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A conversation with Charles Lloyd

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Sep. 8, 2012, at 11:50 p.m.

Charles Lloyd fell in love with aviation as a child as he watched planes fly overhead.

By first grade, he already was drawing airplanes during class.

And he devoted his career to the aviation industry and flying.

Lloyd spent 17 years at Cessna Aircraft marketing Citation business jets, worked three years in sales at what is now Hawker Beechcraft and flew for seven years for NetJets, a fractional ownership company.

These days, Lloyd, 76, is a real estate investor.

He and two partners have invested in three mobile home parks in the Wichita and Hutchinson area.

Lloyd became interested in real estate during the 2008 decline in the stock market when he began looking for alternative investments.

At first, investing in mobile home parks seemed like a big departure from aviation.

But it’s a natural fit.

In his real estate ventures, Lloyd uses the marketing and financial-modeling skills he honed selling business jets.

A pilot with more than 10,000 flight hours, Lloyd also volunteers for Angel Flight Central, donating his time, fuel and Cessna Skylane to fly patients needing treatment to centers such as MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Over the years, a progression of people helped Lloyd learn and gain flying experience, including a group of demonstration pilots at Cessna, he said.

“You finally get to the point where you say it’s time for me to give something back,” Lloyd said.

Born in Jackson, Miss., Lloyd grew up in Alabama and earned an engineering degree from what is now Auburn University. During college, he also earned his private pilot’s license.

After a stint in the Marines, he earned a master’s of engineering from the University of Alabama, then went to work for DuPont.

In the meantime, he used the GI Bill to earn additional flight ratings and moved to Houston to work for Cessna selling jets before coming to Wichita in 1984 to manage the used aircraft group. During his seven years at Cessna, the business grew from $25 million to $140 million.

Lloyd is married to Sara Lloyd, who has an executive coaching and medical consulting business. Together, they have four children.

You spent seven years as a captain for NetJets. You mentioned that your schedules were often changed at the last minute. How was that?

It was fun. It was a good gig. I define it as the world’s largest scavenger hunt. You get your trip the night before and when you wake up the next morning, it may be changed. … My brother said I was always the most adventuresome of the family and wanted to see what was on the other side of the horizon all the time. Aviation lets you do that.

You bought two mobile home properties this year. How are they doing?

We’re in the organizational growth period. We aren’t losing our shirts. We’re on plan. We’ve got a track record with one of the properties. It’s doing very well.

You said you’re fascinated with financial and other types of modeling. How so?

I’ve modeled math. I’ve modeled finance. And I’ve also modeled aircraft performance, where I took the cost of maintenance, the cost of fuel and found out what power setting for a given altitude, gross weight and headwind or tailwind was the least cost per mile to operate that airplane. While at Cessna, I did an airline model that helped them sell 75 Caravans to a Latin American company. They gave us their crew cost, fuel cost, load factors, all the … information you need to say what load factor you have to have to break even and what happens once you get past that point. (I) modeled that to convince them to buy those 75 Caravans. … They were going to make lots of money.

You’ve flown Angel Flight trips for five years. What’s the best part?

The gratitude that people have for what we do for them. The thanks we see in their face in (helping them) cope with what’s going on in their life and making life easier for them.

One of the biggest advantages of the organization is helping with the financial and emotional turmoil of the patients and their families. For example, you flew a patient halfway from Pittsburg to the Mayo Clinic. (Another volunteer flew the rest of the way.)

The father came along. Before, he was driving his son nonstop in his pickup truck to Rochester. He had to take time off of work – two days up, two days back and the day up there …We can get there a whole lot faster.

You mentioned a need for more pilots and donations to the organization.

The response for our service is increasing, and we do need more pilots. … (For more information), you can go to www.angelflightcentral.org and click on the pilot’s screen.

Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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