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NOTEBOOK: New owners of Des Moines Flying Service hope business will take off


Aviation aficionados won’t find a lot of changes at Des Moines Flying Service under its new owners, says Steve Thompson, who’s now running the show at the longtime small aircraft dealership at Des Moines International Airport. 
“For the most part they won’t see any changes,” said Thompson, who is now president of Des Moines Flying Service in addition to executive vice president of Muncie Aviation Co. in Muncie, Ind. Most of the synergies will take place in the back-office operations of the business. Both organizations are longtime Piper aircraft dealers, and Des Moines is also a HondaJet dealer. 
“Most customers won’t experience anything different in the short term,” Thompson said. “In the long term, we expect to sell more airplanes — which leads to more business and services.” Muncie Aviation is a much bigger operation than DMFS; last year Muncie had record sales with 51 aircraft sold, compared with a dozen aircraft sold by DMFS. The Indiana operation has a 65-person staff, while the Des Moines dealer has 28. 
Thompson credited the former owners, Don Jay and John Lowe, with building a solid foundation that’s ready to take off. “They were really great to deal with,” Thompson said. “They built a great, long-standing business; we would sure like to build on that.  
“So the plan will be to move a lot more [aircraft sales] in that direction,” he said, “which will lead to more opportunities in Des Moines for mechanics and service personnel. But it all starts with airplane sales.” 
As the fixed-base operator for the Delaware County Regional Airport in Muncie, Muncie Aviation performs fueling and a host of related small-aviation services, but it has no intention of trying to compete in the already well-served FBO space in Des Moines. 
By the end of March, Des Moines Flying Service will be moving across the airport grounds when the new general aviation facility is completed at Des Moines International. The move is part of the airport’s master plan in preparation for the eventual construction of a new airport terminal. 
Pilots hoping for additional aircraft brands coming to Des Moines may have to be patient. Thompson said while there is opportunity for adding new lines, nothing is planned in the near future. “It’s a lot of old companies and old-time relationships, so anything that happens, happens slowly,” he said. 


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