Elaine Johns, Northwest Aero -- Continues to Fly High
When people asked Elaine Johns what she would do when she grew up, it's very unlikely that she responded, "own an aircraft charter, maintenance, and flight training school." However, that is exactly what she does; and apparently better than anyone else.
Northwest Areo has faced its share of adversities. In 1977, while the company was owned by its founder, LaVerne Friesen, the hanger was destroyed by a tornado. While awaiting construction of a new hanger in '78, the temporary facility caught fire and burned to the ground. Still the business prevailed, purchasing larger and faster aircraft for on demand air charter.
When Johns took over the business in 2000, she hoped the company's troubles were finished. Then along came 9/11 and Northwest Aero was grounded for an extended period of time. Less than four months later, a major ice storm grounded the business yet again. A lot of other businesses might have seen these events as a sign that it simply wasn't meant to be. That wasn't the case with Northwest Aero.
With amazing foresight, a great deal of hard work, some good old fashioned research, and the enthusiasm of 10 men, Johns has managed to not only hold the business together, but to continue to expand and grow it as well. During her tenure as owner she instituted an aviation degree in connection with Northern Oklahoma College and negotiated a deal with the Air Force to provide flight training to pilots.
"Elaine simply doesn't know the meaning of the word quit," said Charlie Kuchinsky, Business Development Specialist for OSBDC. "It isn't a part of her vocabulary. She is constantly working on a new angle - - like the aircraft parts business or her website. If life throws her a road block, she just problem solves her way right out of it. She is truly amazing!"