Finding a New Home

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Vernon Aviation business manager James Pera says when people hear the words “private jet,” they automatically assume it’s not within reach financially. They’re wrong, he says. “Once educated, our clients are pleasantly surprised to find out that there are various price points, aircraft and options for all budgets,” Pera says. “The business owners are pleased when they find out it can be a tax write off.” Vernon Aviation set the stage for a competitive private jet market when it opened its base of operations at Scottsdale Airpark this fall. It flies an eight-passenger, Pilatus PC-12 turboprop aircraft. “We are extremely excited to expand our business and have a new home in Scottsdale,” Pera says. “Scottsdale is a true destination and plays host to some of the largest and most prestigious events in the country. The demand is high for both business and leisure travelers that are seeking privacy, convenience and a schedule that they control. The airplanes that we operate are luxurious, comfortable and, most important, cost effective. We fill a niche for flights that are typically one to three hours of flight time in the immediate surrounding western states.” For travel needs where the PC-12 isn’t the best option due to passenger and range requirements, Vernon Aviation also offers brokerage solutions through its worldwide network of qualified aircraft operators. “If somebody comes to us and, for example, needs to transport 15 people nonstop to New York, we can accommodate that,” he says. “We can accommodate flights to Hawaii and other destinations. It’s about utilizing different aircraft that are obviously safe and appropriate for that particular flight.” Vernon Aviation’s aircraft are operated out of Ross Aviation, a premier FBO. “It’s so nice,” Pera says. “You drive your car right out to the airplane. There’s somebody there to greet you. Your trip sheets been put together.” New endeavor Vernon Aviation was started in Farmington, New Mexico, by brothers George W. Riley III and Gary Riley. The two also own Riley Industrial Services Inc., an industrial contracting company, along with their father Sonny Riley and brother Glen Riley. “They’re actually celebrating their 50th anniversary,” Pera says. “They built that business from scratch and now they have satellite locations all over the world. “They’ve just been truly amazing people to work with. The fact that they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary, I think, carries very well over to Vernon Aviation and the values and services we extend to our clients.” The family chose Scottsdale because it’s an “exciting” market. “There’s just so much happening here, to be honest,” he says. “It’s a great location. It’s central to the western states but, in truth, it hosts some of the largest events in the country.” The organization focuses on the immediate western region like Napa, Sedona and San Diego. The flights are custom tailored to the passengers. “If someone has a sweet tooth, we put Mr. Nelson’s cookies on the airplane,” he says. “If there’s a request for certain beverages or what have you, then we make sure the airplane is always stocked. The experience is truly tailored to their expectations. “We get to know our clients—their likes and dislikes. I know it helps put people’s minds at ease.” Vernon Aviation’s goals are to expand its fleet and destinations. “We’re looking at additional aircraft at this moment, and so next year we’ll have more airplanes out here,” Pera says. “It’s really about striking a balance between the leisure clients and the business travelers. “We go out and develop relationships with business owners and business travelers who are flying to regular destinations weekly. At the same time, we’re really excited to develop relationships with the resorts and surrounding destinations. The goal is we like to go above and beyond. We’re hearing some very creative ideas at the moment and we’re entertaining them. We want to create experiences for people.” Experiences that are within reach. Pera says the pricing is competitive, especially considering customers do not need to arrive several hours before the flight. Vernon Aviation also doesn’t charge a membership fee. “It’s a different price than, say, what you’re going to see with Southwest Airlines,” he says. “But the bottom line is they should fear exploring it. “There are different airplanes and different price points to basically accommodate any budget. We’re not a hard sell. We don’t bug our customers. It’s about building custom-tailored relationships.” Vernon Aviation 14700 N. Airport Drive,
Suites 201-202, Scottsdale,

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