That was 35 years ago and Bud and Fran were just getting started. A move to Cherokee County Airport (JSO) in 1978 and a brief expansion into Tyler in 1984 were in the future for the devoted couple and parents of six.
The Ridgley children were raised around aviation and for the past twenty years, son Brian has been at the controls, efficiently taking the family's company to new heights.
Brian knows that buying and selling aircraft in today's market demands innovation, determination and devotion to every aspect of your RidgeAire experience. He and his staff continually work to provide clients the opportunity to experience smoother transactions and an impeccable inventory with a wide range of choices.
With such a rich family history in the business, there is no firm better equipped or more knowledgeable to serve your aviation needs today and into the future. RidgeAire has always put their clients first and the corporate slogan remains the same today as it was 35 years ago: "People are More Important Than Airplanes".
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From Vref Market Leader Aircraft Value Reference IV:
"There is definitely a 'What's Hot' group in the tuboprop segment, and it's practically the entire group. Late model Beech King Air C90Bs, B200s, 300s and 350s are up again and continue to be red hot, especially if they are ready for service today. Brian Ridgley of RidgeAire in Texas said it this way, 'Values have stabilized. Buyers will pay top dollar for airplanes that are worthy!' Prices are edging up on most turboprops despite a slight increase in availability from one year ago. According to Jetnet, almost 8% of the B200s are for sale. Last year, less than 7% were available. Just over 10% of the Conquest IIs are on the market, up from 9% a year ago. Even with the very light jet market debut just around the corner, there is no downward pressure on existing turboprops."
Brian Ridgley, President and CEO
I took my first flying lesson when I was 9 years old. Cherokee County Airport (JSO) and aviation in general looked alot different back then. I'm one of those guys that can talk about how things used to be and tell stories with the best of them. Singles, multi, turbine, you name it, I love flying it!
I believe I was destined to become my dad's successor at RidgeAire! It just seemed the natural thing for me to do. Dad patiently nurtured me through an eight year internship following my service in the US Navy and I'll admit, I was impatient at times. Dad wanted to make sure I was ready to take care of our clients.
Today, I'm a husband to Laurissa and the father of Brianna, Macie and Zack. Devoted to God and to my family, I'm also devoted to seeing that the reputation my father has always enjoyed in this business is respected and guarded. It's important to me that when you contact us, you understand that you're not just doing business, you're becoming a member of our aviation family, too!
Bud Ridgley, President Emeritus
I might know everybody in aviation. Lord knows I’ve been in it long enough! My first flight was when I was 10 years old and that, put mildly, was a while back.
That first flight introduced me to what was to be my life’s work. As a teen, I “earned” flight time by working at Beaver Aviation in Des Moines. I soloed on my 16th birthday.
In 1955 I moved to Houston with my wife Fran. While there, I bought my first plane, a Luscombe 8E. I’ve never looked back.
I took the Aircraft Sales Manager position at Hunt Pan Am in Brownsville and moved to Texas in 1972. Several years later, my wife, Fran, and I established Ridgley Aviation at Bay City (TX) Municipal. Fran even invented one of, if not the first “self serve” gas pumps while we were there. It was marvelous. I stayed busy with the FBO and a flight club that sold shares rather than the traditional fractional ownership of one airplane. This allowed me to continually rotate the airplanes in use and made everyone in the flying club happy enough that it stayed full during it’s entire existence!
Around the end of 1978, an opportunity to establish an FBO at Cherokee County Airport presented itself and we quickly made the move. We expanded to Tyler, TX, selling Texaco branded fuel, arranging charters, running a flight school, renting hangar space and operating a maintenance facility.
Almost 20 years later, we slowed down. My son, Brian, came into the business as my apprentice and I devoted full time to teaching him everything I had learned. Brian bought the business and Fran and I retired in 1997, leaving our “baby” in very capable hands. With pride, we watched Brian grow the firm, expanding his markets and blazing new trails. He does all things first class and has added acclaim to the Ridgley name.
It was no surprise to anyone but me, probably, but last year, I grew bored of my “lifestyle decision” and determined that I wanted back in. The current economy made it challenging and I felt that my experience and contacts would benefit my son’s company. So, without hesitation, (and after consulting my wife of 57 years) I came back to Ridgley Aviation (now known as RidgeAire Worldwide) and am having fun again! It seems I get reacquainted with old aviation friends every day.
