In 1998, the National Business Aviation Association began 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. AIN interviewed this year’s honorees to find out about their operations and the secrets of their success.
50-Year Award Recipients
Hormel, the worldwide manufacturer of food products such as Spam, Dinty Moore stew and Lloyd’s Barbecue, started its flight department 50 years ago with Aero Commanders and Beech King Airs. It now operates Gulfstream G150s and G200s, employing six pilots, two mechanics and one scheduler.
Rick Stoulil has been chief pilot for 10 years and has been employed by the company for 12 years. He said his favorite airplane is the G200. “I became interested in flying after graduating from college,” he said. “I did not plan to make flying my career, but after taking ground school and learning to fly in California, it became apparent that was what I wanted to do for a living. I was very lucky in that I had some great teachers and employers early in my flying career who helped me progress quickly, and I am forever thankful to those folks.” ADVANCE \x 540 Before joining Hormel, Stoulil flew for a computer company in Sioux City, Iowa, and before that he flew for a charter company in Las Vegas.
As for Hormel’s 50-year long safety record, he said, “The safety-first attitude of top management at Hormel Foods is the major contributor to our safety record. Safety, not only in the aviation department but company-wide in our manufacturing facilities, is one of the company’s top priorities.”
Muscatine Corp. is a division of Kent Corp., a diversified, family-owned company with operating subsidiaries involved in corn wet milling, the production of animal feeds and the manufacture of food products. The company was started in 1927 and its flight department started 50 years ago with a Piper Apache. Now Muscatine operates a Cessna Citation Encore+. Muscatine employs two pilots, two schedulers and one manager of operations. Jeff Bohling, president and manager of flight operations has been with the company for 14 years. Before joining Kent, he was a regional sales representative for a manufacturer of animal nutrition products.
Bohling attributes his company’s long safety record to “employing people who have a real passion for aviation and who are serious about providing safe, efficient travel for our owners and employees.”
60-Year Award Recipients
NiSource is a Fortune 500 company engaged in natural gas transmission, storage and distribution, as well as electric generation, transmission and distribution. NiSource companies deliver energy to 3.8 million customers in the high-demand energy corridor that runs from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.
Early aircraft flown by NiSource’s predecessor companies included Beech 18s and Lockheed Lodestars. Through the years, the company has operated Merlins, GIs, Citation SIIs, Hawkers, Learjets and a Bell 222 and 412SP for transport flights. “We also operate patrol flight aircraft to regularly monitor our electric and natural gas system,” said aviation services manager Ralph Rosenbrock, “which includes Cessna 182s and Bell 206 helicopters.”
NiSource currently operates a Cessna Citation Sovereign for transport, plus the utility patrol aircraft. The flight department employs eight pilots.
Rosenbrock joined the company 20 years ago and has been aviation manager for the last 13 years. “I first became interested in aviation,” he said, “when I was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1966 and sent to multiple aviation maintenance schools. I flew for my entire deployment in Vietnam as a crewmember on a CH-47A Chinook helicopter.” His career has been primarily in the helicopter industry. “I’ve also spent time in helicopter risk assessment and risk management. Prior to my current role, I owned my own company that specialized in helicopter safety, technical and financial consultations. I also spent more than 20 years as the technical editor of the Official Helicopter Blue Book.
“Safety is job number-one in our business, not only in the aviation department, but throughout all of our operations. The key to safe operations is support from the very top of the organization and a staff that embraces the company’s safety culture, on-the-job and at home.”
Procter & Gamble
A list of Procter & Gamble products would fill your shopping cart at the supermarket: Gillette, Ivory, Old Spice, Bounty, Charmin, Mr. Clean and Tide are just a sampling. The company began corporate flight operations in 1951 at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, flying corporate-outfitted Douglas DC-3s. “Over the years, the company has operated Gulfstream I, II, III, IV, V and G550 aircraft as well as Challenger 601-3As and Sabreliners,” said global flight operations director Stephen Ripley. “We now operate two Gulfstream IVs and three G550s.” The flight operation employs 50 people.
Ripley has been with the company since 2000 and took on his current role in 2006. Prior to joining Procter & Gamble he worked for Mobil Oil’s flight department for 21 years, in the U.S., Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Ripley attributes Procter & Gamble’s long safety record to “the company’s culture and continued support to do the right thing, to the people who started the flight department and laid the foundation for safety and training and to the employees today who carry on the proud tradition and safety record.”