It takes a certain type of person to pilot a personal jet aircraft. Of course you need proper training, a pilot's license and hundreds, if not thousands of flying hours under your belt. But pilots also need to be decisive when making decisions in the air, diligent when taking essential safety precautions and enjoy living life a bit on the edge. Billy Meyer, owner of Texas Aero, Phillips 66®-branded Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in Waco, embodies all of these characteristics, and then some, both in the air and on the ground.
The need for speed
Meyer is an accomplished drag racer, driving in 112 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) events, 12 of which he victoriously crossed the finish line. He's no stranger to taking risks, having built his career on driving speeds faster than most people ever experience. He left the sport as a driver after 18 years, opting for a profession with less travel, and in 1986 he built the Texas Motorplex, the premier Texas drag racing facility located in Ennis, Texas, 40 miles south of downtown Dallas. The Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete stadium-style drag racing facility ever constructed, and has been the place of many drag racing milestones and world record performances. In addition to owning this renowned facility, Meyer also looked to the sky to make his next career move.
Trading in race cars for jets
"Drag racing was a good life," said Meyer. "I basically traded in racing cars for jets. Flying jets is my fun now instead of driving race cars."
In 1990 Meyer purchased Texas Aero, a general aviation facility servicing the Waco Regional Airport (KACT) that has been in continuous operation since 1973. They have a different business model than other FBOs. Instead of chartering planes through other companies, they own their inventory of aircraft, including a Piper Super Cub, Citation, Hawker, Challenger and Falcon. The FBO always has an array of jets available for purchase, currently advertising a 2001 Citation Bravo and a 1995 FALCON 50-241 that can be yours for the right price.
"Between myself, Jeff Porter (V.P. of Operations) and Tommy Miller (Director of FBO), we have more than 30,000 hours of flight," said Meyer. "This in-depth knowledge helps us in aircraft sales because if you know how to operate pretty much any jet made, you can have legitimate operational conversations with potential customers. It's a different business model than just being a broker."
Servicing presidents, Baylor Bear fans, and everyone in between
While there aren't a lot of corporate jets that come through Waco, there is a lot of personal aircraft traffic. Basically any trips from Mississippi to the west coast take pilots directly over Waco. And since most aircraft can't make it coast to coast, pilots land at KACT and stop by Texas Aero for a fill up with Phillips 66 quality fuel.
"We see a lot of regular, daily traffic," said Meyer. "In fact, Baylor University has done so well in sports in the last four to five years, the weekend traffic has quadrupled. During the historic 2011-2012 season, Baylor set an NCAA record for most combined wins in the four major collegiate sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, and football.
"We do all of Baylor's charter work, and since we have so many big charters coming in now, we purchased a de-icing truck," said Meyer.
"It's been a great business and I've been blessed," Meyer said. "I have to say, it was especially exciting during the years when President Bush was in office because of the traffic we got from his travels to the Waco ranch."
Prairie Chapel Ranch, also known as The Western White House, was used by Bush and his family extensively during his Presidential terms as a vacation spot and a place to entertain dignitaries from around the world.
So whether you're stopping through Waco on your way elsewhere, coming into town to cheer on the Baylor Bears (sic 'em!), visiting the Dr. Pepper Museum, or are an esteemed guest heading to Prairie Chapel Ranch, be sure to stop by Texas Aero, Central Texas' premier FBO with the most complete facilities for pilots, guests and aircraft owners.