By: Tom Fink | Category: Education | Issue: September 2018
This photo was taken from the cockpit while flying over the Bahamas.
When husband and wife Casey and Cristi Trammell went into business for themselves, the sky was the limit.
As owners of Tulsa Aviation Group, aka TAG, the Trammells help provide training for aspiring pilots of all ages, lease aircraft to licensed pilots, and help those with an interest in learning how to fly to achieve their dreams of the sky -- not unlike the Trammells themselves.
“Back in 2013, I bought Casey an introductory flight for his birthday,” recalled Cristi. “He used to fly remote control airplanes -- we have a lot in our garage, and I thought ‘You know, if he loves his RC planes, he’ll love the real thing’, so I blindfolded him, took him to the airport and he had his first real flight.”
“Believe it or not, I have a fear of heights,” laughed Casey, “but I had such a good time on my introductory flight, I knew I wanted to get back up in the air -- to learn how to fly a plane myself. I thought ‘I can do this,’ so I trained to get my own pilot’s license -- that was from September through December, and not long after I finished training, we bought our first plane, and we went into business for ourselves.”
Although neither of the Trammells had a background in aviation -- Crisit’s background was in the dental industry and Casey’s was involved in his family digital protractor business -- both felt they could share their passion with others, offering students the opportunity to experience the thrill of flying for themselves.
“Casey has his private pilot’s license, but as far as the training goes, we hire instructors -- most often from the Tulsa or Tulsa metro area -- who do the training,” Cristi said. “What we basically do is own the business, own the planes, and contract out the instructors who work one-on-one with the students.”
Based out of Claremore Regional Airport, Tulsa Aviation Group differs from other pilot training schools in that the Trammell have written their own course syllabus which allows students to “go at their own pace.”
“As far as getting your license goes, if you fly three to four times a week, you can finish the course in about three or four months,” Cristi said. “There’s a minimum requirement of 40 flight hours to get your pilot’s license, but really, the time commitment is an ‘as you go’ thing. We try to taylor the time requirements to the individual students so that it’s easier for them to work around. Students can start at any time, at any age, and any hours they spend in the air goes towards their 40 hours.”
“We get a lot of young people who have a passion for flying, even at a young age, but by the same token, we get several people in who may be somewhere in middle age, who are looking for something different to do for themselves, or have always wanted to fly a plane on their own but never thought they could get the necessary training until they heard about us,” she said. “Sometimes, they’ll enjoy it so much that they’ll go on to get their airline transport pilot’s license and move on to fly the big planes -- 747s, Boeings, and planes like those.
Recently, the Trammells took several students to what they hope to be an annual TAG trip to the Bahamas -- something which, without the students getting their pilot’s training from the school, would not have been possible for many.
“The Bahamas trip was amazing -- we were so proud of the students, and it was something we’d like to do regularly,” Cristi said.
As a family-owned business, Cristi said Tulsa Aviation Group differs from other pilot training schools with the individualized attention afforded its students.
“Something I hear a lot from our students is that they appreciate not only the training they get from TAG, but the attention we give them,” she said. “If they call us, they know I’ll answer the phone, if they have a question, they know that they can come to us for an answer. When a potential student comes to us, one thing we do is sit down with them and talk to them about what they’re wanting from the class, what their goals are, what they’re hoping to achieve by taking the class. We want to help them find the path that’s right for them. Both Casey and I care about all of our students -- we want to help them follow their passion, the way that we did when we opened TAG. Even if they don’t come to our school, we want to help them find the path that’s best for them. They know that if they come to us, they’ll not only get exceptional training, but exceptionally individualized attention.”
Casey echoed his wife’s sentiments.
“We’re definitely here to help train pilots but we also take a personal interest in them, in their lives.
“If anyone’s ever thought about flying a plane or would even want to know what it’s like to go up in one, we’d be happy to have them come talk to us about an introductory flight,” Cristi said. “A person may not know how much they love flying until they’re actually up in the air -- that’s what we’re here for: to help them realize their dreams or passion when it comes to flying and to give them the training needed to be a pilot.”
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