Monday, October 28, 2019

Fred was a great guy and we did quite a few deals together.  I am not liking posting all of these obituaries but hopefully it will help us hold onto their memories a little longer.

Obituary of Lindell Fred Shrum II

Shrum II, Lindell F. “Fred”, 75, of Tampa, FL passed away on October 9, 2019. 
Fred was born in Dixon, IL, and spent most of his life in the Arlington, Virginia-Washington DC Metro area. 
Fred was married to Barbara Lyle in 1978 and remained married for 41 years. 
A Vietnam veteran, Fred served in the Navy on the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Bonne Homme Richard. After an honorable discharge, he graduated pilot school and was a pilot for many years. He first flew propeller planes and witnessed the rise of jet age. His favorite planes were the F-27 and Learjet. He went on to own many aviation companies such as East Coast Airways, North American Aircraft, North American Jet Sales and Crown Aviation. Fred was also the Treasurer of Ernie Haire Ford in Tampa. 
Fred enjoyed world travel, boats, trains, cars, history, books, baseball, the Redskins and all things aviation. 
Fred was preceded in death by father Lindell, a 1st Lt and WWII veteran in the Air Force, mother Nadine, and brother Tighe.
Fred is survived by his wife Barbara, brother Jon Terry (Bobbie), children Susan, Sandra (Derric), Fred III (Melissa), Patricia, Robert, and grandsons Robert and Freddy IV. 
Fred leaves behind many other family and friends in the aviation and car business. He cared for them all. 
Fred will be buried with full military honors at Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell, FL 33513.  The ceremony will take place on Saturday, November 9 at 10:15am.  Phone is (352) 793-7740.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Johnny Gantt Rest in Peace

Johnny Gantt (May 2, 1936 – May 14, 2019) was preceded in death by his mother, Mildred Ford Gantt, his father James Edward Gantt, his sister Mary Gantt Taylor, and his brother, George Gantt. He is survived by his wife of nearly 57 years, Eura Mae (Reid), his daughter Melanie Gantt Rivera and her husband Julian Rivera, his son Johnny (Jay) Gantt, Jr., and his wife, Amy Gantt, grandchildren Johnny Bob Gantt, III, Leslie Lauren Gantt, Caroline Elizabeth Gantt, Liliana Rose Rivera, Lola Grace Rivera, his sister Deena Gantt, and numerous nieces and nephews. In lieu of a funeral service, the family is planning a Celebration of Life in a place he built to do just that: celebrate life.

It should be noted that when someone lives a life as full as Johnny Gantt’s, perhaps some stories have been slightly inflated. Modestly overblown. Mildly accentuated. Forgive us our ability to willfully ignore corrections to minor details. We know he walked two miles to school uphill both ways, until he started flying there instead. What’s not to believe? When you have such a storied life as Johnny’s, own it, revel in it, raise a glass of wine and praise it.

That is what Johnny would do.

Johnny’s roadmap for his life: Spend as many hours as possible with your shirt off while piloting big boats around Lake Travis, through the Florida Keys, and among the San Juan Islands. Soar through the clouds in beautiful airplanes, unhindered by pesky traffic regulations or opinionated backseat drivers. Build it and they will come … create a backyard poolside oasis to gather your friends and loved ones close. Frequent Fixed Base Operations all over the world, but miss a trip to the Egyptian pyramids because a sales deal at the Cairo airport was not yet complete. See the world from 30,000 feet, sitting in the cockpit of a King Air, a Cessna, a Diamond Mitsubishi; a Lear jet, Piper Cub, Mooney or Bellanca. 

Eighty-three years ago Johnny Bob Gantt came into this world, took its measure, and got busy. Born at home to James Edward and Mildred Gantt in Sweetwater, TX, Johnny started building his own unique path early. At the age of nine he started tinkering with an old Army surplus jeep until he got it running. When he was 10 years old, his family had a kitchen fire, and his older sister Mary was told to run to the neighbor’s house for help. Half-way into her mile-long run, Johnny passed her in his Jeep, hands above his head on the steering wheel, barely seeing over the dashboard, racing to get help.

