How one entrepreneur fulfilled the American dream

CBS News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jennifer Guthrie has just moved into her new offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her aviation staffing company is growing so fast, this is the fourth time she’s moved in four years.

She started her business with no capital and made $800 in her first month; last year she made $12 million dollars.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Guthrie.

That journey began in her basement back in 2002. Her company, In-Flight Crew Connections, found a niche market that was untapped in the Southeast, staffing flight crews for corporate and private planes.

Guthrie says, at the beginning, she didn’t have huge dreams of wealth.

“Just wanted to have my own business, have the American dream, have a family, have a house, you know, have a little extra income,” she said. “Now we have it.”

Guthrie started with one other employee: her ex-husband. She has 16 full-time employees today and issued W-2 income statements for 526 pilots, flight attendants and technicians she hired last year. Kathy Duffy is one of the flight attendants.

Duffy told us the craziest request she’s ever gotten from a client was to fly a dog by itself and have special treats on board.

When the recession hit in 2008, the market for private jets went into a tailspin. Guthrie lost two-thirds of her business.

She cut back, hung onto as many clients as she could, and business is soaring again. In-Flight Crew Connections has grown nearly 1,500 percent over the last three years.

“I don’t have a boss that’s standing over my shoulder making sure what time did I come in and what did I do today — I have to answer to myself and that’s a lot of pressure,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie wishes she had work for all the jobless pilots and flight attendants who call. It’s a reminder that moving again is a nice problem to have.

A-B Tech receives workforce development award


Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has been recognized for the training program that serves GE Aviation.

The college received the Workforce Development Award from the Community Colleges of Appalachia, according to a news release from A-B Tech.

The Community College of Appalachia is an association of 39 public community colleges from Mississippi to New York.

A-B Tech currently trains GE employees to build aviation parts made of an innovative, proprietary ceramic matrix composite material.

When GE Aviation announced an expansion of its existing manufacturing production in Asheville in November 2013, A-B Tech committed to designing and developing a training program that would serve GE Aviation’s needs and requirements, the release states.

This was made possible with support and funding from the North Carolina Community College System, the state’s NCWorks Customized Training Program, and the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) Department at A-B Tech successfully secured nearly 5,000 square feet on the Asheville campus to house equipment and provide training space.

In November 2014, a year after GE Aviation’s announcement, the EWD Department at A-B Tech opened the “Composites Training Center of Excellence,” the only facility of its kind in Western North Carolina.

In addition to the possibility of working for GE Aviation, students completing the Composites Certification can find jobs in automotive, aviation, marine, technology, and entrepreneurial enterprises close to Asheville, and stretching to areas in Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia.

“The success of this program, which the award recognizes, is the work of Shelley White, our vice president for economic and workforce development/continuing education, as well as Kevin Kimrey and Andy McNeal of her team. I am very proud of what we have accomplished here and of the people who made it happen,” A-B Tech President Dennis King said in the release.

GTCC prepares 237 students for aviation jobs, plans to train many more

North Carolina Poised For Aerospace Growth

Robert W. Moorman | ShowNews

Six as-yet unidentified aerospace companies have expressed strong interest in coming to the Charlotte North Carolina region. Some may announce their plans here at Paris.

“We expect to see an increase in capacity and production and new interest in the region,” said Vanessa Goeschl, SVP, marketing and research, for the Charlotte Regional Partnership. Current growth is mainly among those aerospace companies already in the region.

The 10,000-sq.-ft. Okuma America Aerospace Center of Excellence, a machine tool manufacturer and testing facility for advanced CNC machining technology, has been adding business and employees since opening in December 2014. Okuma is testing new lightweight machine tools for aircraft manufacturers and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. It supports Boeing’s manufacturing efforts at plants in North Charleston, South Carolina and Washington State.

Shelby-based Ultra Machine & Fabrication Inc., is now owned by Universal Manufacturing of Lincoln, Nebraska. A number of the employees were laid off initially, but rehired following the change in ownership. Plans are to expand the operation and boost employment by 150 workers. At one time, the operation relied solely on defense contracts for armoring military vehicles, but that source of revenue diminished following defense budget cuts.

