Friday, June 14, 2024

Flying High with Horton Aviation

January 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Highlights

James Horton

With movie audiences buzzing about “Red Tails” — the thrilling story of the heroic Tuskegee Airmen, and their pivotal role in defeating Nazi Germany in WWII — interest in African-American aviators has never been higher.
This is good news for James Horton, who must see it as long-overdue validation of the enthusiasm that spawned his own business. Occupying 10,000 square feet of hangar space at the North Las Vegas Airport, where it can accommodate up to 10 planes at one time, Horton Aviation Services is the oldest standing aviation company is Nevada. Its customer base consists of doctors and other affluent professionals who own their own aircraft.
“I have been in business since February 1991, and after my tenure in the Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base, I knew that I had a deep love for flying and aviation,” explained Horton, who has four children with Robin, his wife of 13 years. “I went to work at Hughes Aviation Services before starting my own company, which services everything dealing with aviation — including avionics, aircraft maintenance, refurbishing and total rebuilding of a plane.”
As for the relatively small number of black Nevadans in the field of aviation, Horton hopes to see some change in the near future. Should that occur, he’ll be a big part of it: He is dedicated to exposing the next generation of young people to the industry.
“We have an apprentice program, and currently an 18-year-old young man is in it,” Horton said. “His father told me he was interested in aviation, so he has showed us his passion, and we are teaching him technique and the mechanics of a plane.” In addition, Rancho High School also offers a training program that provides students with a solid foundation from which to pursue careers in aviation.
When he’s not working in the hangar, Horton enjoys piloting his own private plane — particularly when it allows him to take his family on vacation. They have flown as far as New Jersey to visit family, but he acknowledges that the economics of leisure flight don’t always add up for everyone.
“Airplane fuel costs $5.66 a gallon, and a single-engine plane like mine holds 80 gallons — that is [more than] $400 just to fly up to San Diego and back. In comparison to flying on a commercial airline, where I can get two round-trip tickets for $100 each,” Horton said. “This makes a big difference, and might be related to why there are only a handful of African-Americans in aviation. When I first started flying, fuel was only $2 a gallon. You could just hop in your plane and go.”

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