Whether it's an older model that a hobbyist is restoring on the weekends or a fleet of aircraft used by a business in Asia, SouthWind Global Aviation provides services to modify, transport and fly airplanes.
Terry Landon, president of SouthWind Global Aviation, fell in love with flying when he was young.
"When I was little, the Vietnam War was on TV all the time. When I saw those jets go screaming across the TV, I thought, 'I've got to do that,'" Landon recalled. "After school, I'd go to the airport there in Hutchinson and press my face up against the fence and just watch airplanes go all over the place."
Scrimped and saving to take flying lessons, Landon eventually earned his private pilot's license and worked for the Hutchinson and McPherson airports. He went on to become a corporate pilot, then trained pilots at FlightSafety International.
Landon met Tyson Teeter when both men went to work for Cessna as sales demonstration pilots. They were laid off the same day in 2009, but occasionally still flew airplanes together to make international deliveries for Cessna.
"From doing that, we realized we could do our own business without Textron's big umbrella," Landon said.
Looking to stay in Kansas, Landon and Teeter purchased SouthWind Global Aviation in Moundridge in 2012.
One of the company's services is supplying Poly Fiber Aircraft Coatings, a fabric covering for older airplanes, which can be purchased to match the dimensions and colors a customer requests.
"We have every color you could possibly ever want, and it's not just for the older airplanes, but we have some metal paint for new airplanes," Landon said. "We could supply refurb equipment for any airplane from about 1920 up to current day."
SouthWind Global Aviation provides space to house airplanes in their hangers in Moundridge, Wichita and Salina.
"As a general indication of the economy coming around, we're seeing people looking for hangar space because they're buying airplanes and they don't want their airplane sitting outside," Landon said.
Custom modifications to airplanes, such as auxiliary fuel cell or air conditioning installation, engine modifications, speed enhancements, cargo pods or increased weight kits, can be done by SouthWind Global Aviation, which also has experience in adding photo or medical platforms to airplanes.
"Everything that's built in Wichita, we can service," Landon said.
With knowledge of many types, SouthWind Global Aviation often accepts airplanes from manufacturers for international customers, checking them over to make sure they are in good working order before flying it to the customer.
"We take care of all the paperwork for all the countries we're going to fly over and land in," Landon noted. "We have three people that primarily do all of that."
It can be more cost-effective for international customers to have airplanes shipped rather than flown. In those cases, the airplane is disassembled and placed into wooden crates. The crate is then shipped to the customer, who can choose to have SouthWind reassemble it or have it done by another company.
"The crates are custom-built for a particular model and also for the number of airplanes in the shipment. Sometimes we put just one airplane in a box, sometimes we can fit two or three," Landon said.
Several hundred pictures are taken during the disassembly process as the wings, propeller and landing gear are taken off to record the airplane's status and assist in reassembly.
"We have never had damage to an airplane that we've delivered," Landon said. "We believe to go beyond what's expected to make sure there's not a problem at all."
If the customer chooses to have the airplane flown to them, the aircraft is tracked as it makes its way around the globe.
"We're in constant communication with the crew," Landon noted.
For companies looking to buy an airplane, SouthWind Global Aviation offers consulting services to advise on which model would best suit their needs.
"Several times, we've helped start up a flight department for companies that were moving into their first jet airplane or first turbo-prop," Landon said. "We can show people the features, benefits and limitations of the airplane."
Pilots can be screened, contracted and trained through SouthWind Global Aviation as well.
"We're very blessed to see general aviation coming back. That's a great thing for this part of the country, because, obviously, as aviation grows, so does Wichita and so do the outlying communities," Landon said. "We've been very blessed in the business activity and the relationships we've made along the way."
For more information about SouthWind Global Aviation, visit https://southwindglobal.com or call 620-242-1800.