When Denise Wilson decided to parlay her passion for flying into a small business, even she underestimated the possibilities for her fledgling charter jet service company.
Today, as president and CEO of Desert Jet, she manages not only a charter service, but also aircraft maintenance and management. “I’ve started smaller side companies, like Desert Jet Maintenance,” Wilson says.
In the next five years, Wilson will focus on growing the charter service and expanding the maintenance business.
“There’s a common misconception that private jet travel is for the 1 percent,” she says. “It actually makes sense for a lot of businesses. For example, we fly some farmers from the Coachella Valley to the Central Valley — they’re there in an hour with no connections or waiting, and they have the whole day to work and come back.”
Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal sees more private and corporate jet flights than Palm Springs International Airport, and has enjoyed investments from Riverside County and the Federal Aviation Administration.
“I see a lot of possibilities here for the future,” says Wilson, who chose the Coachella Valley as her base for the lifestyle and the market. “I wanted a beautiful place to live. I never get on a freeway, and I don’t sit in traffic. And it’s the perfect place for travelers. Some of our clients have their second or third home here, and the private jet charter service is a simple way for them to conduct their private or businesses travel.
“This has been a very rewarding, fun, and passion-filled career for me.”