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Aviation Enterprises opened in 1995 to meet the aviation needs of the Springfield area

by Steven Nix-Ennen

SBJ Contributing Writer

Regional businesspeople looking for a lift need only to look the way of Melvin Humphreys.

Humphreys is the founder and chief operator of Springfield's Aviation Enterprises. From a hangar at Springfield-Branson Regional Airport, Humphreys operates air charter services, a flight school, aircraft rental and all types of maintenance and aircraft/avionics sales.

This seasoned pilot and aircraft mechanic opened the operation in 1995, with some help from Tom Moore, to meet the individual aviation needs of the community. Thus far, Humphreys said, he sees a growing need for individual aviation attention, especially charter flights catering to the needs of an ever-expanding business community.

With Aviation Enterprises,

local businesspeople can get to just about anyplace in the country, on their own time schedules, and return when business is complete.

A key to the value of his

service, Humphreys said, is the element of time.

"You have to figure what your time is worth," Humphreys said. "Most of our clients are businesspeople who value their time."

Humphreys pairs one of his four planes to the demands of the trip: the number of people, the distance, time, weather, etc. He can get them in and out, or wait as long as needed. With personal service paramount to a limousine, Humphreys bypasses the crowded terminals and oft-shaken schedules of commercial airlines.

"My whole goal is to treat people just like that corporate officer is treated if he owned his own aircraft and had a pilot on salary," Humphreys said.

Humphreys and crew work fast. Usually he can be ready to leave the ground within an hour of being contacted. Such expedience has come in handy more than once. Most recently, the fast response was used for the transportation of an organ for transplant.

"We'll go anyplace anybody wants to go," he said.

The only limitation for Humphreys, and the other two pilots at Aviation Enterprises, is a 3,000-foot runway at trip's end.

It may seem like such personal service would be exorbitant in cost, but the fees can be very manageable.

"If you can get two or three people (on a charter flight), we can be cheaper than the commercial airlines," Humphreys said.

His seven-seat Cessna 421 recently made an afternoon trip to Sioux City, Iowa, and back, for about $1,800. He also operates a Cessna 310, which carries up to five passengers; an Aerostar, for flights requiring speed; and the traditional Piper Archer, made for shorter trips carrying three.

"The Aerostar is the fastest plane made with pistons in America since World War II," Humphreys said. "It is good for long trips, but we have to give up some of the creature comforts like (seating) space."

What businesspeople find in charters are a reliable schedule, on-hand luggage, charter terminals and personalized service. In addition to the wide, blue yonder, Humphreys enjoys meeting the variety of people who fly with him. He takes the time to explain goings-on of the airways, or the mechanics of flying, when people ask.

He also helps many in the area reach their own dreams of flying. Aviation Services, which received its official Air Carder Certificate in 1997, offers flight school, consults and brokers the purchase of aircraft, and maintains or pilots aircraft owned by others.

He offers a unique service of aircraft management in which Aviation Enterprises maintains, charters and flies others' planes, offering the fun of ownership without the time-consuming labor of aircraft management and maintenance.

Humphreys started his aircraft career at Tulsa's Spartan School of Aeronautics after graduating from Gainesville High School in 1974. He came to Springfield in 1978. Humphreys' love of outdoor recreation made the Ozarks a perfect landing.

He started his career with Ted Burris, who ran Ozark Skyways. Humphreys said he considers Burris a leading influence in blending maintenance and management in his life.

Later, Springfield's Dave Baldwin helped to mesh flight training, which Humphreys began nearly 15 years ago, with the mechanical skills he had been practicing. Today, Humphreys credits his pastor, Jess Gibson of the Cornerstone Church, with his human-resource guidance.

In addition to pilots, Aviation Enterprises has three aircraft mechanics and a bookkeeper. Humphreys' wife Pamela helps with interior design work on the aircraft and in the offices. For Humphreys, the endeavor is a labor of love. He loves to fly, and he enjoys people.

"The thing I enjoy most is having people around me who enjoy what they are doing. This needs to be a fun place to work," he said. "This is a fun business to be in anyway."

AVIATION ENTERPRISES:

Springfield-Branson

Regional Airport

Founded in 1995

831-2772

PHOTO CAPTION:

Pamela and Melvin Humphreys can be airborne in as little as an hour with the charter service they operate from Springfield-Branson Regional Airport. Steven Nix-Ennen's spotlight appears on page 10.[[In-content Ad]]

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