paulo, Brazil. The flight department has 14 pilots and a total staff of 24.
Roger Gates, who has been with the company for 26 years and as general manager for three, told AIN that the ADM safety record is due to the tremendous amount of diligence on the part of the pilots and the mechanics and what he called the ethics of safety. He said that company leaders always provided the resources needed to operate safely and never asked the pilots to do anything dangerous. He said the culture of safety increased in the last few years under the current CEO, who puts safety on a “high level.” The company as a whole strives for zero accidents.
Gates said his favorite airplane to fly is the Falcon 7X–“it’s a nice airplane.” He said his father was interested in airplanes, but was not a pilot. For Gates’s fifth birthday, his father arranged a flight for him with a farmer who took other farmers up to see their crops. After that, he said, he always wanted to fly and was able to take lessons while attending the University of Illinois. He didn’t fly in the military but he mentioned that his son will start Army helicopter training in November.
Although the company declined to comment for this article, a trip through AIN’s archives reveals that the Coca-Cola flight department had its origins in a single DC-3 purchased in 1952 and based at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. That airplane was replaced five years later with a Howard Super Ventura, which was replaced in 1961 with a Convair 440 and shortly joined by a DC-3, creating a multi-plane fleet of two! The DC-3 was replaced by a GI, supplemented with a second. Through the ’60s the GIs were replaced by a succession of GIIs. Significantly, now, one of the GIIs was the second U.S. corporate aircraft to fly into Peking, China, which it did in March 1979. In 1966, the department acquired its first jet–a Lockheed JetStar. By the close of the next decade it had ordered two Challengers and was fielding three GIIIs in a hangar at Hartsfield.
Mount Sterling, Ill.
Paul Reynolds Walker, captain
Dot Foods, a large food redistributor, delivers food products from manufacturers to distributors in all 50 states. Capt. Paul Reynolds Walker told AIN that Dot was a pioneer in the industry, its flight department starting out 50 years ago with a Cessna 140. Over the years, it flew a Cessna 180, a Piper Comanche and a Cherokee Six. Today, there are five aircraft in the fleet, based at Mount Sterling Municipal Airport: a Cessna Citation Bravo, a Citation Mustang, a TBM 700, a Cessna 414 and a single-engine Cessna 206. The company also leases a Citation II. There are two company owners who fly, plus three full-time pilots and seven part-time. A total of 12 people work in the flight department.
Walker said Dot has always put safety at the top of the list, with the company providing training at FlightSafety International and SimCom. Pilots are not pushed to fly if they are uncomfortable with the weather or have other concerns, he explained.
Walker has been with the company since the early 1990s, having worked for it first in a part-time capacity, transitioning to full time seven years ago. As for his early flying experience, he said at age 18 he took a $5 airplane ride and afterward wanted to fly, but thought it was beyond reach. He eventually he earned all his certificates and ratings, training with a retired corporate pilot. Walker’s favorite airplane to fly is the Bravo, he said.
Angela DiBiase, lead dispatcher, office manager
Ashten Tullier, shuttle dispatcher, Gulf Coast operations
Dow Chemical is a multinational corporation, providing plastics, chemicals and agricultural products with a presence in more than 175 countries. The flight department is based at MBS International Airport, Freeland, Mich., and it now operates two Bombardier CRJ-700s and a mix of Gulfstreams and Dassault Falcons.“The Dow Chemical Company’s flight department began in 1946,” said Angela DiBiase, lead dispatcher and office manager. We have grown over the years keeping Dow’s values–integrity, respect for people and protecting our environment–in the forefront. We have been in the shuttle business since the early 1970s. Last year, we moved more than 40,000 people on our corporate shuttle.”
DiBiase has worked for Dow for 12 years, 10 in her current position. She said, “I’ve grown up in a family of aviation enthusiasts. My father is an avionics technician and my uncle a pilot. Growing up, the big trip on summer vacation was to Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in. I feel fortunate to work in such a dynamic and fascinating industry. I absolutely love what I do.”
Ashten Tullier, shuttle dispatcher for Gulf Coast operations, has been with the company six years, three in her current position. “As a child I was always fascinated with airplanes,” she said. “Every time my parents would say we were going on vacation, my first question was, ‘Are we flying there?’ When this job opportunity presented itself, I went at it full force. It’s a privilege to be in the role I am in and be able to do something that I love on a daily basis.”
DiBiase told AIN that “safety is our number-one concern.” She added that Dow’s long safety record could be attributed to, “disciplined adherence to standard operating practices. We’ve recently adopted IS-BAO certification with a robust safety management system.” And no doubt, part of the success is due to enthusiastic employees such as DiBiase and Tullier.