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wounded warriorEclipse Donates Private Jet Flight to Hollywood for Two Wounded Warriors

May 21, 2013

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Chartered jet service provides new option to business travelers

December 02, 2012 | Wayne Heilman | The Colorado Springs Gazette
Unless you are a pilot with your own aircraft, getting to most small U.S. cities and towns is often an ordeal requiring hours of driving or one or more connecting flights.

Colorado Springs travelers got another option recently as Eclipse Management  expanded into chartered jet services offering to take business or leisure travelers anywhere for $1,650 an hour in a five-passenger business jet. Started in 2008 as a management company for a business jet bought by former Lamar trailer manufacturer Bill Carder, Eclipse has expanded into managing aircraft for other companies and organizing partnerships to acquire interests in business jets.

Using a fleet of three Eclipse Aviation business jets, Eclipse Management began offering charter flights in January and has completed dozens of flights since, said Matthew Haynes, the company’s managing partner and chief pilot. Most of Eclipse Management’s charter customers are entrepreneurs who own small businesses or consulting firms, or have agricultural interests in small towns that don’t have airline service, he said.

“For business owners, their time is important and dealing with airline travel, security and connections uses a lot of that time,” Haynes said. “We can access 5,000 general-aviation airports, or more than 10 times as many as are serviced by airline service. We free our clients from the hub systems most airlines operate that requires you to make a connection to reach anywhere but the largest cities. You can fly direct in a fraction of the time it would take to reach on an airline flight.”

Carder said he started Eclipse Management to eliminate the five hours he had to spend driving to Denver International Airport, parking, clearing the security checkpoint and waiting at the gate. The company soon expanded into managing jets for other owners, including providing pilots, fueling, maintenance, flight planning and other logistics tasks for flights to most U.S. locations as well as some in Canada and Mexico.

“A private jet is not just a luxury; it is a business tool,” Carder said. “It makes your time much more productive.” He has used the company’s jets to visit four or five clients from in different cities in the same day, a trip that would take at least a week to accomplish traveling on airlines.”

Haynes said charters allow business owners more flexibility when they fly and also allow them to take more baggage than many airlines allow, including parts or product samples clients need immediately. Corporate aircraft also can be used to transport customers or clients to a company’s headquarters or manufacturing plant and offer greater privacy for business meetings among passengers during a flight, he said.

Joe Kondrup, owner of Catalyst Strategic Advisers, a Colorado Springs-based consulting firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions, said he uses Eclipse Management’s charter services six to eight times a year to reach small towns in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma that would be difficult and time-consuming to reach on airline flights.

“I have a client in the panhandle of Texas that I travel to meet with on a regular basis. I could drive there, but it would take 6½ hours. I can fly there in 45 minutes, allowing me to leave Colorado Springs at 7 a.m. for a 9 a.m. meeting and get back in time for dinner on the same day,” Kondrup said. “Compare that with a grueling two-day trip with plenty of driving on both days and a hotel stay after the first day. It makes me far more productive in my business.”

Retired Honda dealer Dennis Fitzgerald said he has used Eclipse Management’s charter service several times this year to fly to a vacation home he owns in Nevada, allowing him to take a bicycle along more easily than if he was traveling with an airline. He said Eclipse is less expensive than most charter services he has priced because it uses more fuel-efficient aircraft and allows passengers to share a flight if they are heading to destinations that are along the same route, which he has done on at least one of his flights.

“It is an efficient and affordable product, at least compared to other corporate jets,” Fitzgerald said. “I also like being able to drive up to the terminal 10 minutes before the plane is scheduled to leave.”

After its was started, Eclipse Management later began organizing partnerships of two to four individuals or companies to buy jets made by Albuquerque-based Eclipse Aviation and managing the aircraft for the partnerships, Haynes said. The company now is putting together partnerships to buy the newest version of the Eclipse jet; production is expected to resume next year under Eclipse Aerospace, which acquired the assets of Eclipse Aviation after it went bankrupt in 2009.

Eclipse Management, which employs six pilots and two jet mechanics, is based in a 3,400-square-foot hangar it owns in the COS Business Air Park on the west side of the Colorado Springs Airport and has plans to expand next year to Oakland, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

Although other charter services operate out of the Springs, Eclipse Management is the only one locally using jets, Haynes said. One of the company’s jets is approved to operate charters and two others are expected to be approved for charter flights shortly, he said. The jets travel at 425 mph and have a range of nearly 1,300 miles before refueling, or about the same as regional jets used by most major airlines for flights from the Springs.




