Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gateway Jets Brings the World of Aircraft Management to St. Louis, Part Two: Gateway Jets Makes It Happen

By Carmelo Turdo an aircraft is a big responsibility, and utilizing it effectively is an even bigger challenge.  The rewards can be great, though, when the aircraft operations are entrusted to an aircraft management company that always has the owner's best interests in mind.  St. Louis area aircraft owners can have that peace of mind when entrusting locally-based Gateway Jets to manage their personal or business aircraft.

Josh Vinson (L) and Corey Tomczak
In advance of the upcoming Gateway Jets Open House to be held at St. Louis Downtown Airport March 25, The Aero Experience met with company President Corey Tomczak and Vice President Josh Vinson, both experienced corporate pilots who fly all the aircraft under management.  We wanted to learn more about aircraft management and how Gateway Jets serves the St. Louis area aviation community.  In Part One of this series, we discussed the aircraft management business and how Gateway Jets has structured their services to include the most popular and efficient aircraft types used for business and personal air travel.  In Part Two, we will get a more in-depth look into how Gateway Jets provides aircraft management services for their St. Louis area clients and future plans for service at St. Louis Downtown Airport.

Building on the theme we developed in the previous story, we look again at the needs of the aircraft owner as they are established through consultation with Gateway Jets before or after the aircraft is actually acquired.  Even though aircraft management and flying operations are highly regulated, the needs and desires of the client/owner can vary significantly. 

Most of the owners working with Gateway Jets are non-pilots or are not rated for the aircraft under management.  "Each client is different, and it takes a relationship to be built with them," Corey Tomczak explained.  "A few owners like to be completely hands-off - they delegate responsibility 100% and are happy just writing expenses and trusting us to do the work and look after their best interests.  Other owners like to be a little more involved, like to see the behind-the-scenes processes and offer input."  Some clients need contract pilots, and Gateway Jets has the flexibility to have crews available for fixed terms.  Either way, having the ability to arrive when desired at the closest airport to the business or vacation spot, without the crowds and delay experienced with commercial airline travel, in many cases justifies the use of a managed aircraft.

Both Corey Tomczak and Josh Vinson appreciate the range of interests their clients have, and make sure the aircraft under management and their crews are ready when needed.  Having an effective aircraft management company on your side can make the selection of the proper aircraft much easier, and it assures that the use of the aircraft will be an asset rather than a liability. 

"When you have a third party, you have a check and balance system," Tomczak told The Aero Experience.  "When getting more complex airplanes, the owners may not realize the associated costs and complexity of the operations.  They are usually the ones who sell the airplane eventually."  Selling the aircraft, often at a loss, not only wastes money for the owner, but causes the whole aircraft ownership experience to have been a wasted opportunity. 

Gateway Jets can help prevent that situation.  "It's a time and money savings," Tomczak continued.  "We can guarantee time and hassle savings by using our experience to do things the correct way.  Even with our management fee, they will save money."  Part of that savings comes from industry maintenance sourcing and budget forecasting services that greatly reduce the chances of the most common unexpected costs of aircraft ownership. 

Gateway Jets is looking ahead to a year of growth as the year unfolds.  Both Tomczak and Vinson bring many years of flying, aircraft ownership and industry expertise to the St. Louis aviation community, and they are preparing to give Gateway Jets a larger presence.  Part of that increase in capacity will be on display at the upcoming Gateway Jets Open House to be held at St. Louis Downtown Airport this Saturday, March 25.  The hangar used for the event will be the base of operations at the airport, and is conveniently located for client access from the street.  The hangar is climate controlled, includes a lounge and flight preparation area, and of course room to safely store the managed aircraft.  "It will add value,"Josh Vinson mentioned.  "It serves as a staging area for clients to come in and unwind, get ready for departure or do some last-minute business."

Corey Tomczak also has another plan for Gateway Jets: fill the hangar, especially with Citation jets.  For those looking to acquire Citations, especially the later, more efficient models, Gateway Jets can help.  "Citations are quiet, comfortable and efficient, Tomczak said.  "From a pilot and passenger standpoint, they're everything you could ask for.  We would like to get a few more of them in our fleet."  

