Bayou Aviation Inc. held its first Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday at the Harrison County Airport.
Stories and laughter filled the air as customers, pilots, trainees and the owners of Bayou Aviation came together to catch up and to show their appreciation to one another.
Established in 2006, Bayou Aviation Inc. was started by Billy Gee and his wife Lari Gee. Billy a retired pilot flew for 45 years before retiring. Ms. Gee, a licensed pilot and former flight attendant, grew up in the aviation business as her father was a pilot. Together the couple offers aircraft rental, pilot services, ground and flight instruction, aircraft maintenance and much more.
After being in the business for several years, both the Gee’s and their customers decided to create an annual event that would showcase their appreciation from both the owners and their customers.
“The idea for today is to thank all of our customers,” Ms. Gee said. “There were no airplanes on this airport and now a lot of our students who have learned how to fly have bought airplanes. Most all of the general aviation airplanes on this airport now came from our customers learning to fly and then buying airplanes.”
The business, which trains local pilots from Marshall, Carthage, Longview and Shreveport, was created in memory of Gee’s son who died in an airplane accident in 2003.
It was difficult for customers to fly in for the event on the cold and cloudy day, but Alan Gee, Billy’s younger brother said that, “In this business, it’s hard to get everyone in one spot.”
Customers flew in from Carthage for burgers, hot dogs, baked beans and more. Gee plans to make this a yearly event.
In an office filled with flight memorabilia and other active and retired pilots, he reflected on the flights that he had that carried emus, Walt Disney film crews and horses.
“One of the most complex trips we’ve made was when we went to Morocco when we picked up the Walt Disney crew for ‘Hidalgo,’” Gee said. “I picked up the film crew, I picked up the horses, I picked up the rabbits and a lot of the handlers and I flew them out of Morocco back to New York.”
The airport also has a full maintenance team which they take pride in especially in a time where a lack of proper maintenance with American Airlines has made headlines.
“That’s just poor craftsmanship,” Alan said. “They (millennial) get paid too much and work less.”
Cliff Todd, Gee’s first student to get his private pilot license from Bayou Aviation, was also in attendance to thank the Gee’s for their support and encourage people of all ages to learn how to fly.
“If a student wants to learn to fly, I’d urge them to call Bayou Aviation and come in and visit with Billy and he can talk to them about cost requirements,” Todd said. “He’ll make it affordable and show several different ways to get their license.”
Source: Naomi Prioleaunprioleau@marshallnewsmessenger.com