The company also uses backup pilots from Aviation Dynamix.
The Mustang is an investment, said Fred Berry. "But it's a long-term investment."
The jet will serve the company for 20 years.
Still, the trips must make sense.
Operating costs for the Mustang run about $700 per flight hour, Walter Berry said. That cost will rise once the plane is out of warranty.
A trip in the Mustang with its seats full beats the cost of airline tickets.
Flying with the plane half full is a convenience.
And if you fly alone?
"You pay a premium," Walter Berry said.
"We do go through that equation," he said. "If I'm flying alone or one of our people is flying alone, we would tend to use the airlines."
A jet such as the Mustang might be more difficult to justify if there weren't multiple people needing to travel, Berry said.
"Or you might justify a single-engine piston plane as opposed to a jet," he said. "It (the plane) does need to be geared toward how you're going to use it."
Local companies use a variety of single-engine and twin-engine airplanes to do business.
Chuck Pierson, a dentist with Wichita Family Dental, uses a twin-engine Cessna 421 in his practice, which employs 30 people, including three other dentists.
Two-thirds of the time, Pierson does the flying.
He flies staff members and dentists to continuing education classes to learn the latest in clinical procedures, techniques in making crowns or performing root canals or on updating computer software.
The ability to get to training and home in the same day is a convenience, he said. And it saves money on hotels and meals and additional pay for more time on the road.
Recently Pierson and another dentist jumped in the airplane on a Wednesday to look at dental equipment in Colby, a trip that would have taken four to five hours of drive time.
"There's no way we would have driven out there on a Wednesday night," Pierson said.
Andy Smith, president and owner of Alltite, a distributor of industrial maintenance equipment, began using a plane in his business after he flew to Grand Junction, Colo., with a friend, who then let him borrow both the airplane and pilot for the week.
Smith did business in seven cities in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and was back in Wichita on Thursday in time to watch his son's baseball game.
Without the plane, visiting that many customers would have taken three separate trips over three weeks.
He was sold.
Smith decided then that he wanted to learn to fly and turned to the pilot, Steve Hinkle, for advice.
Hinkle became his flight instructor. Smith earned his private pilot's license in March 2011. He earned a multi-engine rating in August and is working on an instrument rating.
At the same time, Smith sought advice from Sabris Corp. for help in buying the right plane for his business needs.
"We went through many different models and picked it out based our mission and what we were going to be doing," Smith said.
He bought a 1978 twin-engine Piper Aztec.
For now, Smith typically flies with another pilot on board, unless he's sure the weather will let him fly under visual flight rules.
His customers are in rural communities without commercial airline service.
"I go to where there's wind farms and refineries and oil fields, and they're never in big cities," Smith said.
Getting from Grand Junction, Colo., to Vernal, Utah, would take him hours.
It would take three hours just to drive over Douglas Pass, a mountain pass in Colorado located between the two cities, because of switchbacks, winding roads and slow traffic.
"In an airplane, it takes 30 minutes to get over the pass," Smith said.
He often takes along sales staff and the pilot drops everyone off in various cities to see customers, and then picks them back up.
The plane has allowed the business to grow quickly.
"I can close deals that I otherwise probably wouldn't be able to do," Smith said.
He's been able to add sales staff and plans to add more.
When a customer is in a bind and needs a part, Smith can send the part out right away.
"When you do that, you've got a customer for life," he said.
His small company competes with much bigger businesses.
"But the president and CEO of that company doesn't go to the middle of Nowhere, Texas," he said.
"When someone says the president of our company is going to fly down there and see you, that's a huge benefit,' he said. "They don't know I'm not flying in a $12?million Learjet, but I still get there."
There's nothing inexpensive about owning an airplane, Smith said.
The cost of fuel, maintenance, oil, hangar rental, insurance and other costs average about $320 a flight hour.
But, "it makes complete sense," he said. "I'm using the plane to make money.?... It allows me to be more places and do what I'm good at."
He doesn't use the airplane, however, on trips that take two hours or less to drive.
"I'm not a millionaire," Smith said. "I'm a regular guy with a little airplane. But it works out for what we do."
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