Make no mistake, the world of aviation and aircraft sales has changed a lot in my time away. Things move much more quickly now, thanks to cell phones and the computer. I’ve even had to learn a whole new language thanks to innovations such as the G1000 and advances in GPS technology. I’ve embraced these changes (call me on my iPhone or send me an email) and marvel at their contributions to the industry.
This fascinating, amazing, ever changing world of aviation is my life long passion, no doubt about it. If you’re wondering what that means to you as a potential client of RidgeAire Worldwide, call us. I’ll explain it to you and maybe tell you a story or two if you have the time.
Colt Weaver, Sales Associate
I've logged over 4300 hours in 62 types of aircraft. I've managed FBO's and hold Commercial, Instrument, and Multi–engine ratings and was a US Army Blackhawk Crew Chief. I know and understand practically every facet of the world of aviation and that's very good for you!
The success enjoyed by RidgeAire, is easy to understand...our company goal is for RidgeAire clients to regard their experience with us as seamless and comfortable. We work hard to anticipate every question and provide clear, useful information. We know that time is money and we respect yours, providing comprehensive services such as value comparisons, market conditions, cost of ownership or acquisition scenarios, including trades.
I believe that the main reason we can accomplish our goals; the main difference between us and other aviation sales companies, is that RidgeAire OWNS aircraft too. We understand that our clients face significant daily expenses and empathize with someone who wonders what to do as a plane sits in the hangar. We literally walk in your shoes!
I'm here, ready to help you make informed decisions. Call me to discuss a sale or acquisition or just to ask a question. I promise to use my experience, as well as every resource available to best serve your interests!
Chip McClure, Sales Associate
Chip McClure has been a great addition to the RidgeAire Team, we are proud to have him. Chip grew up in Midland; a booming West Texas town where the oil business produced Millionaires faster than Gates could produce Learjet’s!
Telling stories about those days, Chip quip’s that he thought every small town had a Roll’s Royce Dealership with a promotion, “Buy a new Roll’s Royce and get a free Learjet!” It really is hard to believe, but it is true! Chip was mesmerized as the crop dusters sprayed the fields near his parent’s farm; it seems that these childhood memories were just the beginning of a life-long love affair with aircraft!
When he was a young parent, his daughter, “Jessica”, fell down an abandoned water well. The story claimed international news, and a local oilman, Clayton Williams made an invaluable contribution. Mr. Williams sent his Learjet 24D to pick up Dave Lilly, a Mine Safety expert from New Mexico. Mr. Lilly made the critical corrections to a drilling operation that saved “Baby Jessica’s” life! This truly gave Chip’s love of aircraft a much deeper significance than he ever imagined!!
In 1999, Chip sold his first airplane, a Turbo Commander, he was hooked! A lifetime infatuation with aircraft solidified his new career as a professional salesperson. It could not be a better fit. Chip’s love of Commanders and Learjet’s dominated his early sales, but during these last several years, the aircraft market has narrowed somewhat, his knowledge includes King Airs and Citations, as well as others. Chip will still try to sell you a Twin Commander, and when the rare occurrence of a “20” series Learjet leaving happens; you may see a tear in his eye! Chip’s days include constant research of the King Air series and Cessna Citation markets. Calls today are more likely for a Citation V than a Lear 35, but Chip’s forte is finding the customer the perfect airplane, no matter the make or model. The big smile gives it away…“a sale”!
On a personal note Chip is married to his pride, lovely Amy! Together they have a “Brady Bunch”, a total of six kids! Amy’s youngest is five, and Chip’s oldest is twenty-five! In fact, Chip’s son and a grandson are the same age! Chip and Amy live in Tyler, Texas.
Hobbies include dirt bikes and kayaking, but you will often find him in the back of a King Air with a customer. Chip spends most of his time out of the cockpit. He visits with the client while a professional pilot is doing the flying!
Our on-site Aircraft Detail and Maintenance Crew provides RidgeAire, Inc. and our customers with quality, skillful service. They're dedicated to getting an aircraft in top shape and perfecting the details, no matter how big or small!