Elsewhere in the State, GE Aviation, which in mid-October 2014 opened a new $126 million composites factory near Asheville, continues to grow. The facility is the first in the world to mass-produce engine components made of advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials and is building a high-pressure turbine shroud for the LEAP engine, powerplant for the new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC C919.

The one piece of bad news over the last year involved Turbomeca Manufacturing, the division of Safran Turbomeca USA, which closed its engine parts plant in Monroe, eliminating 112 jobs. The downsizing, which also included the shutdown of a research and development center in the UK, was due to competitive pressures, according to the company. Turbomeca’s plant in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area continues to produce helicopter engine parts.

Filling the talent pool with trained workers that can support aerospace businesses is a priority for the State and aerospace businesses. Community colleges in the region have added aerospace programs to their curriculum, according to the Partnership.

Goeschl said the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, NC State, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University as well as Clemson University in South Carolina have bolstered their engineering and aerospace programs to help support the growing aerospace business in the Southeast.

NC Aerospace, a new non-profit formed to strengthen the aerospace sector throughout the State, is helping develop and train people in various aviation trades. The association’s goal is to develop “a pipeline of talent,” according to managing director Penny Whiteheart, who said that the association is helping bolster training in trades such as bonding, welding and assembly, precision machining, semiconductors and fabrics.

As aerospace businesses expand in the region, so too does American Airlines’ second largest hub, Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The Charlotte City Council formed a task force on how to best use a large tract of undeveloped land near the airport, with the aim of attracting aviation-related businesses. This project is in addition to the ongoing expansion efforts at Charlotte Douglas. A USD30 million terminal expansion continues, which includes new concourses and a 7,000-slot parking surface and rental car area. Over the next seven years, the airport plans to widen roads to the upper and lower levels of the main terminal, and build pedestrian sky bridges and underground walkways that connect the terminal with the parking facilities.

Expansion plans also include a fourth parallel runway to help with projected growth. The primary beneficiary of another runway would be American Airlines, which accounts for most of the traffic at Charlotte.

Charlotte Monroe Executive airport, which is 35-minutes away by car from the commercial airport, opened its new U.S. Customs facility this spring.

More than 120 aerospace and aviation related firms have operations in the Charlotte industry cluster, among them BAE Systems and UTC Aerospace Systems, which in 2013 moved its entire operation to Charlotte.

Southeastern North Carolina is a growing source of aerospace activity. The North Carolina Aerospace Initiative, a joint venture between educational and economic development organizations to promote applied research and aerospace education, is doing for the Southeastern portion of the State what the Partnership is doing for the Charlotte corridor.

With a network of highways, airports, the close proximity to the Port of Wilmington, and anchor companies like GE Aircraft Engines – Wilmington, the region is poised for growth in the aerospace sector.

Obama targets airplanes for climate rules

By Timothy Cama and Devin Henry – The Hill

The Obama administration wants to declare that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes are harmful, which would set up regulations to limit the pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed “endangerment finding” Wednesday, which would formally conclude that carbon dioxide and any other greenhouse gases from commercial airplanes contribute to climate change and harm the public health and welfare.

“Today we are proposing to find that greenhouse gas emissions from engines used primarily on commercial aircraft contribute to the pollution that causes climate change, setting the stage to potentially limit greenhouse gas emissions in future standards,” Christopher Grundler, the EPA’s top transportation emissions regulatory, told reporters.

While the Obama administration is kicking off the process, any regulation resulting from it would not be made final until 2018 — long after President Obama is out of office.

The move is a major win for environmentalists; aircraft are the largest source of greenhouse gases that the EPA is not either regulating or planning to regulate.

But the EPA’s proposed solution to the airplane climate problem — adopting upcoming international standards for aircraft — received quick condemnation from environmentalists who predict the worldwide rules will be weak.

And Republicans were immediately skeptical of the Obama administration extending its climate regulations over another major sector.

Along with the proposed endangerment finding, the EPA set the stage Wednesday for eventually writing a formal regulation limiting airplanes’ emissions, which it said would likely align with International Commercial Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules due out in February 2016. The ICAO, a United Nations agency, is the main regulatory body for international air travel.

The EPA is not obligated to align with the international rules, and greens are calling for the agency to go beyond them.

But Grundler said matching the ICAO would be the best option if the rules go forward.

