1. Home
  3. Burkentine flight department

Burkentine flight department


Mixed fleet of Citation XLS and Airbus EC135 supports Pennsylvania-based real estate group.

By Rafael Henríquez
Managing Editor


The Burkentines recognize the value of business aviation. Mike compares their Textron Citation XLS and Airbus EC135 helicopter to time machines, because they save valuable time when visiting construction sites that are not easily accessible using scheduled airlines.

Paul Burkentine and his wife Rajean started their first business venture in Hanover PA in 1989, after Paul earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Engineering Science from Loyola University. Paul and Rajean immediately started to look for land to develop, building one home at a time.

The Burkentines’ Citation XLS landing at DMW (Carroll Co, Westminster MD).

The Burkentine’s business took off, and within 5 years they were building 30 homes per year. During this time, Paul and Rajean had 3 sons – Michael, Bryan, and Bryce. This  truly marked the beginning of the Burkentine legacy.

Having experienced exponential growth in such a short period of time, Paul expanded his business opportunities to land development, residential rental properties, and commercial rental properties.

Today, the company has expanded to Burkentine Real Estate Group, and has grown into multiple companies that cover residential home building, engineering, land development, residential rental properties, commercial rental properties, property management, and storage units.

Paul’s motto has always been “Whatever the mind believes and conceives, it will achieve.” In 2022,  he was recognized by the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal as one of their Power 30 for Real Estate and Construction.

Under favorable circumstances, including great leadership and a healthy economy, the company has grown out of the state, especially over the past 5 years, and now has presence in Maryland, Connecticut, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with more than 1300 houses that will be ready for families to move into this year.

“We are now a vertically integrated company,” explains Burkentine Real Estate Group Co-owner Mike Burkentine. “We do everything, from buying the land and securing the rights to develop it, to building horizontal projects, roads, curbs, and utilities for our communities. We have our own property managers. And we have our own service and warranty.”

Aviation Dept Mgr Robert Frederick has led the flight operation since it started in 2022.

Flight department

With this expansion, air travel became a necessity. Scheduled airlines worked just fine at the beginning, but executives eventually started using charter providers. “We had a great experience with them,” says Mike.

“But we created the flight department because we needed to invest in our own time machine, and the closest thing to a time machine is private aviation.”

Mike continues, “The Covid-19 pandemic spurred our interest in business aviation. Being safe and having the freedom to travel when we need to were really compelling arguments.” So, with help from good advisors, the Burkentine Real Estate Group acquired a Textron Aviation Cessna Citation XLS and an Airbus EC135 helicopter, and chose DMW (Carroll County, Westminster MD) as its base airport, where the company currently leases a hangar.

Flight Department Manager Robert Frederick has been at the head of the aviation section since its inception. “We’ve been operating for a little over a year,” he says. “The Burkentines weren’t receiving the type of service that they wanted, so they purchased the Citation XLS in February 2022, and we started operating it about a month later.”

With the exception of the military, Frederick has flown for various activities. After earning his pilot ratings, he became a flight instructor. He’s also been a general aviation operations inspector for FAA, and has flown for Cessna, a few airlines, and other corporate flight departments.

Helicopter PIC David Curci believes the flight department will expand the company’s reach with more aircraft coming in the future.

He became aware that the Burkentine Real Estate Group was looking for a aircraft to start a flight department, so he expressed interest through an acquaintance.

“When it came time, they interviewed me and I was offered the position,” he says. “I started from the time they bought the airplane, and we’ve built everything since then. It’s been an intensive year, with more than 450 flight hours. We’re proud because we started from nothing and here we are today.”

Frederick has logged more than 13,000 flight hours, and is involved in every aspect of the flight department, from aircraft scheduling to pilot training. “There’s a lot going on around here, but we’re at the point where we have systems and procedures in place,” he adds.

Second in command is Pilot Ed Stence. His aviation career started 25 years ago, when his wife gave him flight lessons as a Christmas present. “It was a slippery slope from there,” he says. “I got all my ratings, I instructed for a while, and flew with a charter activity run by the flight school.” This led Stence to his first corporate job, flying for a construction company for about 5 years. Then he did contract work for a company that had a Citation XLS until they moved the flight department to Florida.

Airbus EC135

He joined the Burkentine flight department when Director of Maintenance Tom Copper reached out to introduce him to Frederick. “We met at the hangar and talked for a few minutes,” Stence remembers. “A couple of weeks later, Frederick called me and asked me if I was interested in helping.”

