About Us

Gary Hamilton, Owner

Gary Hamilton, Owner

Airworx founded on the values of integrity and honesty is supported by years of vast and wide-ranging experience. Focused on the needs of those customers wanting to enhance the enjoyment and reduce the frustration of boat and airplane ownership. My customers want their airplane and boat to be ready to go when they are without having to deal with the inevitable mechanical, structural and cosmetic issues. They want their vessels to sail and their airplanes to fly. My job is to assure the equipment can perform that task safely and on time.

The details leading to the formation of this enterprise is a rather long story and if you are truly interested in its history and development read on:

In the Foothills of the Smokey Mountains, along the creeks and streams of the Tennessee River system is a wonderful place to experience childhood. The natural beauty of the countryside instills a respect for earth. The values and ethics of the people in this region are proudly passed on to the children. It is this respect, these values, that honesty that I hope people will see in my work and me.

Interest in aviation came at an early age for me. My uncle ignited that curiosity with his war stories and visits to the local air base. My interest in mechanics is harder to pin point but may have been influenced by other visits to the airport. My father is the local barber in town and my first job was as the shoeshine boy in his shop. Some of the barbershop customers were mechanics at the airport. Dad and I went to the airport on occasions and these guys showed the little shoeshine boy around the shop. Like many kids I was intrigued by machines and why they worked, or didn’t. There were plenty of Popular Mechanics magazines at the barbershop and when I was not shining shoes I was reading books and magazines. When I became a teenager I started working on a neighbors farm. As a farm boy I had ample opportunity to learn about the working end of a wrench and for some reason just took to it. Operating the equipment I worked on seemed natural. It was not so much that I wanted to drive the tractor but more how to drive the tractor. It is kind of the same with piloting airplanes. I was not attracted to the lofty heights, though that is a very pretty view. The attraction was operating the machine, same for boats. For me running a backhoe can be as satisfying as flying a jet. Just a little dirtier.

Mechanic Experience continued after high school. I joined the Air Force but my enlistment was postponed for military tech school dates. It was during this delay that a friend of mine called and wanted me to look at a car with him. It was a ‘66 MGB (British sports car) that had transmission problems and some body damage. The owner, for some reason, had completely disassembled the car and then was unable to repair or reassemble it. I discouraged my friend from the purchase because I knew he would never figure out how all those parts fit together. After thinking about it for a day or two, I bought the car myself. Mostly what I bought was parts in cardboard boxes. After figuring out where all those parts went plus syncing the carbs by sight, sound and feel (because I could not afford gauges) the car was sold for a nice profit. Still today I keep running into those cardboard box jobs and each time I fondly remember that little MGB and focus on the satisfaction of the finished job. Not getting overwhelmed by the immensity of a job, but staying focused on the task at hand plus choosing that task by prioritizing is part of what makes a good mechanic better. The MGB experience combined restoration into my mechanical mind and also exposed me to the fact that there was money to be made here. But first, the Air Force.

The military service will also make a good mechanic better. The training is incomparable. Maybe because of the intensity. In basic training I learned discipline. In tech school I learned about tools that I didn’t have a clue even existed. Electronics, multi-meters, torque wrenches, safety this, safety that, safety wire, safety glasses, safety and some more safety. My assigned base was Minot North Dakota. One afternoon I was wandering around the local airport and saw a mechanic working on a Twin Cessna C-310. After watching him for awhile I asked if he needed any help. He said, do you know how to safety wire. I got to it and when finished realized that I had been helping the shop’s lead mechanic. All that safety wire made a positive impression and landed me a part time job that continued throughout my Air Force enlistment.

Aviation had set it’s hook and my time in North Dakota was spent learning all I could in both military and civilian schools even traveling to other states to attend training and certification programs. I gained technical experience from the Air Force as well as the employment at the local FBO. That desire to operate the machine also took hold and I learned to fly an airplane. Minot is a great place to learn to fly. The people have a good sense of right and wrong, willingness to help and a love of life. That coupled with the weather of the region resulted in a flight training experience that would be hard to duplicate.

During this time in Minot I purchased a partially refurbished Taylorcraft which I completed and then used for part of my flight training. Mainly the work consisted of mechanical/annual type items and some fabric work. I flew that Taylorcraft for six months and sixty hours using it to study and understand concepts in the book “Stick and Rudder” by Wolfgang Langewitz. The little airplane was then sold for a profit. With this experience, I realized that equipment refurbishing and sales (like the MGB) was something that I enjoyed doing. It was also when I learned to love flying.

After the Air Force I continued flying plus started an aircraft instrument shop refurbishing pilots panels, fixing gyros and altimeters along with pitot-static inspections. After a few years in the instrument business I noticed that the trend was moving toward larger shops and that those large operators were starting to control the replacement parts supply. An opportunity came along to sell the shop and I figured the time was right. I sold the business and spent a few years as a freelance mechanic/pilot working to promote my values and support my family.

