Pace Airlines

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Pace Airlines
Pace Airlines logo.png
Founded 1996
Ceased operations September 2009
Hubs Smith Reynolds Airport
Focus cities Atlantic City International Airport
Dallas Love Field
Fleet size 8
Destinations 14
Parent company Pace Airlines, LLC
Pace Airlines II, LLC
Headquarters Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Pace Airlines was an American charter airline based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. It operated executive passenger and sports flight charters. Its main base was Smith Reynolds Airport, Winston-Salem.[1]


The airline was established in January 1996 and named Pace Airlines after Piedmont Aviation Services, Inc was granted Federal Aviation Administration and United States Department of Transportation approval on March 26, 1996.

The first General Manager of Pace was Jerry Angel, formerly of Piedmont Airlines (1948–1989) and later Leisure Air. The first aircraft on its Air Carrier Certificate was N487GS, [1] a Boeing 737-200 previously of Western Airlines and Viscount, owned by the NBA Charlotte Hornets. The initial business model for the company was as an executive charter service for sports teams, entertainers, and corporations in an all first-class configuration (44 seats). Quickly 3 more aircraft were added to the certificate, N9075U [2], N159PL [3], and N37NY [4].

Piedmont Aviation Services merged with Hawthorne Aviation in July 1998 and became Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation. PHA was owned by the Carlyle Group located in Washington, DC. In January 2000 Mr. Darrell Richardson was recruited as the new President of Pace Airlines. Mr. Richardson had been Chief Operating Officer of Mesaba Airlines since 1995. Immediately, Mr. Richardson began to grow the airline. This saw the first major contract for the company, with Vacation Express out of Atlanta, GA. The agreement called for Pace to operate six Boeing 737-300s on a 'scheduled charter' operation for leisure and vacation travelers. Flights operated out of Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Washington Dulles (IAD), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG), Indianapolis (IND), Louisville (SDF), Charlotte/Douglas (CLT) and Atlanta/Hartsfield (ATL) to a hub in Orlando/Sanford (SFB), where they continued on to Saint Marteen (SXM), Punta Cana (PUJ), Cancun (CUN), Liberia Costa Rica (LIR), and Montego Bay (MBJ). These flights operated every day except Tuesday and Wednesday. The first flights for Vacation Express by Pace were launched on Thanksgiving Day, 2001. Pace Airlines, Inc. was sold to Pace Airlines, LLC & Pace Airlines II, LLC in December 2002, which became the parent company of Pace Airlines, Inc.

Additional aircraft were added over time, mainly Boeing 737-200s and a handful of 757-200s. At one time Pace operated 21 aircraft. Contracts came for such city pairs as JFK-POS (752) and MBS-LBX (732). In late December 2002, the owner of Hooters, Robert H. Brooks, agreed to become the owner of Pace Airlines. Hooters Air was born.

Hooters Air[edit]

Robert H. Brooks began looking for an airline to buy in 2002. He first approached bankrupt Vanguard Airlines of Kansas City, MO. They rebuffed his offer to buy their assets, so he turned his eye toward Winston-Salem and Pace Airlines. He purchased the company in late December 2002, and began laying the groundwork to bring a new airline to Myrtle Beach, SC. With a former executive of Vanguard, he formed Hooters Air, using the Hooters identity as the draw to attract passengers. Hooters Air offices were headquartered in Myrtle Beach, while the operations/maintenance/flight personnel directly controlled by Pace Airlines remained largely based in Winston-Salem in the former Piedmont/USAirways Tom Davis Training Center.

Hooters Air began service in April 2003 with daily flights between ATL-MYR and BWI-MYR utilizing B737-200s. Gradually EWR, LCK, GYY, PIT, RSW, and NAS (Nassau) were added. Service to Gary, IN (GYY) operated as direct service from MYR with a stopover in Columbus, OH (LCK). Gary was marketed as service to Chicago, as the drive time to downtown Chicago was quicker than from ORD. [5] The aircraft utilized for Hooters were N250TR (B732), N252TR (B732), N371PA (B733), N370WL (B733), N380WL (B733), and N750WL (B752).

In 2003, Vacation Express was acquired by a parent company that at the same time acquired SunTrips, a vacation package operator out of the Bay Area. [6] The fall of 2004 at Pace Airlines was spent preparing the airline for 180 minute ETOPS with the 757-200. Plans were to possibly run vacation charters to Hawaii from the West Coast for the new partner, Suntrips. Proving flights were operated between OAK-HNL. Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration for 180min ETOPS was granted in late 2004, but this expensive exemption was never utilized, as there were never flights operated between the West Coast and Hawaii for the rest of Pace's existence.

