The Liberty Gazette
July 13, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: 13-year old Charlie sat in the back seat of the old white Cessna 172. It was a short flight, maybe thirty minutes, but it changed his life. “I got to have me one of these,” would stay on his mind for nearly forty years. Then on July 4, 2006, Dayton resident Charlie Sisk, owner of Sisk Rifles, bought his first airplane, a 1957 Cessna 182.
He began primary flight training at the Cleveland airport until his first solo flight, then finished at Georgetown, and took his private pilot check ride at Brownwood airport.
Charlie talked close friend, Aaron Baker, owner of Cannon Safe, into learning to fly. When Aaron earned his private pilot license he knew he didn’t want to be limited to flying under Visual Flight Rules only, so the two discussed instrument training so they wouldn’t be grounded on rainy days, giving them the freedom and mobility both businessmen needed. Aaron made Charlie an offer he couldn’t refuse: he’d pay for the course if Charlie would take it first, and then help him through it. November 2007 Charlie began an accelerating instrument training course and earned his instrument rating in just ten days.
Linda: Charlie Sisk doesn’t let any grass grow under his feet. He’s down-to-earth, logical, and real smart. He’s got an uncanny understanding of human behavior and he “gets it” about life and how to treat others. If something isn’t worth pursuing, he knows when to walk away. His personality sets the tone for his book, “Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle,” which is really a lot about life in general, and very entertaining reading.
He relies heavily on his airplane for business, philanthropy, and an occasional pleasure trip, so if he wasn’t going to let his abilities limit him, he sure wasn’t going to let the airplane limit him either; he needed more instruments and an IFR certified GPS to use on bad weather days. In a sweet deal, he traded a custom rifle to Aaron, who traded a gun safe to someone else for a Garmin 430W, a really good IFR GPS that can get a pilot down pretty close to the runway when the clouds and visibility are low. The new GPS, along with a new autopilot, meant more possible flying days for Charlie.
A typical productive day for Sisk Rifles: fly to Carrizo Springs, deliver a rifle, fly to San Antonio, deliver a rifle, fly to Austin, deliver a rifle, and be home by 6 p.m. “Carrizo Springs is six hours one way by car. I couldn’t offer this kind of customer service without an airplane. Until you have a plane and learn what you can do with it, you really don’t know how valuable it is until you use it. You can’t put a dollar figure on that kind of personal service,” Charlie says of using his airplane to promote his product and deliver to customers. “These days it seems the notion of customer service is all but gone. Yet it has never been more important.”
Mike: Charlie Sisk is one of those rare individuals who understands that what’s good for business is good for life, and vice-versa. That same drive he has for superior customer service shows up in his philanthropic endeavors as well. We’ll write more on those endeavors next week. Meanwhile, check out his website: www.siskguns.com.