I have had my hand in aviation every since, over thirty-five years.  As a pilot, I have experience in many aircraft from J-3s to DC-3s to Learjets. Not just a couple of circuits around the patch but 350 hours in taildraggers, 1250 hours in jets and 2250 hours as a flight instructor. I have had the opportunity to experience many different aspects of aviation from flying jets in the Northeast Corridor (one of my favorites), ocean flights using HF for communications, international charters and logistic support for freedom fighters in the jungles of Central and South America. That’s a lot of pilot experience for a mechanic. As a mechanic, I gained experience in the military in hydraulics, pneumatics, rigging, and as a crew chief for a ten-man team. Then as a maintenance controller for five repair sections scheduling and coordinating maintenance/ repair of aircraft. In the civilian world, I gained general shop experience in sheet metal and fabric repair, painting and refinishing using various products and procedures. I have personally completed over thirty engine overhauls. Repaired composite parts and completed the construction of a fiberglass airplane. Worked on helicopters, attended Hughes TH-55A, 269 and 300 school. Then in 1987, I received Inspection Authorization and started a shop rebuilding damaged aircraft and doing annual inspections.

Prior to deciding to go back into business as a mechanic in 1987, I received some management experience in the Commuter Airline world at Tennessee Airways. I gained five years experience as Director of Operations and Chief Pilot in the scheduled passenger and charter/air freight operations. Those responsibilities included supervising over twenty flight crew members, operating six turbo-prop E-110 Embraer Bandeirante airplanes and coordinating all phases of operations, crew training and procedures. Additional responsibilities included working as an RII inspector for the company. Similar experiences are the initial certification of an FAR 135 Air Taxi for The Chase Corporation and a FAR 145 Repair Station for Aircraft Instruments of Tennessee, Inc.

My management experience reached a new level in the 90s. I went to a small grass airport near my home in Tennessee to restore a Citabria. I stayed at that airport for ten years. My wife and I managed the airport and the 300 member flying club at the airport. We operated the maintenance shop for airplanes and the airport related equipment. During our time there, we totally reorganized the management structure of the airport and the club. We revitalized not only the finances but also the airplanes, the facilities and even the sod on the runway. The previous lack of management at the airport and club led to the airport property being sold by the City shortly after our arrival in a closed bid auction so my first major management task was the development and organization of a bond issue to finance the purchase of the property. We won the bid by a slim 5% margin. That little island is an airport today because of the efforts of a few people and I take great pride in being a part of the accomplishment. The time there taught me much about people and projects.

My mechanic and my pilot experience  reached a new level at the turn of the century. One of the club members from Tennessee hired me to oversee the building of an experimental all composite amphibian airplane. The job took my wife and I to central Alabama. The airplane was a Seawind and the initial building work that took place at the factory left the airplane with a twisted vertical tail surface. The first group to work on the airplane needed help solving numerous problems with systems and aerodynamics. I spent months identifying and correcting problems in that bird. The EAA held a class on flight testing that I attended and the instructor (a former test pilot school instructor) helped me enormously in my efforts to understand why that airplane was doing what it was doing and to correct those problems. When we were finished, a Seawind instructor pilot said that this Seawind was as well balanced as any airplane in the fleet. By the completion of this project I was not only confident in my understanding of systems and aerodynamics but the love of flight had been reignited. An associate had put me in touch with a Learjet operator in North Florida and we moved to the Sunny State to fly and work on jets.

Events of September 2001 changed many peoples lives. Ours included. The jets and everything else was grounded. But by Thanksgiving that year I had another job working as a pilot and mechanic in a corporate flight department. After five years managing a Golden Eagle and Mitsubishi I returned to jets and carried what seemed like every person that had ever appeared on the cover of the National Inquirer, was considered a champion, rock star or celebrity in one industry or another. I worked all that I could in those days preparing for the downturn that everyone knew was coming and in June 2009 I got the layoff notice.

The company flew me back home and when I told my wife she asked me to make her two promises: not to take her to Alaska and to try to keep her in Panama City. This was during the time when the Panama City airport was relocating and most all of the local airplanes had moved to airports in other towns. In other words, it seemed like you could count the airplanes in town on your fingers. But you could drive down any street in town and count just as many boats on those same fingers. Moreover, that went for every street in town so, it was time to look into boats and I was lucky enough to get into a marine maintenance program at the local Tech School. The program had an excellent instructor and he helped me re-hone my aviation mechanic experience into marine mechanic skills. The two fields are remarkably similar and after graduation, I felt confident to begin offering marine services in addition to my aviation services. During this same time an old friend of mine, when I told him I had been laid off, said, “well this is a good time to finish your Captain’s License”. I had help this Captain off and on for years with his boat, airplane and helicopter adventures and so I spent some time getting current by working as a deckhand on his boats and attending Sea School. I had been around boats all my life as Dad is an avid freshwater angler and my earliest memories from childhood are of boating. That addition to my marine credentials came in handy during the disastrous oil leak in the Mississippi Canyon Area of the Gulf of Mexico. Much of that oil spill work was a sad experience but we all worked together and someday nature will be back in balance. I feel my experience in aviation and marine is also well balanced.

The plan for Airworx is to offer this experience and these values to my customers. The goal is to help others with their marine and aviation needs. My mechanix customers are those folks who enjoy operating a well maintained and dependable vessel. My Captain customers want a safety first skilled operator at the controls. My students are eager for new experiences and want to become the best they can be and to enjoy life’s adventures.