Phoenix Air does charter work others fear to touch

Whether airlifting medical workers who contract Ebola out of West Africa, engaging in combat sorties to help train military pilots or transporting hazardous materials, this Atlanta-based Part 135 operator does it all.

Learjet 36 in foreground above has had cabin gutted to allow easy transporting of everything from auto parts to missiles. On the Gulfstream III at right you can see the oversized cargo door which measures 80 inches across and allows for easy loading of cargo ranging from stretcher-case patients to dolphins bound for aquariums.

Back in Atlanta the isolation tents had been stored for 6 years, since the time of the bird flu scare. Phoenix Air owned these isolation tents. They could be fitted easily aboard GIIIs and were available quickly for Ebola victims. Which they did.

When the isolation tents were needed it took only 7 days from the time Dr Brantly was sick in Liberia until Phoenix Air flew him out in a modified GIII and back to the US. He was cared for and his life saved at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Chaff pods to foil radar and targets for air towing are lined up in the hangar ready to get mounted to hard points under PA aircraft wings. Military pilots chase targets and learn electronic attack (EA), electronic countermeasures (ECM) and radar-communications jamming.

Another successful evacuation soon followed when Phoenix Air rescued Nancy Writebol, an American missionary worker who had contracted Ebola. She was evacuated and brought back to the US on another GIII flight.

Now working closely with the State Dept, the contract with Phoenix Air stipulates that the company must be ready to launch within 12 hours notification of a mission. As of this writing time in early Dec, Phoenix Air has completed 19 successful Ebola evacuations and is the only charter activity that has a specialized contract with the State Dept to conduct Ebola rescue airlifts, mainly because they have both the isolation capability and the experience in handling contagious patients aboard charter aircraft.

Success in such worldwide air ambulance services did not come overnight but really from blending 20 years of experience in international patient care flights. The Phoenix Air flying ambulance program is licensed by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS), the gold standard for air ambulance operators.

Phoenix Force Gray Birds

Phoenix Force Learjets flying in formation on a military sortie mission providing combat threat training for military fighter aircraft, ship crews and air surveillance units.

Phoenix Air's military contracting division – the Phoenix Force – is also known as the Gray Birds, mainly because of the color of the aircraft. It's a world leader in providing real-time threat training for military fighter aircraft, ships and air surveillance units. This proven and affordable training wing utilizes a fleet of highly modified Learjets and Gulfstream I turboprops to help simulate wartime scenarios to train military pilots and combat personnel.

For over 20 years Phoenix Air has contracted with the US Dept of Defense (DoD), NATO and other military activities around the world to provide realistic electronic attack (EA) electronic countermeasures (ECM), aerial target towing for live fire training, radar and communications jamming and other threat representative training services for air-to-air and surface-to-air operators.

Gray Birds pilots experience an exciting variety of missions, like flying at 100 ft crossing the bow of an Aegis combat ship at 300 kts, knowing a gunner below is tracking them with a Phalanx gun. Phoenix Force pilots receive extensive training in threat simulation and electronic attack profiles as well as formation flying, low-level flight and typical tactics employed by both bombers and fighters. Phoenix Force has logged more than 200,000 flight hours in support of military training requirements.

Hazardous materials air cargo flying done by Phoenix Air

Gulfstream I turboprops are used by Phoenix Air in their teaching program for electronic warfare aircraft training (EWAT). Specialized use of these GIs is mainly for airborne high-power radar and communications jamming as well as for other special missions. PA operates 7 GI TPs.

In April 2004, Phoenix Air was one of the first civilian charter operators with N-numbered aircraft to fly into Libya. The crew flew a man from the Dept of Energy—and a barrel—and landed in Tripoli. They loaded up to return to the US with the DOE man and the barrel. Only this time the man was sweeping the barrel with a Geiger counter to check for radioactivity.

They landed back in the States on a Thursday evening and the following morning President George W Bush announced he was easing economic sanctions against Libya. This was based on the report from the DOE man with his barrel and it is one example of the many unique and challenging missions Phoenix Air conducts for the US Government.

Phoenix Air holds special permits authorizing this unusual charter activity to transport by air various types of hazardous materials. With over 25 years of experience in transporting explosives to destinations around the world, Phoenix Air is the most recognized name in the hazardous materials carriage business among foreign governments and regulatory agencies.

In addition to United States licensing to carry explosives and other hazardous materials, Phoenix Air holds carriage licenses for hazmat flying in 6 other countries with general worldwide operating authority.

Key personnel at Phoenix Air

Dent Thompson–vp and COO

He is the older brother of Phoenix Air Founder & President Mark Thompson. It was 10 years after Mark founded the company in 1973 that Dent came aboard in 1983 to run the business operations side. His main focus has been on obtaining permits and licenses and spearheading new programs.

Dent earlier had gone to Andrew College in GA and graduated with a degree in journalism. He began his writing career at Walt Disney World in Orlando and was involved in the plans and opening of Epcot Center in 1982. But after 13 years as a writer Dent was ready for a change. He returned to Atlanta to join his brother Mark at Phoenix Air.

Since mid 2014 75% of Dent's jobs have been assignments managing the air transport efforts for Ebola patient evacuations. In addition to coordinating the Ebola work, Dent still has to manage normal business operations as well as forge ahead on new expansions.

He has been leading the way for Phoenix Air to get involved in the operation of drones and other UAVs. Applications to FAA from Phoenix Air for UAV work include everything from cell-tower inspections to agriculture.


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