The Big Sky Airport in Ennis recently upgraded their level of aviation services provided by partnering with Choice Aviation, a full service fixed-base operator that hopes to bring an economic boost to the Madison Valley with their business.
With five other FBOs in the Rocky Mountain region, Choice Aviation has already established themselves as a first class provider of aeronautical services, many of which were not previously available at the Big Sky Airport.
Joel Simmons, Director of Line Operations for the company, said that a study of another Choice Aviation facility from three years ago indicated each corporate aircraft kept at the FBO brought approximately $9,000 of economic stimulus into that community. And with more than 20 jet aircraft that frequent the airport, Simmons is excited about the opportunities the planes will bring with them.
“We’re a very diverse operator, not only with multiple facilities but the fact that we have a full arrangement of services that go far beyond serving the corporate world,” he said. “To have that service in town is a great asset to the community.”
Since taking over operations on September 1, Choice Aviation has been fully operational with services ranging from flight instruction and aircraft rental to charter flights and aircraft maintenance and management. In the past, aircraft were forced to go elsewhere for these services after dropping passengers off in Ennis, but Simmons hopes an increase in traffic to the airport will spill over into the community’s service industry.
“The crews and passengers are going use rental cars, hotel rooms,” he said. “They’re going to eat at the restaurants, they’re going to spend money for entertainment.”
In addition to new management at the airport, the company offers what Simmons calls “aircraft management.” People who own an aircraft need someone to work on it and assist with pilots and Federal Aviation Administration requirements, he explained, and Choice has a handful of aircraft that they purchased for the owners.
“It’s not quite like owning a car,” said Simmons. “The owners own it, but we manage that asset for them.”
Choice Aviation also runs FBOs in Hamilton, Stevensville, Glasgow and Cody, Wyo., and they own 16 aircraft spaced between their offices. Currently their Cessna 172 is stationed at the Big Sky Airport for flight lessons, but all the company’s aircraft are available for charter.
“You call up a charter, want to go to New York?” asks Simmons. “We can have an aircraft there within 40 minutes and it’s ready to take you anywhere you want to go.”
The company offers scenic flights, including a short Discovery Flight for people to go up in an aircraft with an instructor for twenty or thirty minutes just to see what its like. With the ability to see the landscape from above, Simmons says people want to get a look at everything from dams and reservoirs to bears and elk in the mountains. He invites people to come see for themselves.
“Come in and talk to us. We’ll show you around the airport, show you around the hangar, show you around an aircraft.”
“We’re thrilled about this opportunity,” Simmons said. “General aviation is exciting!”
For more information on Choice Aviation’s FBO at the Big Sky Airport, call 682-7502 or visit their website at www.choiceaviation.com.