Like a lot of young Americans in the late 1960s, Pete Cranick was introduced to aviation through the U.S. military.
“The Navy trained me as a jet mechanic and I was assigned to Hawaii to work on the P-3 Orion,” the president of Phoenix Rising Aviation told AIN. “It was a good deal until we rotated to Adak, Alaska.”
If the Alaskan weather bothered Cranick, it wasn’t for long. Within two months he was reassigned to a land-based Naval unit in Vietnam. The year was 1967, the Navy’s river boats were taking a lot of heat and a fleet of helicopters was formed to support them. Cranick spent a year in Vietnam working on those helicopters until the end of his enlistment. After returning to civilian life Cranick drove a milk truck for a year but found that he missed working on aircraft.
“I enrolled in the A&P program at Aero Mechanics on Downtown Airport in Kansas City,” he said. His first job was working on the L-1011 assembly line for Lockheed in California. After four years he got laid off. “Fortunately, AirResearch in Los Angeles was looking for mechanics to work in its JetStar retrofit program so I applied and went to work for them.”
Cranick liked working in corporate aviation, but the 140-mile-per-day commute to AirResearch began taking its toll after two years, so when Lockheed began ramping up again and asked him to return, he did.
He worked there for about 18 months when his wife convinced him to move to Southern Missouri. In October 1979 he took a job with Dassault Falcon Jet in Little Rock as a flight-test lead man. He held that position for 10 years before moving to Bizjet International Sales and Support, where he ran the Falcon program.
“I amassed a lot of Falcon experience with Bizjet and stayed with them until 1995, when they had the layoffs. I was fortunate to be able to get an A&P spot with nearby TulsaAir working on an assortment of aircraft ranging from small general aviation to corporate jets. About a year later I was recalled to Bizjet but when they were bought up by Lufthansa in 2001 I was once again out of a job,” Cranick said.
While at Bizjet the second time he met Warren Peck, a former USAF fighter pilot and Falcon 20 captain, who was working for the company as director of avionics. Peck was laid off at the same time and the two paths diverged, with Cranick taking the v-p of maintenance slot at Springdale Air in Springdale, Ark., and Peck flying a Falcon 20 for a private owner.
When the owner of Peck’s Falcon wanted someone to do maintenance, Peck suggested Cranick. The two acted on the owner’s suggestion that they start their own company to work on the Falcon as independent operators.
The company opened in Fayetteville, Ark., in December 2002 with a small hangar and one customer. The Falcon didn’t fly that often “and we had a lot of excess time on our hands, so we started doing maintenance for other operators as well,” Cranick said.
“Warren was originally from around Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and kept in touch with people in the area. When Phillips Petroleum merged with Conoco he found out Phillips’ flight department was moving to Houston.” The city was looking for a new tenant to occupy the space, “and they made us a deal we couldn’t refuse,” Cranick recalls. The company moved to Bartlesville Municipal Airport (BVO) in April 2005.
The FAA FAR 145 MRO is now located south of the BVO terminal building in a dedicated hangar facility with office and workshop space. Based on both Cranick’s and Peck’s long association with Falcons, Phoenix Rising Aviation offers a full maintenance program for the Falcon 10, 100, 20, 200 and 50. The facility’s expertise includes 2C inspections, fuel tank and wing plank inspections, and major corrosion inspections (MCI). The company also offers avionics and has completed a major Falcon 20 avionics retrofit installation including TCAS II, EGPWS, dual FMS, navcom upgrade and RVSM compliance.
The company has five employees on the floor, four A&P mechanics and one avionics technician. Cranick serves as the chief inspector and Peck handles the administrative end.
“A lot of folks think that the older Falcons are hard to maintain and are more expensive than other business jets, but we’ve not found that to be true at all,” he said. “We focus only on the Falcon line and that gives us a pretty high level of efficiency.”
Cranick said the company puts a significant amount of emphasis on looking for ways to help keep the total cost down during a large inspection. “Some of the traditional outlets for component repair and overhaul are getting harder and much more expensive to get parts from so we look that much harder for other sources,” he said. “We know Falcons and we offer our customers quality service at a fair price.”