Although aviation was not his full-time job until recently, Stence has logged more than 1600 hours TT.

Gettysburg PA native Jim Adair completes the pilot crew for the Citation XLS. He holds ATP and CFII licenses, and has 13,500-plus hours TT. He was chief pilot at his previous flight department before joining the Burkentine Real Estate Group. “Bob Frederick’s background as ultimate professional lead me to inquire into flying as assistant pilot under his leadership,” says Adair.

The Burkentines’ Citation XLS supports trips to areas where the group has active and prospective projects, transporting key people at least once a month to destinations such as BDL (Bradley Intl, Windsor Locks CT), ILM (Wilmington NC), RDU (Raleigh-Durham Intl, NC), SRQ (Sarasota FL), ISM (Kissimmee FL), OPF (Opa-locka FL), HSV (Huntsville AL), and BNA (Nashville TN).

SIC Edward Stence had experience flying a Citation XLS before joining the Burkentines.

At these airports, the team chooses FBOs based on Corporate Aircraft Association fuel prices, so they frequent Atlantic Aviation BDL, Modern Aviation ILM, Signature RDU, Dolphin Aviation SRQ, Odyssey Aviation ISM, and Fontainebleau Aviation OPF.

Rotary-wing ops

Leading the rotary-wing side of flight operations is Helicopter Pilot in Command David Curci. He holds commercial helo, instrument, and CFI ratings, and has logged 5200 hours since he started flying for the US Army in 1981.

Before joining the Burkentine Real Estate Group, Curci flew medevac missions for Air Methods, serving Lehigh Valley Hospital in the Allentown PA area.

Curci says that the company’s Airbus EC135 is used for both personal and business related trips within a 75-nm radius of DMW. Typical destinations include New York City, Penn State University, and multiple construction projects.

Flight hours on the EC135 have averaged 10 per month, but Curci sees that growing in the near future. “The company has seen the value of the flight department and what it offers in the way of time management and accessibility to job sites,” he adds. “I definitely see the Burkentine Real Estate Group’s flight program growing in usage and adding more sophisticated equipment.”

First Officer James Adair enjoys the company’s leadership style.

Aircraft scheduling

Aviation Assistant Elise Yocum takes care of human resources duties for the Burkentine Real Estate Group. Her first approach to aviation came in May 2022, when she started working with the flight department as well.

“I work closely with Frederick,” she says. “He taught me how to use FltPlan, which is what we use for scheduling. I also work closely with the Burkentines, and that has helped to figure out the best communication process that we could. Everything has worked really well.”

In addition to using FltPlan, the flight department uses an app called Flight Tracker, which is programmed directly to company flights. With this app, Yocum can track the flight from departure to arrival, so she has an idea of when the passengers will
be arriving at their destination.

This way she can check in with FBOs to have accommodations ready, such as rental cars or other means of transportation.

Director of Maintenance Tom Copper has been instrumental to the flight department’s success. He manages and tracks all aspects of maintenance for the Citation XLS and Airbus EC135 using Traxall.

“The company is investing in my formation as a member of the flight department, and I know I can grow with more training and experience,” says Yocum.


The Burkentine Real Estate Group is a self made company that remains self funded. It’s run by the second generation of Burkentines, and there’s a third generation coming up, with 7 grandkids. “All of our kids are under the age of 5. This is very exciting for us,” remarks Mike about the company’s future.

Mike adds, “We’ve been exploring new territories. Although we are so busy on the east coast and are doing well there, we certainly intend to expand to the west coast. We’ve looked at Colorado and Texas, just to name a couple.”

Consequently, the flight department is considering a business jet with better range. “Mike and the family were looking at super midsize jets,” says Frederick.

“We’ve looked at Citation Latitudes and Longitudes, Bombardier Challenger 3500, and Gulfstream G280 aircraft.” However, due to the worldwide supply chain disruption and new aircraft back orders, the new aircraft may not arrive until the next couple of years, so there is a possibility of an interim airplane.

Aviation Assistant Elise Yocum uses FltPlan for aircraft scheduling and Flight Tracker to make sure passenger have what they need when they arrive at their destination.

With new markets in the horizon, more capable aircraft slated to join the fleet, eager leadership, and a new generation coming up, the circumstances seem to remain favorable for the Burkentine Real Estate Group’s future.