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PRIESTER AVIATION Charles Priester is the chairman of Priester Aviation, a private aviation company based at Chicago Executive Airport that specializes in global charter and aircraft management. The Priester name has been synonymous with air travel in the northwest suburbs since Charles’ father, George, purchased the field in 1953. At the time, the runways were made of cinders and the longest one was 2,800 feet long. Over the next 33 years, the family firm expanded the size of the airport; paved runways; added lights; and constructed 10 corporate hangars. An instrument approach was established, and the 5,000-foot paved runway constructed in 1961. By 1965 several corporate hangars had been built and in 1967 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commissioned an air traffic control tower at the airport. Improvements continued through the 1970s and early 1980s until Palwaukee Airport, as it was called then, was named the busiest privately-owned airfield in the world in 1983. Shortly thereafter, the Priesters began the process of negotiating the sale of the airport to the neighboring communities of Wheeling and Prospect Heights so they could focus on aircraft management and jet charter. “We are aviation people. We wanted Palwaukee to remain an airport because it was in a great location and since we knew that it couldn’t remain an airport if it was privately-owned, we sold it,” he recalled. Ownership formally changed in late 1986 and around the same time the Priesters also sold their Fixed Base Operations (FBO) business that provided necessary services to the aviation community. Charles Priester ran the operation for the owners and after one year was invited to join the ownership group. In 2001, the remaining partners sold the FBO to Signature Flight Support

to focus on growing the aircraft management and global charter business. Charles and his son, Andy, the firm’s current president and CEO, have built Priester Aviation into a force to be reckoned with in the private aviation field. They now employ nearly 300 people and have a fleet of 60 advanced business jets strategically positioned around the world, about a dozen of which are based at Chicago Executive Airport. They currently are experiencing exceptional growth in satellite locations including Texas and New York City, Charles said. In addition, Priester offers a comprehensive aircraft management service for those individuals and corporations that own their own aircraft. They provide administration, trip coordination, crew scheduling, flight operations, crew training, regulatory oversight, risk management and maintenance coordination.

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