Flying Cloud Airport is a linchpin of the Eden Prairie community. It is the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s busiest reliever airport, where more than 130,000 takeoffs and landings take place each year. Despite receiving zero funding from local sales or property taxes, Flying Cloud generates over $220 million in economic output annually. Our airport currently supports nearly 1,200 jobs!
Flying Cloud is home to several fine local businesses. There is ASI Jet Center, which will supply you with a shiny new plane. There is AV8 Flight School, which will teach you how to make good use of your plane. There is also Premier Jet Center, which will ensure your plane remains in perfect working order. And if you would rather fly without having to concern yourself over plane ownership, operation and maintenance, then you need only engage Aviation Charter.
“Our four jets and six turbine-propeller aircraft are available for private flights 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Kirk Otteson, vice president and director of operations for Aviation Charter. Our charter flights are mostly business travel, and we bring quite a few passengers to Canada and the Dakotas for hunting trips as well. But charter flight is only about one-third of our business. For most of the people who depend on us, Aviation Charter is a real lifesaver.
“The majority of the work we do is for LifeSource, an Organ Procurement Organization that serves over seven million people throughout the Upper Midwest. If someone receives a transplant in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wisconsin, there is a very good chance their organ arrived on one of our planes. It is always an awe-inspiring feeling: to deliver a cooler that could contain a child’s new heart, or a cornea that will allow someone to see again.”
“There are no other airports around the Twin Cities that focus on the life-saving work we do,” said Shirley Wickner, CEO of Aviation Charter. “My late husband Roger’s intention wasn’t to specialize in organ delivery when he founded our company over 40 years ago. But thanks to Flying Cloud’s outstanding facilities and support, our service is reliable enough to perform so important a duty. The next time you hear the engines of a Beechjet 400 roar during the wee hours of the morning, that could be one of our pilots on their way to help save a life.”
Not all the lives saved by Flying Cloud’s pilots belong to people. If you ever spot Laura Herrmann’s Cessna 182 Skylane in the air, it just might contain a dog en route to their new home.
“I began volunteering for Pilots N Paws after receiving my pilot’s license 22 years ago,” said Laura. “The non-profit organization is essentially a forum, where animal rescues can connect with pilots to arrange transport for dogs in need of relocation to their forever homes. To date I have flown over 200 rescue dogs to their new foster families. It’s a rewarding way to combine my three greatest loves: flying, helping our community, and, quite naturally, dogs.
“Some of my passengers are a little restless during takeoff, but as soon as we get to altitude they all hunker down and relax. I’ll try to phrase this as politely as I can for your magazine, but the change in air pressure does something inside of dogs which … well, let’s just say it makes them more ‘expressive.’ And I don’t mean they start barking.
“I’ve flown other animals as well, like the time I helped a pair of bow-legged pygmy goats along their way to New Jersey. I couldn’t understand why anyone would care to fly goats. They weren’t very polite passengers, who spent most of the flight kicking hay around the cabin and bleating. On arrival in Madison I discovered they were destined for a children’s hospital that was developing new orthopedic surgical techniques.
“I appreciate the Flying Cloud community for its commitment to continuing education. Safety is very important to us here, which is why I volunteer to host, organize, moderate and find the presenters for our weekly safety webinars. They teach pilots everything from thunderstorm navigation to hearing protection, and have been attended by people in 75 countries worldwide.”
Please visit metroairports.org to learn more about Flying Cloud Airport, aviationcharter.com to book a private flight with Aviation Charter, or pilotsnpaws.org to discover how you can help support Pilots N Paws’ mission.
"The next time you hear the engines of a Beechjet 400 roar during the wee hours of the morning, that could be one of our pilots on their way to help save a life.”