​In high school, a pilot came one day to talk to the students about careers in the flight industry. Johnny and his friend Bobby decided to go see what this was about and went to the local airport in Plainview, Tx. While looking at the airplanes, the owner of the FBO, James Miller, offered to give these boys a ride for free. Johnny was hooked. Another visit to the airport a few weeks later led him to purchase a J3 cub aircraft on an installment plan, which came with five free flying lessons from Mr. Miller, enough to solo. Still being in high school, he determined it was better to ask forgiveness than permission from his mother to make that airplane purchase, using money he earned working nights at the cotton gin. After his lessons, because he couldn’t afford the $5 parking fee at the airport, he decided to take the plane home and land it in the field behind their house. On his way to school that morning, he told his mother he had purchased an airplane and would be flying it home that afternoon, then he quickly scrambled away in his old Jeep while she was still speechless. When he approached the field that afternoon, he witnessed from the cockpit something strange scurrying around in the dirt below him. It was his mother running around waving a dishtowel over her head, making sure he could not land that airplane. She did eventually relent and let him bring it home, and that was the start of his life’s passion.

​After high school, at age 19, he became a civilian flight instructor at the Gary Air Base in San Marcos, TX, giving basic and instrument training to officers. At age 23 he partnered with James Miller, his flight instructor, to co-own Miller Flying Service at the same Plainview airport that started it all. Johnny procured the Mooney distributorship, and over the next 10 years grew the company to over 50 employees, adding a paint, interior and maintenance shop along the way.
​In quick succession, Johnny met his wife-to-be, Eura Mae Reid, in 1961, and married her in 1962. His daughter, Melanie Gantt (Rivera), was born in 1964, followed by son Johnny Bob, Jr. (Jay) in 1968.

​In 1972, he sold his interest in Miller Flying Service back to James Miller and moved his young family to Austin, TX, then a few years later made the permanent move to Georgetown. Along the way, Johnny made the bold decision to develop an industry that really didn’t exist at that point – selling business aircraft in a resale market. He initially specialized in twin-engine Cessna aircraft, then quickly added turbine planes to his sales fleet. He sold his first King Air 200 in 1975 and that model would prove to be a mainstay of his company, Gantt Aviation. In 1977 he built the first of two 20,000 square foot hangers at the Georgetown Airport at the request of the City of Georgetown, in an attempt to have the airport become a profitable industry for the city. With the inception of Gantt Aviation, Johnny began growing his company, and indeed, the industry, into national and international markets.

​He never gave up his passion for flying. Johnny logged more than 25,000 flight hours, obtaining type ratings in Lear, Citation, Hawker, Diamond, Beech Jet, King Air and many others. Not to be bound by traditional flying, he also added several regional Champion titles from the US Acrobatic Club competitions to his accomplishments.

​Without the benefit of the internet, Johnny and his business partner, Larry Wood, established a research and sales team to find airplanes for sale from around the world. Some called him a shrewd negotiator. Whether that was true on any individual deal, or not, he developed a reputation of a trusted dealer of quality airplanes. Being a true salesman, he never owned a plane that wasn’t “For Sale”, and like his purchasing market, the customers who bought those planes also came from around the globe.

​In 1989, Johnny co-founded the National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA), which was recently re-branded to the International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA). NARA (now IADA) is the largest and most influential organization of aircraft brokers and dealers in the world. The impetus of NARA was to establish a code of ethics among airplane resale dealers. Gantt Aviation is known worldwide as an honest and upstanding dealer in the airplane resale market, a distinction Johnny was very proud of.

​In addition to airplanes, Johnny was passionate about boats, bicycles and family. He enjoyed few things more than piloting his Bluewater Yacht around Lake Travis or having it ferried across land so he could cruise the Florida Keys with his family. Bicycling became a passion later in life, exemplified by his decision to ask a group of friends to one year take a birthday ride with him to equal his age in the miles they travelled. That year he was 68. For the next eight years he expanded the riders who joined him on the road, while increasing the mileage by a mile per year. The last rides included over 50 riders and the party spanned a full weekend. Johnny always knew how to have a good time and to bring all of his friends along for the ride.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

