loader image

DENISE WILSON

Life Experiences

A little about me;

My first career was as a professional oboist and music teacher.

My second career was as a professional pilot where I flew for various airlines, corporate flight departments and charter operations, and taught numerous pilots how to fly.

My third career was as serial entrepreneur. I founded Desert Jet in 2007 and led the company as CEO through high growth periods. In fact, I started three Desert Jet entities; a jet aircraft management and charter company, a jet maintenance company, and lastly an aircraft ground handling company. While CEO of Desert Jet, I accomplished the following;

  • Founded three Desert Jet companies and grew revenues to $20 million annually with no debt or investors with a team of 50 employees – these companies were purely bootstrapped over a 12 year period.
  • Led Desert Jet to rank on the Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest growing, privately owned companies five years straight, with the highest ranking at #69 in 2012, and one of the 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies Worldwide in 2014
  • Led Desert Jet to be named one of the Best Entrepreneurial Companies in the US by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2015

Now, I have embarked on my fourth exciting career. As Sales Director for jetAVIVA in the Citation markets, I’m utilizing my 22 years of piloting experience and business acumen to help my clients realize their dream of jet ownership.

As Chair of Desert Jet’s Board of Directors, I am helping the company that I founded reach the next level in its lifespan.

Personal Achievement Highlights

I feel lucky every day that I have enjoyed so many diverse pursuits over the last 30 years of my career. Here are some of the achievements I’m most proud of;

  • I’m the first woman pilot in the aviation industry to start and build a charter/management company, maintenance repair station and FBO (private jet terminal, jet fuel sales and ground handling company) from the ground up.
  • I was named one of “Ten Top Women CEOs on the Inc. 500 List” by Inc. Magazine in 2012
  • I was a winner in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program in 2013
  • I was one of six participants globally in EY’s Ready, Set, Grow Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program in 2014
  • I was a recipient of WBENC’s Dorothy B. Brothers Leadership Award in 2012
  • I was the author of aircraft charter industry resource, “The Definitive Guide to Supplement Lift” and am now writing my second book.
  • I was the keynote speaker at events including American Express CEO Bootcamp, National Business Aviation Association Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference, Women in Aviation International Conference and presenter on the topic of vetting business jet providers at the National Business Aviation Association’s Annual Conference.
  • I have been featured, published, and quoted in publications such as Inc. Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Business Jet Traveler, Forbes, Fox Business, CNBC, Palm Springs Life, MSNBC, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, and Aviation for Women Magazine.
  • I was one of the first women in aviation to earn Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) certification and represent the group as a Director on NBAA’s CAM Governing Board.
  • My board experience includes the Enterprising Women Advisory Board and the National Business Aviation Association’s Certified Aviation Manager Governing Board. Currently I am on the Board of Directors for Angel Flight West and well as Desert Jet’s Board.
  • I have over 9000 hours of flight experience with 8 type ratings and am a former airline/corporate/charter pilot. Upgraded to airline captain in September of 2001.

Interested in more of my background? Click here for my resume.

Contact Me

Contact Me

Private Aviation