El Aero, pioneering aviation firm, finds growth in charter business
One of the oldest continuing general aviation businesses in Northern Nevada is Elko-based El Aero Services.
Its president, Ginna Reyes, says the company began during World War II as a flight instruction school, but today has vastly expanded its operations to include Carson City.
“We do have a long history in the state,” Reyes says. “After World War II, the Elko flight instruction operation included agricultural spraying. Today, our private charter business is our bread and butter. It has been very important for our growth, both in Elko and Carson City.”
Expansion into Carson City occurred in 1987 and, because of the capital city’s proximity to both Reno and Lake Tahoe, the company’s business at the airport has enjoyed steady growth. At one time, El Aero expanded operations into Ely, but Reyes says it proved not to be a profitable venture, so it was sold.
Today, El Aero has 10 aircraft, including four Bell helicopters.
“We do a lot of work for the Bureau of Land Management and for the U.S. Forest Service, especially assisting both with firefighting support,” says Reyes. “We are also very active with the local mines. We assist with claims staking and geological surveys. We also do animal survey work and are also called upon for search and rescue support. We are quite active with the latter.”
El Aero’s locations in Elko and Carson City provide flight instruction, charter services, aircraft rental, fuel, repair facilities and office space with a staff of 30 full-time employees.
“This does not include all flight instructors,” Reyes says, “because most are part-time. Flight instructors are a different breed and, as someone else said, it is kind of like herding cats to bring them together as a community. You have one flight instructor, one student and one plane. It is such an isolated one-on-one business.”
El Aero is also focused on supporting efforts to bring new people into the aviation field, not only with its flight school, but through a flight ground school course that is offered at Great Basin Community College in Elko. Reyes says approximately 20 percent of individuals who El Aero graduates go on to have some kind of career in aviation.
“Some may choose to become a part-time pilot; others may buy their own aircraft or rent for a company business. Right now, all of the flight schools are struggling. Learning to fly has become expensive. One must need to have a passion and true desire. The current situation makes it all the more important that we continue to grow our charter business,” she says.
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