WELSCH - James C., Jr., of Huntington, formerly of Great Neck, NY, died Friday, January 20, 2017. Mr. Welsch was president of Welsch Aviation in Huntington, a firm founded by his father in 1949. Jim built upon the corporate legacy of his father by growing Welsch Aviation's private and corporate aircraft business. He expanded the reach of Welsch Aviation to include offices across the United States. Jim led Welsch Aviation into the jet age thereby extending the firm's record as the oldest established active aircraft sales and acquisition organization in the world.James C. Welsch, Jr. was born in Cincinnati, OH on October 12, 1935 to James, Sr. and the former Effie Mae Bowser. The senior Mr. Welsch, a pioneer of aviation, and his wife welcomed their new son into their family and three months later took him up in an open cockpit, single engine bi-plane for his maiden voyage in the skies. After graduating from Hofstra University Jim married Gail A. Samuelson of Great Neck. Soon afterwards he began his active duty service as a volunteer in the Army. He joined his father's aircraft firm at the end of active duty, a move he said, "was good fortune, the right place at the right time." As often as possible, Jim and Gail could be found out east at their home in East Hampton, where the family could relax with good friends, host an annual summer gathering and enjoy the water. Though Jim was passionate about work and at times was on the phone, or drafting notes about a business deal, when he could've been relaxing. But he always brought it back to sitting down to a good drink on the deck, a few laughs and a meal with the people he cared for dearly. Mr. Welsch is survived by Gail, his wife of 58 years, his daughter Kristin and her husband Matthew of Amagansett, NY, daughter Leslie of Huntington, NY and his two beloved grandchildren, Kate and Kamden. In lieu of flowers donations to the Little Shelter Animal Rescue, Post Box 1805, Huntington, NY 11743 or The American Heart Association would be appreciated.
Published in Newsday on Jan. 26, 2017

Rick Pitts

This post is addressed to my Aviation community of friends and possibly some of my personal friends whom have not heard from me for some time now:

As of March 1, 2015, I have gone back to work at Jack Prewitt & Associates, Inc.

As of January 26, 2017 I am still here.

Same contact info as always.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

William Ralph Emery "Ralphie"

Published: August 13, 2015

William Ralph Emery, age 73, of Rogers, passed away on Friday, August 7, 2015. Ralph was born on November 5, 1941 in Dallas, Texas. He attended school at SMU and served in the military. For nearly 30 years he was the loving husband of Kim Emery; he is also survived by his children, Kevin Emery, Lisa Roe, Neldalourene and Jason Fox, Mary and Clay Simpson, Whitney and Wesley Hunt; his four grandchildren, Haley Roe, Stella and Eden Fox, Weston Hunt and by his three brothers, Richard, Bob and Joe Emery.
Ralph was a pioneer in the early VIP and corporate aircraft completion industry, starting with his father at Executive Aircraft Services in Dallas. He and his brother Richard founded K.C. Aviation and later Ralph served as Executive Vice President with Jack Prewitt and Associates. He and his wife Kim then formed Aviation Concepts, becoming a premier aircraft design, consulting and acquisition company serving heads of state, royalty and Fortune 500 companies. Ralph also worked with the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce and was a highly sought after aviation legal advisor.
Ralph and Kim recently retired and moved to their home in Rogers, Arkansas where home cooked meals and his favorite desserts were served daily. He celebrated life with family and friends while he enjoyed golfing, music and his favorite slot machines. He was lucky in life and lucky in love. Ralph was a great husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and brother and a loving caring man who helped many over his lifetime.
The family suggests memorial contributions to: My Destiny Foundation Inc, 62 State Road, North Dartmouth, Mass. 02747. will be Friday, August 14 from 10:00-11:30 am and the Funeral Service will be at 11:30 am at Hunt Chapel, 5930 Wallis Road, Rogers, Arkansas with interment to follow. Arrangements are under the care of Rollins Funeral Home in Rogers. Condolences may be expressed at
Ralph had an on time departure. He kicked the tires, lit the fires and landed safely at the Pearly Gates.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aircraft Sales in the 70's and 80's

Below is a reprint of a 1982-83 Wall Street Journal article written about Don Love Aircraft Sales in Wichita, Kansas.

Top Cessna Salesman Becomes The Object of Hate-Love Affair

Don Love of Kansas Gambles On Jet Delivery Positions, Draws Flak of Producer

Reprinted In entirety from WALL STREET JOURNAL. By Neil Maxwell

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL  (1983)

    Don Love sees himself as a gambler but not a high roller. "If I lose $5,000in a night, I quit," he says. But his job involves unquestionably high stakes and enough anxiety to make a poker player switch to solitaire.

    Mr. Love, a dapper 57-year-old Kansan who is addicted to cowboy clothes and expensive cars, deals in corporate jet aircraft built by Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, Kan., where Don Love Aircraft Sales Inc. is also located.

    He says he has sold about 100 new or used Citation jets, about 10% of the total built, although he doesn't work for Cessna. He even has a letter of commendation from the company proclaiming him its all-time best salesman - at a time when he worked for a Cessna dealer.

