Flying: It’s a family affair at Air Trek

A Family AffairFlorida WeeklyDownload Flying: it’s a family affair at Air Trek

As Air Trek Inc. celebrates its 35th year of providing air ambulance and private jet aircraft charter service, brothers Dana, Lester and Wayne Carr reminisce over 31⁄2 decades in aviation. The word “trek” is defined as a long and never-ending journey. Our journey officially began, Oct. 16, 1978, with the incorporation of Air Trek Inc.

This is our story. Some kids dream of flying. For some it is the fantasy of flight, but for a special few, flying becomes a passion. My brother, Wayne Carr, happens to be one of the latter. As a kid, Wayne dreamed of becoming a pilot. As a teen, flying became his passion.

At 19, Wayne worked as an auto mechanic and auto-body repairman to pay for his private pilot’s training. Our journey begins one spring day when Wayne was driving home from work at Reedman Chevrolet in Longhorn, Pa. He stopped by 3M airport (a small private airfield just miles from Philadelphia International Airport) and said, “I want to be a pilot.” A “Discovery Flight” was scheduled for the following Saturday and thus a childhood
dream was soon fulfilled.

This was just the start of a lifetime passion. Vowing not to interrupt the training until earning his private pilot certificate, Wayne held back from a family move to Florida to complete the course. His training continued; through the use of the GI Bill while he was in the Air Force, Wayne earned his Commercial/Instrument Single & Multi Engine Land, Certified Flight Instructor credentials. After completing his Air Force service and returning home to Florida, Wayne added his Instrument and Multi Engine Flight Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, Commercial Single and Multi-Engine Sea, Helicopter and Glider Certification along with their respective Flight Instructor Ratings. In addition to these ratings, Wayne received Transport Category Type Ratings in Citation and Westwind jets, and most recently in DC-4 (a four-engine radial prop used in WWII for cargo transport across the Atlantic). Furthermore, he added an Airframe /Power Plant Mechanics Certificate with Inspection Authorization, allowing Wayne to fix what he flies.

Family No. 1

This was just the beginning of the passion. A few years and 1,000 flight hours later, Wayne would teach his fiancée BJ to fly and obtain her private pilot certificate before marriage. Newlyweds Wayne and BJ honeymooned by island-hopping through the Bahamas in Wayne’s Cessna 172. The passion continued with Wayne instructing BJ through her Commercial with Instrument and Multi-Engine Ratings in addition to her becoming a Certified Flight Instructor for Single/Multi Engine Aircraft and Instrument Instruction.

Family No. 2

After Air Trek opened in 1978, Wayne’s first priority was to teach his youngest brother, yours truly, to fly, and he has been my flying mentor ever since. All of Wayne’s training has served me well. Having an Airline Transport Pilot with Citation Type, Commercial Pilot Single Engine Land / Sea, and Rotorcraft certifications give me a firm foundation to stand on while serving as Air Trek’s director of operations.

As an aside, occasionally I am asked; how is it to work with my brothers? My answer is; I would not have it any other way.

We are best friends and I trust them beyond any doubt.

Family No. 3

When our brother Lester retired from the Air Force in 1995, he visited our hangar at the Charlotte County Airport to see Air Trek’s latest acquisition, a Jet
Commander. The Jet Commander, the forerunner to the Westwind and Gulfstream G150, was an impressive, midsize corporate jet. Leaning into the doorway to have a look, Les exclaimed, “I would really like to fly a jet like this.”

I replied, “Why don’t you?”

Puzzled, he said, “How?”

“Simple: We have the aircraft and Wayne is the best instructor around. Hang out with us and you will be flying in no time,” I told him.

Lester soon was in the air, earning his Private Single/Multi engine with Instrument Rating and Airframe/Power Plant Mechanic certificates.

Lester went on to become Air Trek’s director of maintenance, keeping our fleet mission ready to go at all times.

Family No. 4

In 1985, Wayne and Bonnie became a family of three with the birth of their son, Aaron. With a mom and dad plus his maternal grandfather, as pilots it was only destiny that Aaron E. Carr (monograms ACE) would take to the skies.

At just 9 days old, his first “familiarization” flight was in a Cessna 206 amphibian seaplane. It was a short flight from Wayne’s backyard and family seaplane base on the Peace River to the Arcadia airport to visit “Grampy” while he was on duty pumping avgas at the family FBO in Arcadia. This first flight led to a lifetime interest in flying, punctuated by soloing (in a twin-engine aircraft) on his 16th birthday, becoming a private pilot (in a twin-engine aircraft) on his 17th birthday, and commercial pilot with Citation Jet Type rating on his 18th birthday.

While a high school senior, Aaron was earning extra cash as a jet co-pilot while his friends toiled mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Even more impressive is the fact that Aaron received all of his flight training from his dad, Wayne. Aaron now serves as Air Trek’s CFO and a co-pilot in both the Westwind and Citation jets.

The question is: Which Carr will be next? Well, in addition to Wayne’s wife BJ, two of his brothers, myself, Lester and his son Aaron, there are two grandsons, grandnieces and grandnephews who may one day decide to take to the skies.

Wayne has also shared his passion for flying by teaching hundreds of pilots, allowing their dreams of flight to become reality.

For more than 40 years and 20,000 accident-free flight hours, Wayne Carr has instructed beginner to advanced pilots, continuing today as Air Trek’s chief pilot and check airman.

Along the way, we grew Air Trek into one of the nation’s premier air ambulance and private aircraft charter services. We have been blessed with plenty of blue skies and tail winds, an occasional bit of turbulence, and a few storms. However, through it all, it’s been a family affair.