Water Valley president Martin Lind needs to get from here to there, he calls
on his team of pilots to gas up the KingAir turboprop hangared at Fort
Collins/Loveland Airport and hit the skies.
KingAir can leave Windsor in the morning, be on the West Coast within hours
and have its passengers home by dinnertime.
long security lines, no wasted time waiting at the airport and an easy drive
home after a long day at their office in the sky.
an increasingly popular way for corporate executives to take care of
National Business Aviation Association, a nonprofit group that
"represents companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help
make their businesses more efficient," has 8,000 members, according to
its Web site, www.nbaa.org.
times a month, you'll find Craig Fitzsimmons, a 47-year-old former crop
duster, at the controls of the nine-seat luxury aircraft Lind owns with two
a familiar place for Fitzsimmons, who's been flying since he was a teenager
growing up on a farm in Windsor.
rural roots and an interest in flying, Fitzsimmons naturally gravitated
toward crop dusting and an undergraduate program at the University of
Southern Colorado in Pueblo, now Colorado State University-Pueblo.
years into his crop-dusting studies, USC dropped the program.
finished his degree in biology but never lost interest in flying.
regularly fly home on the weekends "to get in my hours." Talk about
a way to impress your friends.
college, Fitzsimmons hired on with a crop-dusting company in Greeley,
spraying area crops from April through September.
the end of the crop-dusting season, Fitzsimmons continued working on his instructor
and multiengine ratings. So, when ConAgra Foods needed a corporate pilot,
Fitzsimmons stood ready.
got into flying because I thought it would be neat to learn how to fly,"
said Fitzsimmons, who also spearheads Lind's airpark proposal adjacent to the
Fort Collins/Loveland Airport.
the next 20 years, Fitzsimmons was on call 24/7 ready to fly ConAgra execs
wherever they needed to go on aircraft ranging from Citations to Leer jets to
a Falcon 50, with a 3,000-mile flight range.
ConAgra Foods wanted to move Fitzsimmons from California to Omaha, Neb.,
Fitzsimmons decided instead to come home and hook up with his old friend
Lind, a buddy from high school with whom he had stayed in touch.
he's one of three pilots who shuttle Lind or Water Valley executives around
is now one of only a few dozen pilots in the U.S. who are certified aviation
managers, a program developed in 2003 by the National Business Aviation
Association for people interested in managing a flight department.
a rigorous program that took Fitzsimmons 10 years to achieve but which
certifies he is qualified to manage every aspect of a flight department, from
managing a hangar to flight crews.
a very good job," Fitzsimmons said. "It's not like work at all. It
has its own challenges, but it's rewarding.
a sense of power in knowing that you are the one making the airplane go where
it needs to go, said Fitzsimmons, who hopes to introduce his own children to
the joys of flying.
people do it for a living, others fly just for the joy of it," he said.
flies for both.
is a sense of pride knowing that you can make the airplane go from point A to
point B that's different than getting in your car.
a challenge to do the best job you can, have fun at it and get places you
want to do quicker," Fitzsimmons said.
all these years, it's still like Christmas every day."
can ask for more than that out of their work?