“Our No. 1 goal is to secure a meaningful international standard,” he said. “There are sound environmental policy reasons to do so. An international standard would cover way more aircraft than simply a domestic standard and would secure far more greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

Airplanes in the United States emit about 11 percent of the transportation sector’s carbon, or about 29 percent of the carbon from the worldwide aviation industry. But their emissions are only 3 percent of the total greenhouse gases in the country.

The EPA’s action mirrors similar endangerment findings it made starting in 2009 regarding greenhouse gases from cars, trucks and power plants.

The early action from the EPA did not set any particular targets for reducing planes’ carbon output, nor did it clarify what measures could be used. It also did not estimate the costs, which would likely be passed onto passengers.

The airline industry said it supports the ICAO process and said the EPA is right to follow the international body’s lead.

“Aviation is a global industry, making it critical that aircraft emissions standards continue to be agreed upon at the international level,” Nancy Young, vice president for environmental affairs at Airlines for America, said in a statement.

“While we believe that any regulatory action must be consistent with both the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act and the future ICAO standard, today’s action reconfirms the EPA’s commitment to the ICAO process for achieving a global CO2 standard for new aircraft,” Young continued.

Environment America applauded the move, but urged stronger standards than the international ones.

“Since today’s announcement will likely cause a fight in Congress, we hope the president makes this a fight worth having by requiring real cuts in airplane pollution,” Anna Aurilio, director of the group’s global warming program, said in a statement. “Bold action on climate should solve the problem of pollution from airplanes, not just acknowledge it.”

“The sky is the limit when it comes to how much of the U.S. economy the EPA wants to control,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee, said in a statement, complaining that the rules would increase ticket prices and hurt airlines.

“This proposal is the next leg of a nonstop journey by the EPA to control how Americans live, work and travel,” he said.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) blasted the EPA’s action.

“If there is any endangerment finding that needs to be released it is on the danger the EPA poses to the American economy,” he said in a statement. “This regulation will only serve to hurt Kansas aviation workers and their families, while doing nothing to achieve any measurable reduction in carbon emissions.”

Triad aviation academy quadruples size of internship program

The Flight of Michimasa Fujino’s life

by Joann Muller, Forbes

At a North Carolina airfield just 240 miles from aviation’s birthplace, a revolutionary Honda engineer named Michimasa Fujino is making his 29-year dream of a new kind of business jet a reality

Michimasa Fujino, chief executive of Honda Aircraft Co, clambers up a steep ladder to a grated-metal platform to check on his baby. At eye level, he peers inside the machinery where Honda’s new advanced light jet is choking in wires and sensors—3,000 gauges in all—an ugly cross between a spacecraft and a Christmas tree. He’s collecting data on the plane’s structural integrity while it’s being buffeted with simulated forces well above its maximum loads.
The plane’s composite fuselage holds up well, as expected, inside this sophisticated torture chamber in Greensboro, North Carolina—a good sign. Next door, in a sparkling new factory with soaring ceilings and a floor so glossy you can see your reflection in it, workers dressed in bright white uniforms are handcrafting HondaJets for customers who have been waiting more than eight years to take delivery. The wait is nearly over. On March 27, the plane received provisional type certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, a critical milestone that means it is safe for flight. Final FAA approval is expected in the next few months.

When it comes, it will be a great relief for Honda, the $117 billion (sales) Japanese industrial icon (No. 63 on the Global 2000) best known for making cars, motorcycles and power generators. The launch of HondaJet, three decades in the making at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion to $2 billion, is an opportunity to shift the focus away from a string of crises that knocked the company off its game in recent years. It survived the Great Recession only to be rocked by the Japanese tsunami and then a flood of quality recalls that tarnished its reputation. Earlier this year, US regulators slapped Honda with a record $70 million fine for failing to report warranty claims and more than 1,700 incidents involving death or injury, as required under the government’s early-warning safety system. A few weeks later, Honda said CEO Takanobu Ito, 61, would step down in June after six years at the helm. Honda officials disputed reports that Ito was pushed out, noting that his tenure was in line with past CEOs and that he handpicked his successor.

