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Springfield Aircraft Charter, Pro Flight announce merger

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Two local airport businesses are merging. Springfield Aircraft Charter and Sales and Pro Flight Air have announced that they will merge under common ownership.

Interested parties signed a letter of intent to merge the companies Sept. 1, and the deal is set to close this month, said David Vorbeck, who is with Springfield Aircraft Charter and Sales.

Vorbeck is assistant to the president of Worldwide Aircraft Services, which is the principal owner of Springfield Aircraft. Worldwide is owned by Jim McClean and David Dunham, and the company, along with two other private investors, owns Springfield Aircraft.

Ann Humphreys owns Pro Flight Air. Pro Flight Air will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Springfield Aircraft, and the ownership in Springfield Aircraft will shift to Worldwide, with Humphreys as its partner in ownership.

Both companies will maintain the names they now use.

Springfield Aircraft has 10 to 12 employees and has a charter service and flight school as its primary business. Since Pro Flight has a much larger flight school, Springfield Aircraft will discontinue its flight school and focus on the charter business. Humphreys will head the combined organizations.

Pro Flight has the certification necessary for a flight school, and Springfield Aircraft has maintained its certification for charter service.

Both certifications are granted by the Federal Aviation Administration. McClean said each organization would maintain its certification.

The two businesses operate on the Springfield Branson Regional Airport; Springfield Aircraft is in Hangar Three while Pro Flight is in Hangar Two. The companies also lease aircraft and hangar space. Between the two organizations, they manage four hangars.

McClean said the companies are very compatible in their lines of business and work seasons.

"We feel like this will mean a more productive organization for both companies. Ann has a tremendous amount of experience and will be a great leader for the companies," McClean said.

Humphreys added that the Springfield Aircraft maintenance team would be very helpful to Pro Flight Air. Pro Flight also has a presence on the Bolivar airport, where it also handles fuel sales and runs a restaurant, Ann's Landing.

Springfield Aircraft Charter has been around for about 10 years and has about 12 employees, half of whom are pilots, McClean said. The company owns more than 25 airplanes, ranging in size from two-seaters to 19-seat passenger turbo props.

The company takes the aircraft all over the country for charter service and focuses on providing the service to businesses, private individuals and school groups, such as sports teams, McClean said.

There are very few businesses involved in the larger turbo-prop charter business, McClean said, and the company plans to expand even further into that type of business when it adds 30-seat planes next year.

With the larger aircraft will come more amenities for charter travelers, such as a stand-up cabin and flight attendants on board. Right now, the company does not have a plane with a stand-up cabin.

Pro Flight has eight pilots on staff who are also instructors and serves between 30 and 50 flight students at its flight school, Humphreys said. At Bolivar, the company serves 10 to 15 students. Students can earn a private pilot's license with about 35 hours of instruction and an expenditure of about $2,400.

The flight school also offers a range of other training for nearly any type of pilot's license.

The school offers course credit for its pilot courses through Ozarks Technical Community College.

Pro Flight is also a franchisee of the Sylvan Learning Centers, which means it can administer the computerized tests for pilot's licenses, along with a range of other tests on computer, such as the Graduate Record Examination or Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Pro Flight performs more flight instruction than any other company in the state besides the Central Missouri State University flight school in Warrensburg, Humphreys said.

McClean said he is looking forward to the merger, because it will enhance each company's performance and consolidate management responsibilities.

"I see only good things in Springfield Aircraft Charter's future. It went from being a $10,000-per-year company to over $2 million in revenues in a year, and it's growing stronger all the time," McClean said.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Jim McClean and Ann Humphreys are among the owners of the merged companies.[[In-content Ad]]

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