Legacy Aviation Services emerged from the remains of Oklahoma City-based Downtown Airpark and builds on the specialties of the defunct company, offering sales and support for the Twin Commander family of aircraft.
Raul “RJ” Gomez, CEO of Legacy Aviation Services, was general manager of the Oklahoma City-based Downtown Airpark when it closed in 2005. He and about 75 other people found themselves out of work, but the community viewed Downtown Airpark as an asset and didn’t want to see it go out of business. Gomez and Kevin Chance, Downtown Airpark’s CFO, talked it over, became partners, hired 22 of their fellow employees and decided to pick up where the late company left off.
“We moved the operation to C.E. Page Airport offering the same basic service we had at Downtown Airpark but on a smaller scale. It all happened very fast because Downtown Airpark had a significant reputation in the community and the bankruptcy court wanted to protect that and the company’s clients. We worked out a deal with the court to acquire some of the tooling, parts and ground support equipment. They were willing to make a deal because we promised them we’d be in business offering the same service within two weeks if we were able to have access to that basic tooling and supplies,” Gomez said. “During the process we were suddenly faced with needing a name for the new enterprise; we’d never given it a thought. We came up with Legacy simply because all of the employees and even the equipment was a legacy from Downtown Airpark.”
It wasn’t the best time to start a business, Gomez said, but the partners were conservative and survived the lean times though they had to make a slight contraction in the number of employees.
“Fortunately, 2010 ended up being our best year in terms of sales and currently we’re booked through the first quarter of next year. We’re beginning to look at hiring on more technical staff,” he said.
‘Whenever, Wherever’ Service
Building upon Downtown Airpark’s expertise, Legacy has established a reputation for airframe modification. “Steve Reid, who made the move with us, is a wizard with sheet metal and airframe modifications such as camera holes for aerial mapping and surveying. And Steve’s good at fixing older turboprops and light jets that require airframe modifications especially in the Twin Commander segment,” explained Gomez. “Fortunately we have Dennis Snow running our parts department. When you’re doing that kind of work you need someone who is creative at locating hard-to-find parts.”
Gomez said the company’s emphasis is on building long-term relationships in which Legacy meets their maintenance requirements whenever, wherever necessary. He gave the example of a Turbo Commander client who landed in another state and broke the nose gear.
“We immediately dispatched Steve with the necessary parts and had the client back in the air in two days,” he said. “We’ve sent our chief maintenance officer as far away as Namibia, Africa, to work on one of our customer’s aircraft. Last year we sent technicians to Bogota, Colombia, three times and at various times have dispatched maintenance personnel to Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and a few countries in Europe. That’s the kind of service we provide for our customers; we see ourselves as their partners.”
Legacy operates out of a 35,000-sq-ft complex including three maintenance and repair hangars, offices, an interior backshop, parts department, technical library, battery room, control balance room and a customer/pilot lounge. The FAR Part 145 repair station has 21 employees including six A&P mechanics, one dedicated to structural work, one avionics tech and an FAA IA. The facility works on all Twin Commander models; as well as Cessna Citation 500 series jets; and Hawker Beechcraft King Air 90, 200, 300 and 350 twin turboprops. Engine expertise includes the Honeywell 331 series and PT6 line maintenance.
Legacy is in the process of expanding its base. “At this point we’d like to begin expanding into other turboprop and light jet platforms. We’re waiting to see how the economy goes in the next year, but we’re always open for new opportunities,” Gomez explained.