This is Albuquerque: Del Sol Aviation
 Alibi V.25 No.9 • March 3-9, 2016 
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This is Albuquerque

Del Sol Aviation

Cessna 172M

What was your first job?

Systems engineer for the design of aviation enterprise operations with focus on the design and production of military aircraft and related propulsion systems.

How did you get started in this business?

Family aspiration for a retirement job.

Why did you choose this business?

Son's enthusiasm to start a business using his Piper Cherokee as a rental for flight training with area instructors.

What is your business philosophy?

To establish a local source for high quality pilot training services.

What is your educational background?

BSIE Oklahoma State University, MSIE Central Michigan University.

What is your company's greatest asset?

Seasoned and Certified Flight Instructors.

What are your strongest business traits?

Desire to grow the business and be the best. Started with one aircraft and one instructor. Now at 5 aircraft and 10 instructors.

Why did you choose to do business in Albuquerque?

Good weather for flying. Family location.

What motivates you to succeed beside the desire to make money?

A love for aviation related endeavours.

  • Company name: Del Sol Aviation
  • Type of business: Flight Training & Aircraft Rental
  • Owners: Rick Preston
  • Ages: 72
  • Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Business Address:
    2501 Clark Carr Loop SE
    Albuquerque NM 87106
    505-242-2701
  • Number of Employees: 15
  • Business Fax: 505 242-4168
  • Business Email:
  • Business Website: www.delsolaviation.com

How is operating your own business different than you expected?

A lot of unexpected challenges related to aircraft maintenance, training program quality and financial management.

What significant changes have you implemented recently?

Development of qualifications to train foreign students.

What successes in the past year are you most proud of accomplishing?

Ongoing contractual work with Bendix-King of Honeywell to conduct pilot training ground classes for Honeywell employees and qualifying with the DEA to train pilots for Multi-Engine Ratings.

What do you offer that the competition doesn't?

FAA Certified Part 141 Flight Training Services.

FAA monitors and validates our training program, maintenance program and qualification of flight instructors. This provides qualification for VA funded programs, company-sponsored training programs and foreign contract training programs.

How do you maintain your competitive edge?

Constant improvement opportunities.

How would you define your position within the marketplace or within your market segment?

Within the the top 10% for size and capability of the company.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in operating a successful business?

Having a mindset to stick with it and resolve issues that are constantly cropping up.

What was your best business decision?

Establishing criteria to always hire key managers who are more talented then I am.

What was your biggest missed opportunity?

Hasn't happened yet.

What are your growth goals?

15% per year in overall business growth.

What is your company's greatest challenge?

Finding and hiring qualified and motivated flight instructors. Due to an industry shortage of pilots many Instructor pilots are being hired by the feeder airlines with benefits that we are unable to match.

What contributions to the community (charitable or otherwise) are you most proud of?

Winning Top Flight School Recognition and Honors from Women of Aviation Worldwide in 2015 for achieving the largest number of introductory career opportunities than any other flight school globally. Del Sol Aviation sponsored 712 free flights in March of 2015 to motivate young women to consider aviation careers.

How has the internet affected your business and how do you think it might affect your business in the future?

Ninety percent of our new students and renters have commented that Del Sol Aviation’s web page was a primary input in finding and considering Del Sol Aviation as their choice for doing flight training and aircraft rental. We anticipate the internet will be a primary and expanding avenue for promoting our growing company capabilities.

In what area of your business do you invest the most energy?

Adding new capabilities and improving existing capabilities.

If you had to choose another career or start another business what would it be?

Software products and related engineering such as flight simulator programs.

What words of wisdom would you offer to someone starting their own business?

Make sure you enjoy what you are doing.

What's your favorite saying or quotation?

Let's find your place in the sky!

If you had a chance to live anyone else's life, whose life would it be?

Charles Lindberg

What book are you currently reading or what's your favorite book?

Extreme Ownership

Do you have a hero or mentor-business or otherwise?

My father who was a pilot, business owner and distributor of motorcycles and aviation parts.

If there is one thing about Albuquerque or New Mexico that you could change, what would it be?

Expanding facilities to support general aviation capabilities at Sunport.

What do you look for in prospective employees?

Self presentation, skills and motivation.

What inspires you?

My wife and family.

Three passions outside of work?

Yard work, exercise and spending time with my wife.