Forty Under 40: Walt Hunnicutt

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Walt Hunnicutt, 38, traded grad school for flight school and hasn’t looked back since.

He grew up around aviation with his father an aeronautical engineer, but felt flying was an incredibly elite activity.

“It took until after college to figure out it was something anyone could do if they want,” he said.

He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1992 with degrees in philosophy of science and mass communications before moving to Ann Arbor, Mich., for graduate school.

Instead, he began flight training and two years later was an instructor in Dayton, Ohio. He began flying Lear Jets in 1996, a job he continued until 1999 before moving into management with Airnet Systems and its Jetride division.

Pinnacle Air of Rogers purchased Jetride in 2006 and Hunnicutt moved to Bella Vista in March 2007. Last fall, Jetride purchased Aspen Executive Air.

Hunnicutt, like his wife, an amateur triathlete, now handles operations for the entire fleet worth well more than $100 million, but his biggest pride is in the 20 million accident-free miles the Argus platinum-rated companies have logged.

“We have successfully molded four very discrete corporate cultures into one organization,” Hunnicutt said. “We haven’t had a hiccup and that’s all about the team.”