In February 2005, a decision was made to inaugurate Hooters Air service from Rockford, IL (RFD) to Denver (DEN) and Las Vegas (LAS). The flights from RFD were guaranteed to operate at a profit from the local Airport Authority by way of route subsidies. [7] Non-stop service between Myrtle-Las Vegas utilizing the 737-300 was studied several times, but never started. For a period of time in 2005, there were also RFD-ATL nonstop flights. The summer of 2005 saw a huge spike in oil prices, a direct result of speculation in the run-up and aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This upward surge in jet fuel prices, combined with competition from United Airlines (also given subsidies) resulted in the termination of service to Rockford in December 2005. [8]

In August 2005, Hooters Air also began non-stop service between Allentown (ABE) and St Petersburg/Clearwater, FL (PIE), and also Ft. Lauderdale (FLL). These flights only lasted a few months as the carrier ran into difficult times. [9] Mr. Brooks was later sued by two College Students who had originally brought the idea of a "Hooters" Airline to him.

Once a promising concept, Hooters Air succumbed to the fate of most start up airlines since deregulation and ceased operations in the spring of 2006. The certificate holder Pace Airlines fell back to their core business of providing sports and vacation charter flights. Mr. Darryl Richardson, the first President, resigned to leave for another business venture which failed. Hooters Air/Pace was managed by South Carolina Attorney Reese Boyd, President Charlie Creech, Maintenance Director Russ Kota, CFO Katherin Rogers CPA, Manager of Stores David Coe, Director of Security Harlan Colbert and Manager of Ground Support Eric Winberg. During this time Pace Airlines operated as a "DBA" "Hooters Air." During this time period Pace/Hooters had numerous legal complaints filed in both State's and Federal Courts. Numerous vendors were not paid, including the Smith Reynolds Airport Authority. This Management Team, with it's many law suits and unpaid debts, ran up a debt of over 20 million United States Dollars. Boyd,Creech,Kota, Colbert and Winberg, offered and promised to purchase Pace from the Brooks estate but could never raise any of the needed funds.

In 2009, Eric Winberg contacted Former President Darrell Richardson in order to find a buyer for Pace I and Pace II,(Hooters and Pace). Richardson introduced Winberg to Mr. William Rogers Sr, from Missouri. Mr. Rogers claimed to be worth several hundred million dollars and had his Missouri attorney write a letter confirming this untrue fact. Mr. Rogers purchased the holding Companies ( Pace I and Pace II ) for "one dollar and a cup of coffee," and a promissory note for the over 20 million dollar past due debt. Mr. Rogers, Eric Winberg and Darrell Richardson and Mr. Harlan Colbert were the initial new management. (Creech,Kota,Boyd, CFO Rogers were unceremoniously fired). Shortly thereafter Mr. Stuart Carney was Brought in and named COO. Richardson was named President, Colbert Director of Security, Winberg Ex VP of Maintenance and Rogers Sr Chairman and CFO. The transaction was handled by Block and Block Law Firm from Atlanta and the submittal to the US DOT resulted in the Transfer of the FAA Operating Certificates, Part 121 and Part 145.

Immediately following the Firing of Past Management and Transfer of FAA Certificates, Rogers ordered an in house audit, which reveled, massive credit card spending for personal items by some of the past management. It was also discovered that Boyd had represented both Pace I and Pace II and a customer Direct Air in the same contract. It was discovered that Colbert was reprimanded and issued an Order to stop by the TSA for running fraudulent background checks and fingerprinting under the Guise of a SITA security program, which in fact did not exist, Colbert and Pace were sued for this action. It was discovered that the Employees Medical Insurance was two months behind on payments. It was discovered that the Aircraft Leases were in arrears to Both Triton Leasing and GECAS. It was discovered that the Smith Reynolds Airport Authority was owed over 1 million Dollars in unpaid Lease payments. It was discovered that Piedmont Aviation Parts was owed over 2 million dollars for unpaid parts.

Shortly after Rogers Sr and Richardson became in control, it was discovered that Rogers was in fact a Fraud and nearly Penniless. During this time Employees became behind in wage payments and Rogers cancelled the Health Insurance program. Rogers was accused of not paying premiums but this was proven to be false. Rogers then Ordered Mr. Carney to lay off the entire work Force which in fact was accomplished. Mr. Richardson never missed a single Paycheck, Mr. Carney missed several paychecks. Mr. Rogers wired several Hundred Thousand Dollars to his wife's bank account. Colbert was fired and stripped of all access to the Airline.

In less than 120 Days, the three Major Past Creditors of Pace I/Pace II and Hooters Air, the Smith Reynolds Airport, Triton Leasing and Piedmont filed a motion for an Involuntary Bankruptcy, which was granted. Mr. Edward Allman was assigned as Trustee. Richardson filed a personal Bankruptcy and fled to the Turks and Caicos Caribbean Islands. Rogers Sr. was charged with a North Carolina Class H Felony for, "Willful failure to notify in writing before cancellation of an employee health insurance plan." Prior to fleeing to the Caribbean, Richardson surrendered both the FAA Part 121 and the Part 145 Operating Certificates.


Pace Airlines, Inc. specialized in transporting professional and collegiate sports teams, VIP charters, corporate shuttles and aircraft management. Pace also operated a FAR 145 maintenance facility and performed heavy maintenance for airlines and leasing companies.


Pace Airlines flew the following aircraft:


  1. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-10. p. 60. 

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