Unsung Hero: Aircraft Tug Business Plays Big Part in Presidential Inauguration

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Small but growing company selected as primary aircraft mover for President's inauguration ceremony.

For the thousands of visitors who attended President Bush’s inauguration in January, the last things on their minds were the massive tugs that move planes around the airport. But, for JETporter, Inc. President Steve Hill, the excitement was knowing his company had helped prevent big delays with the event.

“When I got an emergency call in December from Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation, one of my customers at Dulles Airport, saying they needed another aircraft tug to manage the flights coming in for the inauguration, I knew we had to get it there in time,” Hill said.

Building the tugs and shipping them cross country usually takes months, Hill said, but they were able to send it out just in time to arrive in Washington, D.C. before most of the heavy traffic began coming through.

Hill also mentioned that, despite the time constraint, they were able to customize the nearly 4,000 pound tug for the special event. “We painted it like an American flag to give it a patriotic touch,” he said.

While JETporter is one of several aircraft tug companies in the nation, they are one of only two that produce electric nose wheel lifting tugs, making them a leader in combating the growing air quality problem at airports across America. Electric tugs also help airports save money on maintenance costs, Hill said.

With JETporter’s ability to move aircraft without using tow bars, the job of repositioning aircraft has become safer and more productive. “Conventional tugs have heavy tow bars that connect to an aircraft, which can be difficult to maintain, can cause damage to the aircraft, take extra time to install and can cause injury to ground service personnel,” Hill said. “Using our tugs to transport aircraft around the airport is quicker, easier and safer for the airport staff, since there is less effort involved. Our tugs also save the airport money since they don’t have to maintain an inventory of tow bars that need to be fitted to each aircraft.”

Hill bought JETporter, Inc. in 1998 when it was struggling in the industry. Since then, the business has grown from a small start-up company to a recognized leader in the aircraft towing industry. JETporter produces tugs that can handle aircraft from single engine pistons all the way up to 100,000 lb. corporate jets and regional airliners.

JETporter electric aircraft tugs were designed following extensive research of the tug industry, incorporating the best features found on competitive units as well as innovative aspects. JETporter President Steve Hill has been working in the aerospace industry for more than 25 years. For more information on JETporter’s services, visit http://www.jetporter.com.

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