Young couple brings sexy back to private aviation.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Capital Flight isn’t really your dad’s flight training facility, even though inside the Airport Road hangar, a 1946 bright yellow, two-seat Piper J3 Cub hangs above a trio of planes. “It still flies,” admires 37-year-old President Matt Hofeldt. “I had it out last week.”
Matt is an instrument-rated pilot from Waunakee who started flying as a youngster. He handles the day-to-day operations at Capital Flight, a company he and his wife, Jade, launched in 2013 to make private aviation sexy again.
Jade, 35, the company’s CEO, hails from Sun Prairie and has been flying for 17 years. She is ATP (airport transport pilot)-rated and is also a certified flight instructor, but her day job is working for a Kansas City-based private jet broker.
Capital Flight offers flight lessons, buys and sells pre-owned aircraft and hangars, and focuses on customer service, camaraderie, and celebrations. “Whether [someone buys] a $20,000 used Cessna, a $1 million Cirrus, or a $5 million business jet, it deserves a really special day,” smiles Matt.
Cirrus Aircraft, a high-tech plane manufacturer, learned of their success and asked if they’d be interested in a partner status. “[That] was a very big deal,” Matt admits.
Capital Flight is now one of just two Cirrus Training Centers in Wisconsin where student pilots can train in state-of-the art Cirrus aircraft, which Matt compares to flying Porsches — with leather seats, easy-to-read controls, airbags, air conditioning, and even Sirius/XM radio. “Aviation doesn’t seem so foreign to people now because many of the controls look familiar, or what a modern Tesla might look like. Plus, these planes are sexy as hell.”
Cirrus aircraft also have ballistic (i.e., rocket fired) airframe parachutes that can be launched in the event of a catastrophic event to a pilot or plane, allowing it to float to the ground.
“It’s a one-and-done deal that’s not for all circumstances,” Matt cautions, but many appreciate the peace of mind.
“There have been zero fatalities when these parachutes have been used,” Jade adds, “but you never want to use one.”
The Cirrus partnership suits the young couple’s desire to spice up personal aviation, an industry, they say, that has lagged behind others in terms of technology. “A Cessna 172, which is a popular trainer plane, hasn’t really changed over the past 60 years,” Matt states, “and there hasn’t been a new aviation business started in Dane County for decades.”
So they decided to up the ante.
“Coming in as a young couple with fresh ideas of how things should be, like offering beautiful locker rooms and amenities, is a big part of our success,” he adds. The Middleton hangar is both showroom and celebration space, offering red carpets and easy chairs, a fully stocked refrigerator, bar area, an area for outdoor grilling, and theatrical lighting at night.
The Cirrus models here are on leaseback agreements, meaning individual owners agree to allow Capital Flight to use them for flight training in exchange for being able to offset some of their costs. These planes might run between $500,000 and $1 million new, Jade estimates.
But general aviation doesn’t have to cost nearly that much, she insists. “If you really want to own your own plane — not a Cirrus — you could become a pilot and own a very used one for about $25,000.”
Capital Flight contracts with five flight instructors and it recently added its first employee, a full-time mechanic.
Meanwhile, the couple is working on obtaining a Part 135 certificate from the FAA, which will allow the company to offer small-plane charter flights for a fee. But their ultimate long-term goal is to expand their boutique business to other cities across the Midwest. “You can’t clone yourself, so the hard part becomes finding the right partners, and that’s a bit scary,” Matt admits. “We’re not there yet.”
But the sky’s the limit.
Morey Field (C29), 8264 Airport Road
Middleton, WI 53562
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