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Big 12 move prompts local charter company to buy jet

Posted: Thursday, Oct 4th, 2012

Photo 1: Jerry Rader, a pilot from Nicholas County, prepares to co-pilot the Citation 5 with McWhorter during a test flight Tuesday afternoon. Photo 2: Mike McWhorter, right, and Brian Mills of Mountain Air Services stand with the company’s newest and biggest plane, a Citation 5 jet capable of seating eight passengers.

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia University’s move to the Big 12 is having far-reaching effects in many industries, and the change has influenced a Buckhannon charter service to go bigger.

Mountain Air Services LLC has added a new item to its charter fleet — and not just any item, a Citation 5 jet capable of flying eight passengers at a time.

The new jet is not on Mountain Air Services’ charter certification just yet, but owner Mike McWhorter anticipates that happening in December.

McWhorter said he decided to purchase the jet after WVU went to the Big 12.

“Clients are looking for trips a little farther away than we can have in our two King Airs,” he said.

The Citation 5 is capable of flying 1,200 nautical miles and reaching speeds of 460 mph depending on the fuel and passenger load.

This means trips to Texas can be a non-stop flight while Las Vegas would require one stop.

The Citation 5 is just the latest addition to Mountain Air Services’ air fleet which includes two Navahos in addition to the two King Air turbo props.

The company offers charter and sightseeing services, aircraft rental, flight instruction, aerial photography and mapping and more.

To inquire about the Citation 5 for a future trip or any of the other planes or services offered, visit www.mountainairservices.com or call Brian Mills at 304-871-9616.

Dick Bennett, airport manager at the Upshur County Regional Airport, said the Citation 5 is the first full jet to be based at the airport.

“I hope it is not our last,” he said.

The airport’s 4,200-foot runway limits the size of aircraft that can land there due to the insurance restrictions for the aircraft, Bennett said.

However, the Citation 5 for Mountain Air Services will not have any problems, according to McWhorter.

“This jet has the ability to meet the performance data needed to get off a runway of this length,” he said.

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