The Liberty Gazette
January 26, 2016Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: The Red Barn restaurant had something to do with it - the peppermint ice cream, too; both are inviting to a young boy. Add the intrigue of activity at a grass airfield and the comfort of family Sunday afternoons and the result just may turn out to be the proper recipe for a future pilot.
For as long as he can remember Jason Talley wanted to fly. A smart kid, his grades won him scholarships, and within a couple of years of high school graduation he’d built and sold his first tech company. Four years and three more tech companies later, Mathematics degree in hand, it was time to take a hiatus, and learn to fly.
What would be next for Jason? Greater credentials to back up his experience building successful companies made law school a fitting choice. Besides, if he ever needed a fall-back occupation, he could always practice law.
After passing the State Bar in his home state of Missouri, he passed the Kansas and California Bars. Delightful west coast weather convinced Jason to move his family to California as he continued as a serial entrepreneur, all the while adding to his pilot certificate and ratings, finally earning the highest level pilot license and instructor certificates. Then he bought a jet.
When I asked what he’d want most for people to know about aviation he didn’t hesitate: "That a lot of general aviation pilots have a passion for not only flying, but doing things for others also."
Jason puts his passion to work, and makes a great example. With Veteran’s Air Lift he can get Vets to airports that don’t serve airlines and are closer to where they live.
"Our military veterans have given us the best years of their lives, and general aviation provides a mechanism where we can say ‘Thank you’."
Likewise, with Angel Flights, Jason helps bring people of all ages where they need to be for medical treatment. These special passengers don’t necessarily live far from a major airport served by airlines, but for many riding on an airliner poses a threat to their health, so private flying is a critical solution.
Donating time, fuel, money, and aircraft to fly someone who needs help is near to Jason’s heart, and has given him immense appreciation for small airports. "This outreach ceases to be possible when community airports don’t receive public support."
As a member of the Angel Flights Board of Directors, Jason especially appreciates the annual awards dinners.
"Its so neat to see our volunteer pilots at these dinners, where at each table there is also seated someone who has benefitted from an Angel Flight. When they share their story with the group, you know you gave something of immeasurable value to someone, to their family. Maybe it was a little more time, maybe it was another chance."
Giving someone something they may not have otherwise had, a chance for survival, or more time with their family, is as good for the volunteering pilots as it is for the patients and their loved ones.
As a businessman, Jason couldn’t do what he does with any efficiency if he had to rely on airlines. By flying himself he gets home to his wife and their young sons on his own schedule.
"That’s important," says the boy who loved Sunday afternoon family dinners at the Red Barn restaurant beside the grass strip where small planes took off and landed and the peppermint ice cream was the best in the world.