Local jet company taking flight, expanding services

November 30, 2012 | Monica Mendoza | Colorado Springs Business Journal

Matthew Haynes (left), manager and chief pilot, and owner Bill Carder, with an Eclipse 500 jet that can take clients all over North America.

Bill Carder didn’t see himself as a jet-setter.

He owned a trailer manufacturing company in Lamar and sold his products across the country. It took him three hours to drive to Colorado Springs to catch a commercial flight. Typically, he also could count on a long drive when he landed to meet his clients.

“So it made sense to get an airplane to use it as a tool to reduce the windshield time I was putting in behind the steering wheel of an automobile,” he said.

Carder bought an Eclipse 500 — a six-seat business jet that’s fast, flies high and handles like the sportiest of sports cars. He cut his business travel time by days on each trip and felt the value of being home in time for supper.

He wants others to experience that, too.

Carder sold his manufacturing company and opened Eclipse Private Jet in Colorado Springs in 2009 — the only private jet management and charter company in the Springs. He owns two jets, a Cessna 340, manages other aircraft and offers chartered flights to any of the 5,000 general-aviation airports across the country. His pilots also fly into Mexico and Canada.

Eclipse Private Jet is flying about 1,300 hours a year. Carder owns a 5,400-square-foot hangar, off Powers Boulevard near the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, and is leasing a second hangar. He believes there is a market in the Springs for jet ownership and chartered jet flights, and he’s on a path to prove it.

“Think of the businessman who needs to get to Missoula, Montana. Can you imagine trying to get from here to Missoula?” Carder said. “What if you could leave at 7 a.m. and be back by 5 p.m.? It can be done.”

Come fly with me

Carder bought the Eclipse 500 in 2008 — it goes up to 41,000 feet in altitude, cruises at 420 mph and flies in any type of weather. He hired pilot Matthew Haynes and was making business trips all over the country.

But he started getting calls from other jet owners wondering if he could manage their aircraft, said Haynes, also the Eclipse Private Jet manager. That’s how the company was born, Haynes said. Eclipse Private Jet started providing pilots, mechanics, hangars and taking care of the paperwork for other aircraft owners.

“It grew from there, to where we are known now as Eclipse managers,” Haynes said. “I think it’s kind of cool actually that we have been able to bring in airplanes and add value that would normally be based in Denver and now are actually down here.”

But jets aren’t cheap. A new Eclipse 500 will cost a cool $2.5 million. A used one runs about $1.8 million. Carder’s company can match jet-buying partners for travelers who might not need the jet often enough to justify the price tag. A person can buy half a jet for $900,000 or a quarter of a jet for $450,000. And Eclipse Private Jet will manage the aircraft, Haynes says. The company manages three aircraft now including one owned through a shared partnership.

“The market is someone who wants to buy a business aircraft but knows nothing else about it,” Haynes said. “All they want to do is to be able to pick up the telephone and say, ‘I need my aircraft to fly me to San Diego, Sierra Vista or Phoenix,’ and we take care of everything else.”

This month, the company began marketing its chartered jet flights. Typically the flights are booked for business trips. But the company flies people to their vacation destinations or second homes. A 40-minute flight to Scottsdale, Ariz. for example, costs $1,650 in the jet and about $850 in the Cessna.

“It’s going to be challenging to build this business in Colorado Springs,” Carder said. “But, it’s simple … when people know that it’s easy and more affordable than some of the other opportunities they could use, then I think we will be able to build a nice little business.”

Haynes believes chartered jets will allow more access in and out of the Springs, especially for business travelers, entrepreneurs, company scouts and site planners, he said.

“It allows someone that needs to bring someone in — we send one of our aircraft to go pick up someone and they can be home for dinner, which is appealing when bringing someone out for a business meeting,” Haynes said.

Beat the birds

Joe Kondrup, Catalyst Strategic Advisors founder and managing partner, has been chartering flights for his business trips for 20 years.

“Sometimes there is just no other way to get to where you need to be — the timeline, or it’s remote,” he said.

In the past, Kondrup chartered the plane out of Denver and paid extra for it to pick him up in the Springs.

“When (Carder) started Eclipse Jet business, I was a ready-made customer,” he said.

Kondrup takes a lot of commercial flights, but some places would require several connecting flights or be a long drive, he said. For example, he has a client in Amarillo, Texas, and must attend regular board meetings there. A day-long meeting would require him to make the six- to seven-hour drive the day before and stay the night after the meeting. That’s too much time, he said.

When he charters an Eclipse Private Jet flight to Amarillo, it takes 40 minutes, and he’s home the same day, he said.

“The beauty of it is I can call them on eight to 10 hours notice,” Kondrup said, “and they can get me anywhere.”