As Dominion Aviation’s maintenance services have grown, it makes sense now to focus separately on retail maintenance and the on charter and aircraft management fleet, said Dominion Aviation CEO Mike Mickel. This is to assure each group will receive undistracted attention and enjoy a better customer experience.
Jimmy Hembree, a Dominion veteran, now runs the Part 145 Repair Station, which serves owner-operator customers, including the large piston fleet. Frank Wisnieski, a recent hire, oversees the more specialized demands of maintaining Dominion’s charter and management fleet.
Wisnieski and a full-time assistant work full-time on the charter aircraft and use two of Hembree’s mechanics on a contract basis.
Meanwhile, longtime maintenance director Tony Nunes decided this was a good time to pursue another opportunity. “I’m very grateful for Tony’s dedicated service and friendship over the years,” remarked Mickel, “and I wish him lots of success.”
Hembree, 40, comes to the job through years of experience, driven by a lifelong fascination.
“I’ve always liked mechanical things,” he explained. Growing up in Newport News and Yorktown, “I raced go-karts for several years in middle school and high school and I’ve always enjoyed working on things.”
When it was time for college, Hembree chose Hampton University, where he earned an A&P certificate and a Bachelor’s in Aircraft Maintenance.
After gaining experience at a couple of other shops, he joined Dominion Aviation June 21, 2001, as a mechanic, then rose through subsequent years to lead mechanic and shop manager.
The Dominion Maintenance Department includes 15 mechanics, plus an office staff of five. When he joined Dominion, Hembree said, most of the customers were based here. Now the shop has added a sizeable group of customers who bring their airplanes from other parts of the state.
Hembree said his favorite part of the job is “working with customers and talking about their airplanes. I also enjoy talking with employees. I’m a people person.”
Near-term priorities, he said, begin with staffing up for expansion. Other projects in the works include adding a radio repair station certificate, so that Dominion can offer a full range of avionics service, and finalizing the single-engine Part 135 structure to offer air taxi services in a Cirrus.
Frank Wisnieski, 47, spent 23 years as an Air Force mechanic and crew chief, then worked as a Part 135 (charter) director of maintenance. He’s a CrossFit enthusiast and 5k runner and looks the part.
A Massachusetts native, he went from high school to the Air Force and learned his skills there. He maintained B-52s, B-1s, C-130s and KC-135s at stations all over the US and the world. Upon leaving the Air Force, he landed first at Dynamic Aviation, which operates a modification and maintenance center in Bridgewater, Virginia. He joined Dominion Aviation a month ago.
The regulations and procedures aren’t that different in civil and military aviation, he said, but the motivations are different. In the military “people do it for the love of country. The guys here do it because they love airplanes. The sense of pride in what they put out is awesome.”
As head of maintenance for Dominion’s charter department, he said, “I had to be vetted by the FAA to be on the Part 135 certificate. Fortunately, I’d gone through that in my last job.”
Wisnieski said he looks forward to adding airplanes to the charter fleet. His goals, he added, will always be “good service, quality maintenance and 100% dispatch reliability.”