My (Erik) love of flight began at a very young age. As long as I can remember I have always wanted to fly. I can remember, before I ever flew, I was amazed at hawks and birds soaring through the air. I remember telling my granddad when I was very young and staying with him over summer break that I wanted to build an airplane. He carved a little propeller out and put it on a stick so the wind would blow and turn it. Around the same time, I learned that my grandfather's middle name was "Lindbergh", which he hated because it wasn't a "regular name." As I discovered the history behind his name, I grew to love the name and what it stood for. I still have that little propeller today and someday I still hope to build a plane.
I was still infatuated with flight. I became involved in scouting and worked tirelessly to scrape the money together to fly my first remote control aircraft to pacify my desire to fly. It was through scouts that I received my first taste of flight. One of the scout parents (Bill G.) flew experimental/ultralight aircraft and had a friend that had an old "Birddog". He (Dan H.) graciously took me for my first flight, and as soon as we broke ground and climbed out, I looked out and saw a hawk circling at the same level - I was in love and knew this was what I had always dreamed of. From that day forward the quote by Leonardo De Vinci has rang true and the reason we have included it in a lot of our stuff. - "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return."
Once I graduated high school, I joined the Air National Guard with the hopes of becoming a fighter pilot and to provide a way to pay for my college. Through being a Crew Chief on F-16s and becoming a full-time mechanic I gave up on my dreams of being a fighter pilot and pacified my desire by finally taking up flying remote control airplanes. While a cheaper alternative, it never completely filled the desire.
As I matured, married my sweetheart (Scarlett), started a family, and moved up in my career, I started a paintball business (E&S Hobbies, Inc. - Splattered Woods). I have always liked business and enjoyed finding innovative ways to make money with things I enjoy. I wanted to start a firearms business (something else I love), but because of zoning - ended up with a paintball business instead. So, on the day of our daughter's birth (Ashton) - both she and E&S Hobbies, Inc were born (05-05-2005). As our family grew, Scarlett grew to hate the business because the time took me away from the family. During this same time, I had completed an Associates in Aerospace Technology, Bachelors in Accounting, and Masters in Public Management. All while working full time and being blessed with our second child (Watters). So spare time was a scarcity and she saw the paintball business as an enemy.
When Scarlett and I first started dating, I found out that she HATED flying. She told me the story about her and a friend flying to Washington in high school. They encountered turbulence and being scared to death - shedding lots of tears while others laughed. She swore she would never fly again. So, when we decided to get married, I knew I was going to have to give up on my dream of flying someday, which I knew at this point would only be civically.
When our kids were about 3 and 5, Scarlett said to me "Since we have kids now and if you wanna kill yourself in an airplane and can afford it, knock yourself out." - The next Monday, I showed up at SouthStar Aviation and did my first lesson. Paul D. was the first instructor I flew with and it worked out (because of scheduling) for him to remain my instructor (I still claim him to this day). As my love of flying blossomed while learning to fly, I knew this is where God wanted us to be.
I earned my private pilot’s license in December of 2010. Scarlett and I took a trip in late February of 2011 and talked about buying an airplane or doing something with airplanes. I mentioned how the current owner of the flight talked about selling a plane or selling out. Scarlett, who hated our current business, and hated flying said “see if he wants to sell the business.” Talk about questioning what God does with people. Roughly 30 days later - Scarlett and I bought Southstar Aviation in April of 2011 as a “retirement” plan. It amazes me how God works his will out in your life.
I still remained full time with the Air National Guard and worked in finance. We continued to grow the business and let the ones that were previously working there run it. In 2014 Montgomery Aviation closed the doors of their maintenance shop. We picked up their maintenance contract for the airport and also the regional airlines. In 2014 Lynn took a leave of absence to spend time with her family and take care of her businesses. At this time, Scarlett started running the books and seeing after the day to day office operations. After a turn of events in late 2014 and early 2015, I really struggled with the feeling that God was pulling me away from being full time with the 187th Fighter Wing and working more at the airport as a Mechanic and Flight Instructor.
In April 2015, I resigned my full-time technician job with the 187th Fighter Wing and whole heartedly trusted God that he would provide for us by pursuing what I felt like he was drawing me toward. He has blessed us and continues to bless and grow the business. In August of 2016 I received my Certified Instructor Rating. In May of 2017 I retired from the 187th Fighter Wing. In July of 2018, we received our Part 145 repair station for avionics work. And in August of 2018 I received my Multi Engine Instructor Rating.
We have a great group of instructors, mechanics, helpers, and customers that keep this business exciting and growing. I thank God every day that I get to do what I do for a living. God has always provided and I am grateful. I have heard it said before “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” – Amen.
I look forward to sharing my passion for aviation and flying with you.
William Erik Box