    So how does the factory feel about Mr. Love? It is a definite hate-Love relation- ship, spelled out clearly in a letter from J. Derek Vaughan, senior vice president of the Citation marketing division, warning Mr. Love to "keep off Cessna property at all times and until further notice." That was in 1978, and Mr. Love says further notice still doesn't appear to be imminent.

Cessna's Position

Mr. Love, in effect, competes with Cessna in sales of its planes. He buys delivery positions on inbuilt Citation jets and later resells the positions at a profit to buyers who want to avoid the long wait for a plane (more than three years for a Citation III ordered today) and the higher pries posted by Cessna in the meantime.

    Two things have to happen to make his gamble work: Delivery times have to remain long, and pries have to keep rising. So far, the System has paid off like loaded dice. Mr. Love says he has held delivery positions on 38 Citation jets and made money on every one - except maybe the last, and he expects he is breaking even on that one.

      The reason he may have problems on his latest deal is that with some models supply is catching up with demand, and price increases aren't as steep. In the past, Mr. Love says, Cessna has raised prices "unmercifully." He adds that the Citation II nearly doubled in price in four years. "That's not inflation, that's greed," he says.

    Now he thinks the days of profitable speculation on earlier-model jets may be ending, but the new Citation III promises to be another big-pot winner for Mr. Love, at least at first. The Citation III hasn't yet been certified for production by the Federal Aviation Agency, but 150 buyers have already signed up for deliveries starting in December.

    Among the early order placers, unbeknownst to the factory, which refuses to sell him planes, is Don Love. He has about $350,000 tied up so far in advance payments on a Citation III. He hopes to clear a personal record of $800,000 by selling his place on the waiting list to an impatient corporate buyer - or actually take delivery and resell the plane at a profit.

    The profit won't be ail his in this instance, because he has had to use partners to place his orders since Cessna stopped letting him buy its aircraft. "They thought they could cut me off, but they just made me go underground. Now I'm the silent partner in what they think is a legitimate purchase," Mr. Love says.

    Mr. Love is particularly piqued at Cessna's cutting him off, because he insists (but the factory denies) that it was Cessna's idea for him to buy and resell places on the delivery list in the first place, back at a time when early Citations hadn't caught on.

    "They came to me and said 1 could double my money by buying early-delivery positions on the Citation I," Mr. Love says. "For them, it was a great way to get sales moving. It's a tremendous advantage for a factory to be sold out a year or two in advance. You can get your subcontractors lined up, you can negotiate for prices, you can predict costs. And your customers aren't buying an airplane from somebody else."

      But when they saw how well he was doing, Mr. Love says, "They tried to cut me off. They thought they were losing control of their marketing, and they were."

    Cessna agrees that its decision not to sell any more aircraft to Mr. Love "has to do with marketing." The company says, "He puts down $100,000, and if he can turn it, he makes a lot of money. If he doesn't, we have an airplane sitting on the ramp. Those delivery positions turn into metal airplanes, and if there isn't a buyer, there's a problem."

    The company adds that its practice now is to try to ascertain that delivery positions are taken by bona fide final users instead of middlemen. Most other aircraft makers similarly try to discourage speculation in their aircraft.

    Mr. Love isn't the only one speculating in aircraft-delivery positions. Doctors and other individual and corporate investors have tried to get in on the gamble to such an extent that some industry observers predict a marketing shakeout when buyers can't be found and the speculators can't take delivery of the finished aircraft.

    Mr. Love sees other reasons for Cessna to try to squeeze him out. "It was very destructive for the marketing people to know that 1 had a Citation for sale for less than their customers could order one from the factory," he says.

Different Styles

Mr. Love thinks his flamboyant ways were part of the problem, too. Cessna is a coat-and-tie company, he says, and "they didn't like to see me show up out there wearing jeans and driving my Excalibur" when he would go along with a customer to accept delivery of a plane.

    But whatever the reasons, the attempt to make Mr. Love stop buying Cessna airplanes didn't work. "They thought they were going to stop me, but what they did was just motivate the hell out of me," he says, sipping a Chivas at a Houston hotel bar while he waits for an aircraft sale to jell.

    The motivation is easy to understand, because the stakes are high, and so are Mr. Love's costs of living, what with a second house at the Grand Lake  of  the Cherokees in Oklahoma, life at a local country club and his car, currently a Lamborghini Espada. But beyond ail that, he feels he has a wager to settle with Cessna, and he is dog-determined to win.

