By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Sawyer Aviation Group has won plenty of awards, but Chad Verdaglio is honored to transport donated organs.
Nearly 40% of the Airpark company’s charter flights fly organs and medical transplant teams, the owner and president says.
A pilot for a quarter century, the hands-on executive is improving the way it is done with HALO, which allows for organ transplant coolers to be safely strapped into the bed of the aircraft to keep the container from moving around in flight.
Sawyer Aviation is using HALO for its organ transport flights now and hopes to begin selling its patent-pending device to other aviation companies by late 2022.
“We’re working on a second version of HALO to roll out before the end of the year,” Verdaglio says.
“It calls for safe, legal and convenient transportation of all different types of transplant containers, which can be quite large and unyielding. In the cabin of a small- to mid-sized jet, it can be a problem to get in there.”
The organ transportation is one of many ways in which Sawyer Aviation Group is contributing to the Valley and beyond. The company’s interests vary from flying guests to more than 5,000 airports to providing event space in its hangars.
Honored for work
Verdaglio will be honored on Friday, September 29, at Chateau Luxe as a 2022 Phoenix Titan 100, which recognizes the city’s top 100 CEOs and C-level executives.
“The Titan 100 are shaping the future of the Phoenix business community by building a distinguished reputation that is unrivaled and preeminent in their field,” says Jaime Zawmon, Titan CEO president. “We proudly recognize the Titan 100 for their successes and contributions. We know that they will have a profound impact that makes an extraordinary difference for their customers and clients across the nation.”
Verdaglio adds, “It’s nice to be included and recognized with other Valley business leaders and entrepreneurs. I think it’s proof of the hard work that all of us at Sawyer have been doing.”
Sawyer Aviation Group employs the largest staff of any maintenance, repair and operations provider supporting the Scottsdale airport’s top fleets. Services also include 24/7 dispatch for regional aircraft on ground air and ground mobile-maintenance response, enabling quick and after-hours response.
“We are very proud of our company history and the growth we have achieved,” Verdaglio says.
The full-service aviation company was founded in 1961 and has additional operations and offices out of Van Nuys Airport in California.
It began as a private charter provider and flight school, with Verdaglio purchasing it in 2002. Under his leadership, it expanded its private charter services and flight academy. He’s also added aircraft management and maintenance and aircraft sales and acquisition.
Since 2018 the company has achieved 900% increase in revenues.
Sawyer Aviation Group’s three divisions — aviation, Sawyer flight academy and SawyerMX maintenance — are continuing to grow.
“We’re the largest maintenance provider at Scottsdale Airport, which is the busiest single runaway, non-airline airport in the world.
“We continue to add aircraft to the fleet. Where we fly frequently seems to be expanding, and we’ve continued to grow our team.”
Sawyer Aviation recently tapped Michael Johnson for the position of chief pilot. In his new role, Johnson will continue to fly clients, while also managing company flight crews, training, scheduling and ensuring Sawyer’s team of pilots stay up to date on certifications.
Johnson’s career in aviation spans nearly 50 years, beginning when he was 13 and took a job at a flight school in exchange for flight training.
After graduating high school, Johnson enrolled in a trade school to become an aircraft mechanic, but his life changed course when he joined the Marine Corps instead.
During his time in the Marines, he served more than 11 years on active-duty infantry with five years of combat duty in the Middle East. While serving, he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and professional aeronautics, as well as a master’s in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
As a professional pilot, Johnson has worked for major airlines, charters and as a pilot in the tour industry. He also has extensive experience in air ambulance flight, providing organ transplant transportation, as well as patient and critical care operations. Prior to joining Sawyer Aviation, Johnson was with FlexJet, where he served as lead captain, managing a fleet of airplanes and pilots.
“Michael’s extensive industry experience and knowledge is an asset to Sawyer Aviation, and we are thrilled to have him join our leadership team,” Verdaglio says.
He adds, “It’s cool to work with great people and equally as exciting about what we’re doing and seeing.”
Sawyer Aviation Group Scottsdale Airport (KSDL)
14600 N. Airport Drive, Second Floor Ross Aviation FBO Building Scottsdale
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