PHOENIX, Arizona – Third generation family owned businesses are not very common these days, much less one that has been in business and prospered for 90 years.
Cutter Aviation is one such business.
William P. Cutter started the company in 1928 when he flew into Albuquerque as a traveling barnstormer, met a girl and knew he had to stay.
He opened his business under the name Cutter Flying Service.
In the early years, the company only offered air charter to reach ranches, towns and businesses scattered across the rugged landscapes of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Although times were difficult during the Great Depression, Cutter Flying Service survived by expanding to offer aircraft maintenance, line and fuel services, and aircraft sales to aviators throughout the Southwestern Unites States.
As the first decade wound down in 1938, Cutter began a partnership with Phillips 66 as an aviation fuel dealer, which continues today, making Cutter Aviation the longest-term aviation fuel dealer for Phillips 66.
When much of general aviation and the businesses that supported it came to a halt at the outbreak of World War II, Cutter Flying Service became a pilot training provider from 1941 to 1945 for the United States military. Cutter provided basic flight and glider training and was designated as a Naval Air Training School as part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program at West Mesa Airport in Albuquerque.
As American life returned to normalcy after the war ended, so did Cutter Flying Service.
Cutter began a long-standing affiliation with the Beechcraft Aircraft Corporation in 1947 and remained one of the most successful dealers of new Beechcraft Aircraft for over 62 years, according to company officials.
Along with aircraft sales, Cutter became known for aircraft maintenance supporting Beechcraft and many other aircraft being built during this time, as well as continuing to offer fuel service and on-demand air charter.
The company expanded by opening an FBO at Albuquerque International Sunport in 1947 as activity at West Mesa Airport began to decline, but continued to offer refueling from West Mesa until the late 1950s.
William P’s two sons, Bill and Sid, began helping their father as teenagers and entered the business full time after completing their education.
In 1959 Cutter expanded his business to Arizona when he sent his oldest son Bill to establish a location at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport offering aircraft sales, maintenance and charter. After William P’s passing in the early 1960’s, Bill Cutter ran the Sky Harbor location and his brother Sid ran the Albuquerque facility.
In the early 1970s the Cutter brothers thought it would be a good idea to give their mother a hot air balloon for her birthday. During this time Sid and two other men from Albuquerque started the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, which is the largest balloon convention in the world today.
Sid enjoyed ballooning so much that he opened his own hot air balloon business and decided to leave Cutter Aviation and pursue ballooning full time.
Bill Cutter was handed the reins for both locations and successfully ran them, eventually moving the corporate office to Phoenix.
He then expanded into Texas, establishing an FBO at El Paso International Airport in 1982.
Phoenix Sky Harbor continued to grow and Bill built a brand-new FBO facility on the South Side of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 1988 while consolidating its aircraft sales, maintenance, and charter to the new facility and started providing fuel and line service.
Bill’s son, Will, began working at Cutter Aviation as a teenager just as his father had and, after graduating from college, entered the business full-time. Will enjoyed helping customers with aircraft acquisitions and quickly accepted responsibility to lead the aircraft sales team.
In the mid 1990s the baton was passed from father to son and Will Cutter accepted responsibility to lead all Cutter Aviation business segments.
Will established a second Phoenix facility in 1997 at Deer Valley Airport. A year later Cutter Aviation opened an aircraft maintenance facility to support its Piper Aircraft sales team in Texas at San Antonio International Airport. Not long after Daher TMB and Honda Aircraft Dealerships were added and supported through the San Antonio facility.
Will Cutter continued to expand in 2006 when an FBO facility in Colorado Springs was opened.
Cutter also established a facility in McKinney, Texas, in 2006 which moved to a new site at Addison Airport in the Dallas area in 2013.
Additional aircraft dealerships were added when Cutter Aviation was appointed as a dealer for Honda Aircraft in the Southwestern United States and in 2010 as the dealer in Southern California for Piper Aircraft with a sales office the airport in Carlsbad, California.
The future looks bright for Cutter Aviation to eventually become a fourth generation family owned business. Will Cutter has four children with one already working and learning about this industry and the other three in college completing their educations.