While the company is thrilled to showcase its reviving industrial ingenuity, no one will be happier than Fujino. The delivery of the first HondaJets in the next few months is the culmination of a 29-year obsession to create a breakthrough small jet aircraft—quieter, roomier and faster than any rival in the commercial market.

With a price tag of $4.5 million, the HondaJet is being marketed as a tool for business owners who have assets of $20 million to $40 million and want to keep tabs on their operations. But they’re just as likely to use one for a quick golf outing or weekend getaway. These buyers, mostly in the US, were hit hard when the economy tanked, and many wouldn’t have been able to get financing anyway. But Honda’s timing could be right, says aviation consultant Rolland Vincent. Worldwide sales of business jets rose 6.5 percent in 2014, to 722 planes, worth $22 billion. Although very light jets (like the 9,200-or-so-pound HondaJet) are still lagging, sales are perking up. Last year, 87 light jets (under 12,500 pounds) were delivered, up from 77 in 2013 but still way down from the 371 delivered in 2008. “The feeling that we’re through this dark time is highest among smaller-jet owners,” Vincent said. Early demand is promising. Honda already has more than 100 orders. Successful newcomers are rare in the aviation industry, but Honda’s credibility in autos gives it a better chance than most, says Vincent. “Who can question their engineering prowess, their manufacturing expertise, their supply chains?”

And who can question Fujino’s determination to reinvent business jet travel? “My career objective was to create a concept for an airplane, and design and sell it by myself,” said the intense but soft-spoken Fujino, a youthful-looking 54, with thick eyebrows and large wire-rim glasses competing for attention. “I don’t want to be [responsible for] just a portion of the product. I want to start by concept.”

It’s hardly the traditional deflated-ego kenkyo of a “team-first” Tokyo salaryman, but that’s Fujino. In an age where engineering is dominated by anonymous teams, his HondaJet, with its long tapered nose and distinctive engine placement on top of the wings, is a personal statement, the aluminum and carbon fibre embodiment of an extraordinary decades-long journey that led him from his birthplace in Japan to a Mississippi college town, back to the boardrooms of Japan and, finally, to the helm of this manufacturing plant in North Carolina, 240 miles—as the private jet flies—from Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers took flight in 1903.

“From time to time, there are developments in aircraft that break the mould of the past,” says Bruce Holmes, a former Nasa research engineer and aerodynamics expert. “And I think the HondaJet is one of them.”

Even parked on the tarmac, the HondaJet is striking, with its sharp beak and bold palette choices: Red, blue, green, yellow or silver. But its most distinctive feature is the unusual location of the engines—on top of the wings.

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We are excited about the USS Yorktown Fly In scheduled for SUNDAY, June 14th (No, not Fathers Day)….

HOWEVER, WE NEED YOU!!  We currently have only 2 airplanes right now signed up and still need room for 3 more members/guests.   This is a Club event, and has been a lot of planning in the making.  In order to meet the discounted rate for tickets and also transportation, we need a minimum of at least 10 participants.

Please RSVP

Number attending:
Aircraft Model:
Tail Number:
Open Seats:

Should we not have that confirmation by Tuesday, June 9th, then we will have to cancel this event.

This is your Club, and we want members to participate to help share the cost, etc.  Moving forward, we will need RSVP confirmations or we will have to cancel events.  

Thank you!

Ashley Smith
Business Analyst, Aircraft Sales and Customer Service

Honda Aircraft Company

6420 Ballinger Road
Greensboro, NC 27410 USA
Phone: 336.554.8300,1644

Cell: 336.543.6861
Fax: 336-554-8310

Flight instructor and retired Somers Point shop teacher dies in plane crash

A trailblazing female industrial shop teacher in Somers Point who overcame a fear of heights to develop a second career in aviation was killed in a North Carolina plane crash Tuesday, her brother said.

Barbara Harris-Para, 69, had also worked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township and was a former president of the Mullica Township Board of Education.

She died when a plane her husband was piloting, their single-engine Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, crashed into woods during a landing attempt at Siler City Municipal Airport, North Carolina media outlets reported.

Frederick Para, 72, who suffered broken bones and other injuries in the crash, is hospitalized and was unaware Wednesday that his wife had died, Harris-Para’s brother Kenneth Harris said.

The couple, who were married for more than 30 years, lived in the Sweetwater section of Mullica Township before moving to North Carolina in 2006.

