Friday, December 7, 2007

Boni Caldeira: Seriously Cirrus

In June 2007, Boni Caldeira scored his dream job; a position as regional sales rep in the mid-Atlantic region for Cirrus Design Corp.

While the title isn’t that exciting, the work definitely is -- Caldeira gets to sport around practically every day in a brand new Cirrus SR22 GTS Turbo, the company’s four-seat, 220kt, half-a-million-dollar top-of-the-line 25,000ft cruiser.

“This is it for me,” he says, finding it difficult not to crack a satisfied smile. A typical week for Caldeira includes two days of flying and three days of “office duties,” which can include follow-ups from demo flights, delivering aircraft or visiting flight schools who use Cirrus aircraft as trainers.

Caldeira, 37, was smitten by the aviation bug more than a decade ago when he saw first hand the advantages of owning and flying a private aircraft. Caldeira was working in the equestrian business and tiring of the frequent commutes by automobile up and down the eastern seaboard. He learned to fly at 26 and just kept going, becoming a flight instructor at 30 and launching into a full-time aviation career.

Then it happened. One of his clients in 2003 purchased a Cirrus SR22 in 2003 and Caldeira got his first ride.

“The moment I flew that plane I said to myself, I gotta figure out how to fly this plane more often,” says Caldeira. Soon after he became an independent Cirrus standardized flight instructor specializing in Cirrus transition and recurrent training, and he joined forces with three others to launch Open Air, an air taxi service using Cirrus aircraft, a venture he later left.

Caldeira figures the experience helped him though when Cirrus earlier this year was looking for a regional rep to be based in Frederick, Maryland. More apparent to Cirrus however might have been his ability to relay to customers a time management solution that made a life easier for him many years ago. “If you have a travelling challenge, that’s what this plane does for you,” says Caldeira.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tiger by the Tail -- Kevin Lancaster CEO, True Flight Aerospace

When Kevin Lancaster (right) was five years old, he swiped some
wood from his dad at home in Kentucky and built his first airplane
for a Father's day gift.

While the model might have been just a bit clunky, that entreprenurial spirit remained with Lancaster most of his life, peaking this past summer when he bought his own aircraft company.

He's now CEO of Valdosta, Georgia-based True Flight Aerospace, the company that plans to resurrect the Grumman American AA-5B Tiger in 2008, the rights to which were most recently the property of Tiger Aircraft in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Owned by Tiawanese investors, Tiger went bankrupt earlier this year despite having orders on the books. Lancaster says the issues were "political."

An aviation enthusiast since his youth, Lancaster, 40, previously worked in hotel management and real estate businesses, using private aircraft to crisscross the southern US on business trips. He says he bought his first Tiger two weeks before taking his private pilot’s license test in a Cessna 150 about 10 years ago. Later he bought a second Tiger when his wife learned to fly. He sold both in 2003.

"It's a chase of passions," he says of his journey.

The first chapter in the new book will play out in summer of 2008 when the first new Tiger is expected to roll off the new assembly line in Georgia.

Lancaster is pictured at the top with his consultant, Harry Eckert, one of the original builders of the two-seat Grumman American AA-1, the predecesor of the Tiger.