Pilot Journal
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Cavanaugh’s Flight Through Time

What started as a private hobby has grown into a serious collection

Cavanaugh’s Flight Through TimeJim Cavanaugh has a habit of starting small and building big. An integral part of his formula is his desire to share his passions with others so that, in the end, everyone wins." />

Jim’s technique of partnering with franchised business owners worked beyond his expectations. Jani-King is the world’s leading commercial cleaning service. Worldwide, the company has more than 11,000 franchises in a $78 billion industry. Furthermore, Jim has pioneered specialty-cleaning services by adapting to exacting standards, industry by industry (for example, automotive dealerships, manufacturing, biotechnology and healthcare).

Cavanaugh’s Flight Through TimeIn each case, the corporate office develops the process, contracts the business and then allows the franchisee to service the contract. Jim’s business model solves problems for his “partners” and improves their share rather than market share. It’s a “share the wealth” concept for everyone involved in the Jani-King enterprise.

This win-win attitude has given Jim a measure of success that has allowed him to finally pursue his love of flying. Though he began as most pilots do (with Cessnas and Pipers), Jim eventually embarked in a totally different direction. He uses a corporate jet for business travel, but he has always had an eye for warbirds. Recently, he branched out and began flying helicopters, particularly the Korean War-era “Mash” Bell 47.

When Jim started flying, he began enlisting others into his passion without really making an effort. Take, for example, Kevin Raulie. Unenthusiastic about his sales job in Dallas, Kevin decided to jump tracks and get into aviation. He worked as a serviceman at an Addison Airport FBO in Addison, Texas, where he took notice of two pilots who regularly flew a T-6. “I would refuel the plane when they were done flying and talk with them about how things were going,” he recalls. “I’d always loved warbirds. I grew up in Mercedes, Texas, where the Commemorative Air Force started—I loved to watch those airplanes flying. I sort of adopted Jim and his partner in the T-6. I started cleaning the airplane, putting it away. I guess I became an unofficial crew chief.”

After mastering the T-6, Jim purchased a P-51 Mustang, and of course, he needed a place to keep it. He placed the Mustang in a hangar (that’s still used by the museum) along with a J-3 Cub, a PT-19 and a Piper Arrow. Kevin continues, “When Jim bought the Mustang, he offered me a job taking care of the hangar and the airplane. I was excited in the short term, but was worried about the long term. I asked myself, ‘What if Jim changes his mind about flying?’ I spoke with him about the job and he told me that I’d always have something to do—he hasn’t let me down yet.”

Cavanaugh’s collection of airplanes grew with the addition of a T-6 and an F-86. What started out as a private hobby soon grew into a serious collection (almost an addiction). In the meantime, Kevin kept himself busy caring for the growing collection and dealing with the nonstop stream of visitors who wanted a peek at the airplanes. “Jim noticed all the visitors and decided to open a museum to share the collection with the public,” he says. “He’s a very dedicated patriot. He wanted to honor the veterans and share the airplanes and their heritage with the public.”


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