You can see a Citation and other aircraft and learn more about aircraft management Saturday at the Gateway Jets Open House.  RSVP today at or 314-203-4712.             

The Aero Experience thanks Corey Tomczak and Josh Vinson from Gateway Jets for their hospitality during our interview.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016: General Aviation - Beechcraft Baron

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo long-serving Beechcraft Baron is a workhorse of the general aviation twin-engine piston fleet.  Introduced in 1961, the six-seat Baron has developed through several model updates from the original Model 55 (modified Model 95 Travel Air) to the current G58 styling and powerplant standards.  Significant improvements to cockpit instrumentation and interior passenger cabin arrangements have been made over the decades, and Continental 300hp engines power advanced three-bladed Hartzell propellers.  The Baron cruises at 202kts and has a maximum range of about 1400 miles.  The G58 is still one of the few light twin piston aircraft still in production.     

We have a few examples of the Baron, including the new G58 at the Textron exhibit and others flying in for the week.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016: General Aviation - Daher TBM Family of Turboprops

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo Aero Experience resumes our coverage of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 general aviation with the Daher TBM family of single-engine turboprop aircraft.  The Daher exhibit was impressive again in 2016, featuring late model TBM models in the 800 and 900 series.  The TBM continues to evolve into more capable performer, adding amenities that serve both corporate and personal missions. 

The TBM-700 appeared on the scene in 1990 as the first fully pressurized, single-engine turboprop aircraft.  The TBM series was designed to use advanced alloys and composite construction to offer strong structure and maximum access for maintenance operations.  The Garmin avionics allow for single-pilot flights ranging from 1300-1700 miles.  Five passengers can travel in pressurized comfort at over 300kts.  Over 800 of all models have been delivered, with the TBM-930 selling for just over $4 million.  As can be seen in the photos below, the newest models feature a restroom with privacy door.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Story of Don Allen, World War II Nose Art Painter, Told by Local Family Members

By Carmelo Turdo
(Whirlwind Productions photo)
The story of the Late Don Allen, well-known World War II nose art painter, was told by his daughter, Lynn Chilberg, and his son-in-law, Howard Chilberg, at the Missouri Aviation Historical Society meeting Thursday.  One of the most prolific nose art painters of the war, Don Allen created over 60 airplane names and mascots during his time as a crew chief with the Fourth Fighter Group.  His art adorned Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs, and he was often requested when a new crew member transferred into the group.     

Missouri Aviation Historical Society President Dan O'Hara introduced Mrs. Chilberg, who, naturally, was very proud of his accomplishments in the U.S. Army Air Forces and following the war.  Don Allen had formal art training prior to being drafted in December of 1942, and returned to the world of art as an advertising artist for Ad Art Studios in his native Cleveland, OH until he retired in 1995.  The importance of his wartime artwork was the morale boost it gave to the crews as they fought the persistent German Luftwaffe while protecting the bomber crews.   

Mr. Chilberg, Professor of English at St. Louis University, contributed a reading of a journal entry relating Don Allen's extended mission to Ukrain and back to England as a gunner on a B-17.  Allen was "attached" to the bomber crew, giving himself gunnery training during the first leg of the mission that would include several days of hard flying, an emergency landing, and meeting his own fighter unit at the Ukrainian base.  Such is the unpredictability of wartime missions and crew assignments.

Following the presentations, the group viewed extensive coverage of Don Allen's work in the documentary, Nose Art and Pin-Ups (Whirlwind Productions).  A portion of the video covered the many nose art examples reproduced by Allen before his death in 2013 for a display currently at Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC, home of the current Fourth Fighter Wing.  High-quality color prints of some of the nose art were produced and were available for purchase.      

This presentation was an example of the excellent programs held at the monthly meetings of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.  The Aero Experience highly recommends supporting this organization through the benefits of membership.