Biz week

Will Dawson has been heading up Dawson Aircraft Inc for the past 33 years but as a young man growing up in Bee Branch one might not have guessed the path that was laid out before him. Will grew up on a diary farm in the mid 80’s and at that time it was not uncommon see dairy farms throughout the rural landscape of Arkansas with approximately 153 active dairy operations at that time in Van Buren County alone. As Will grew to become a young adult his father could see the trend of small dairy operations becoming obsolete in the marketplace so he encouraged his son to explore different career opportunities.

Mr. Dawson took his first step towards his aviation career when he enrolled at the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa. Upon completion of his degree Will worked at the Little Rock Aircraft Center and it was there he would make key relationships with Wade Wherry and Alex Kienlen that have lasted 30 plus years and added the experience needed for his business to thrive. After a short time at LR Aircraft Center Will branched off and started his own operation in 1990 where he began performing maintenance and repairs on small aircraft. Will would grow his business for the next 13 years adding insurance retrieval and storage to complement his aircraft repair business. In 2003 he acquired Arkansas Airframe for Jim Cullum and with the acquisition he added salvage and parts sales to create a business model that has proven successful.

Will and Wade were aeronautic mechanics by trade and three years into their new business venture came to the conclusion that if they were going to repair aircraft it would be beneficial to be able to fly them as well. So in 1993 they acquired the services of Danny Pistole as an instructor and began training on a Cessna 172 that they had built themselves. Danny was old school when it came to training and learning how to fly and as Will recalls they had all gone together and purchased a GPS to assist in their navigation which at the time was a pricey piece of equipment. Danny was said to have been interested in the new luxury at first but the new found fondness died quickly and it was back to manual gages and compasses.

Dawson Aircraft is an economic engine for the airport as approximately 95 percent of their income is new dollars into our economy. They offer services in aircraft repair, annual inspections, insurance repair & storage, airplane retrieval, salvage, parts sales, and can assist in the brokerage of local planes. Mr. Dawson currently sits on the Arkansas State Aeronautics Board that has a budget in the millions of dollars to help grow, maintain, and upgrade the better part of a hundred airports across the state. Dawson’s services aircraft throughout the region and runs a salvage business only found in cities over a thousand times Clinton’s size. With the new expansions Dawson’s has the room to grow and create a stronger business model at the same time strengthening our local airport and Clinton’s economy. Dawson Aircraft is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and you can reach them at 501-745-5300.

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