With all the uproar over corporate excess in a tanking economy (including first-class travel and corporate jets), Denise Wilson wants people to know about “the generosity that quietly occurs in business aviation.” The president and founder of Desert Jet in La Quinta points to Angel Flight, Corporate Angel Network, PilotsNPaws, and Special Olympics Airlift as a few examples of how pilots volunteer their time and skills.
Desert Jet’s own Citation V has participated in numerous Special Olympics airlifts, flying athletes free of charge. And Wilson plans to use the unused legs of charter flights to fly patients needing medical treatment that requires distant travel and pets that are rescued and need transportation to new homes. “We feel this is a great way for our clients to be able to use business aviation for their personal or business travel and at the same time support these great charities that need air transportation to fulfill their own missions,” says Wilson, who was a pilot for Aloha Airlines and then chief pilot for a large charter company in Orange County before relocating to La Quinta to start Desert Jet in 2006.
In February, Wilson passed the Certified Aviation Manager Exam. Of more than 8,000 companies represented by the National Business Aviation Association, only about 100 individuals have passed the exam. Desert Jet, which has two aircraft and four pilots on staff, not only provides charter flights, but also aircraft management and consultation services.
According to Wilson, business executives are moving from fractional jet ownership and jet cards to on-demand charter services that provide luxury at a reduced cost.
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