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Executive Q&A: Chief of Yukon-based Legacy Aviation flies high over acquisition

Executive Q&A: Venezuelan native R.J. Gomez, president of Legacy Aviation Services Inc., set out to become a pilot, but changed course for aircraft maintenance. Leacy is acquiring Mid-Continent Airmotive.
BY PAULA BURKES, Business Writer Published: August 31, 2014

Effective Tuesday, Yukon-based Legacy Aviation Services Inc. will acquire Mid-Continent Airmotive Inc., Legacy chief executive R.J. Gomez told The Oklahoman last week.

Legacy and Mid-Continent both lease land and hangars at C.E. Page Airport from Oklahoma City for the maintenance of twin turbine and jet aircraft. But where 9-year-old Legacy ranks No. 2 among Twin Commander service centers, 37-year-old MidContinent focuses on Citation and King Air planes.

“We expect the merger to bring more business to the airport, and more maintenance traffic to us,” said Gomez, who’s flying high about the acquisition.

Gomez in 2005 was managing the financially-strapped Downtown Airpark, when it closed and put 75 experienced people out of work. Weeks later, he and some 20 of his former colleagues had Legacy off the ground.

Last year, annual revenues totaled $6 million, Gomez said. With the acquisition, the company, he said, will employ roughly 30.

Gomez, 53, sat down recently to talk about his life and career. This is an edited transcript:

Q: Tell us about your roots.

A: I’m a native of Venezuela, and grew up in Caracas with two older brothers and two younger sisters. An attorney, our father was an 18-year congressman of a Venezuelan state and later, a two-term governor. Growing up, I played baseball; shortstop and second base, and we did a lot of boating and fishing on the ocean. My dad died in Venezuela when I was starting Legacy. My mother and sisters still live there, and visit every few years. My brothers are both pilots; one works for the singer Julio Iglesias in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the other for a commercial airline in the Middle East.

Q: What sparked your and your brothers’ interests in the aviation industry?

A: My father was an attorney for a firm that operated a 690A Commander and he’d usually take along me or one of my brothers on business trips. Consequently, we all, from an early age, wanted to become pilots. My dad wanted me to be an attorney. He thought of pilots as highly-paid drivers.

Q: You started college at the University of Oklahoma and graduated from Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa. What brought you to Oklahoma for college?

A: After I graduated high school, my father thought I was having too much fun partying; he was ready for me to do something with my life. My older brother was flying to Oklahoma to pick up a brand-new Twin Commander for a commercial customer. My father told him to take me with him and look for a school I could attend. In January 1979, I enrolled at OU, in an eight-month program to learn English. I’d studied English growing up, but couldn’t really converse. I had to rely on hand signals to open a checking account in Norman, so my dad could wire me money for college. I spent nearly two years studying English and then business administration at OU, before transferring to Spartan. I convinced my dad that I was pursuing aviation airframe and power plant mechanics. But truthfully, I was more interested in getting my private pilot’s license, which at that time was included in the curriculum. I did earn my license but soon let it lapse. Once I got into the program, I forgot about flying and became more interested in the business side of aviation.

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PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Position: President/general manager, Legacy Aviation Services

Website: legacy-aviation.com

Birthplace and birth date: Caracas, Venezuela; July 7, 1961

Family: wife, Millie: children Alejandro, 28, who runs Legacy’s office in Miami, Fla.; R.G., 22, and Maria, 20, who are students at Florida International University

Church: Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church

Education: Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, bachelor’s in aviation technology

For fun: boating, fishing, relaxing and cooking out with friends on Grand Lake

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