“She’s had a big, long career and I just wish I had half her energy,” said Harris, who lives in Arizona.

Harris-Para was a flight instructor and was once governor of the New Jersey/New York section of the Ninety-Nines, a women’s flying club founded by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

For her, aviation was not a childhood dream, but it turned into one later in life.

“She was always afraid of heights, believe it or not. She decided she would learn how to fly to overcome her fear of heights. Then she really got into it,” her brother said.

Over the next 30 years, she became a very experienced pilot and a flight instructor and, after retiring from teaching in 1998, she worked for the FAA as a Freedom of Information Act officer, he said.

Harris-Para was born in Massachusetts and lived in South Jersey most of her life.

Her Linked In profile says she graduated from Williamstown High School in 1963, a time when she was allowed to work in woodshop and metal shop only after school.

After college, she went on to teach those subjects and mechanical drawing to seventh- and eighth-graders in Somers Point for decades before retiring in 1998.

“When she was in high school back in the ’60s, they did not let females in shop classes. She joined a shop club, and I still have the bookcases she made in my home,” Kenneth Harris said. “She was always encouraging female students to learn how to use tools.”

Susan Dugan, now the principal of the Jordan Road School in Somers Point, taught across the hallway from Harris-Para’s class for about eight years.

“It was so good for the girls to see that it was not something that was gender-oriented,” she said. “The custodians used to go in there all the time and talk to her.”

“She was really a woman before her time, or maybe of the time,” Dugan said.

Harris-Para served on the Mullica Township Board of Education for nearly 18 years, including 10 as president.

She stepped down in 2006.

“We’re just deeply saddened that such a vibrant woman would be tragically lost, actually doing something she completely loved doing — flying,” said Barbara Rheault, Mullica Township Education Association president, who was nearby neighbors with Harris-Para in Sweetwater.

“She was a very well-respected and forward-thinking woman, extremely civic-minded, and she generally cared about the betterment of her community,” Rheault said.

A tribute to Harris-Para’s community involvement still exists in a popular photograph taken at the Mullica Township school in 2000.

Students, staff and teachers assembled in a back lot of the school to make a “2000” visible from the air.

A parent took the photo from an airplane.

And Harris-Para piloted that plane.

“That was a lasting tribute because we still have those pictures hanging in the school. And she flew the plane,” Rheault said.

Janet Kinsell, communications and training technician lead at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, described Harris-Para as “full of energy.”

“She truly had a wealth of knowledge and was willing to share her experiences and knowledge with everyone,” Kinsell said. “But it was her warmth and generous spirit that will be missed the most.”

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board was working with the FAA on the investigation.

An assistant manager at Siler City Municipal Airport told The News and Observer on Tuesday the Paras were trying to land following a flight for maintenance.

A low ceiling prevented the airplane from approaching the 5,000-foot runway from one side, so the pilot circled to land from the other way, Ben Marion told The News and Observer.

A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper told that the engine stalled and the plane had a loss of power at about 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The investigation into the crash is continuing.

Probable causes of fatal plane crashes can take a year or longer to determine.

Aviation sector spurs expansion of 105 jobs for Mohawk in Eden

Katie Arcieri Triad Business Journal
Mohawk Industries is expanding its Rockingham facility.

Mohawk Industries is expanding its Rockingham facility.

Demand for airline carpeting was a key driver of Mohawk Industries’ decision to expand in Rockingham County with 105 jobs and an $8 million investment over five years.

Darin Quesinberry, plant manager for the global flooring manufacturer, said the aviation carpeting business is expected to help “triple the output” of the Eden plant. The company will continue to make residential carpeting under the Karastan name.

“That will really put us back into the commercial carpet business, and for Mohawk, that includes an aviation business component,” Quesinberry said. “That will be a large part of what this expansion is.”

He said that the firm’s commercial carpeting business declined over the years, but that the expansion will “take us back up to the levels we were in 2007-2009.”

Quesinberry said the decision to expand in Eden was related to a consolidation of operations in South Carolina. He declined to provide specifics.

The 105 jobs that Mohawk is creating will add to a work force of more than 170 at the Eden plant.

Quesinberry said hiring for production workers will begin around late summer.