    He got into this business in 1975, when he bought out a partner in his used- aircraft business. He got a bank in Clinton, Iowa, to go into a partnership with him to buy $2 million in used aircraft from Cessna, which was getting out of the used-plane business.

Bread and Butter

But the speculation in delivery positions soon became his bread and butter. And he sees no reason for that to change, despite Cessna's objections. What's important is the length of the waiting list, which remains long for the Citation III, and price increases, which continue to be hefty. The Citation III started selling in 1977 for $3.9 million, but four price increases have brought the current price to $5.2 million plus escalators to compensate for inflation, so that the actual price isn't determined until about six months before delivery.

    Sometimes the spreads are great enough to allow Mr. Love to wheel and deal on the spot and be assured of coming out ahead. For instance, he was calling Kansas from an airport in Munich, Germany, one time, when someone over- heard him and asked whether he worked for Cessna. It turned out to be a pilot whose boss had two Citation jets on order but decided to substitute a Learjet for one of them and thus had a Cessna delivery position he didn't want.

    Mr. Love quickly offered $50,000 for the position, which was accepted. He caught the next plane for Kansas to get the money, caught the next back to Munich to deliver the check and sign the papers, and shortly resold the delivery spot for an additional $50,000.

    Another easy-money deal came along when Mr. Love learned that a unit of Texas Eastern Corp. wanted a Cessna jet in a hurry, and he knew that Ryan Aviation in Wichita had one coming up for delivery that it didn't really need.

    Because of price increases, he was able to make early delivery of the jet to Texas Eastern for the same amount as the one the company would have had to wait for and split a difference of$ 100,000 between himself and Ryan.

Happy Customers

    His customers  are  pleased  with   the relationship, it seems, even if Cessna isn't. Texas Eastern says it is happy about its transaction, and Roy Ryan of Ryan Aviation says that in a business that has some unsavory practitioners, Mr. Love flies above that crowd. "I don't know of anybody he's sold an airplane to that says he lied to them or cheated them."

    Sometimes Mr. Love helps to bail out plane buyers who can't come up with the purchase price. On one occasion, he heard about a doctor on the West Coast who couldn't afford to take delivery of a Citation jet. He made a quick deal to sell the plane to singer Wayne Newton  for a modest profit. "I think I made $10,000 and the doctor made $ 10,000.00," he recalls.

    But timing is always important. "You sell your spot too quick and you lose profit; you hang on too long and the economy could turn sour or you can't find a buyer in time," he says. The state of the economy posed a problem with his latest deal, involving a Citation II on which he and his cover-up partners had to take delivery. He sold it recently but had to take a trade-in he didn't want, and he won't know until he resells that plane if he has made or lost money on the transaction.

  Don and Barbara Love tour the Excalibur plant in Milwaukee, where Barbara chose her very own Series III Excalibur.

  Editor's note:

    Barbara Love was on a business trip in California when she recalls seeing an Excalibur for the first time. "That's the kind of car I want," she told her husband, Don Love ... and that's the kind of car Barbara is driving today.

    It took a bit of searching before Barbara found out where she could buy one, but a year later, her dream came true in the form of a Series III Excalibur.

    When Barbara went to the bank to request a cashier's check to pay for her Phaeton, her banker asked what this money was going to buy. When she told him an Excalibur, he insisted on accompanying the Loves to the factory in Wisconsin to personally deliver the check ... and he did!  

    This Wichita couple is not new to the world of fine automobiles. Don is the owner of  a  Lamborghini  Espada,  and Barbara has owned and driven both Mercedes and Jaguars. They also own an Excalibur boat, made by our good friends and fellow Excalibur owners, Bill Farmer and Don Abel in Sarasota, Florida. "Everybody thinks we bought the boat to match the car. It is purely coincidental. I'm just afraid someone will pull the 454 engine from my Excalibur and put it in the boat, because we've been having some problems with the 454 engine in the boat. Believe me, there'd be no easier way to 'make a Love, hate'!"

    Being one of the few owners of an Excalibur in Wichita surely makes Barbara distinctive when she drives around. Forget- ting that she had "Barbara" written in script on both doors, she is often shocked when admirers give her the thumbs up sign and yell, "I like your car, Barbara!"

    Barbara likes her car, too. In fact, it was "Love" at first sight.