JANESVILLE, Ill. (WTVO) — An airplane that’s had some pretty famous passengers, from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, has a permanent home at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville.
The “Hawker 700” is now a monument to the beginning of SC Aviation’s charter business, which began in 2000.
The company is located at 4120 S Discovery Drive.
“This is the backbone of our company that started what we are today, with the 17 aircraft that we have,” said Jim Dillavou, SC Aviation’s Director of Maintenance.
SC Aviation retired the plane last year, in April. Instead of scrapping the jet, the company had a better idea – one that they’d tossed around for about ten years: mounting the aircraft outside of the company’s headquarters.
“It was a decision that was made to bring the best of the best in the local area to make the project happen and happen right, and be safe,” Dillavou said. “We’ve got a great project, probably one of the best looking aircraft on display, I would say, in the country.”
That project included utilizing Rockford’s 425 Manufacturing, with whom SC Aviation already had a working relationship.
“They’ve made us a lot of tooling. Anything that I can draw on paper, they can make,” Divallou said. “It’s been a great partnership. We needed to have their expertise to build the actual mounting portion of the aircraft.”
Mike Thomason, President of 425 Manufacturing, said, “They know that we do a lot of [fabrication] and a lot of manufacturing, so the question was posed: can you put a jet on sticks? And I said, yeah!”
425 Manufacturing’s Fabrication Manager Tyler Thomason added, “I went through all of the engineering, overseeing all of that, the fabrication of the mounts inside the plane, the fabrication of the poles, paint, just about everything top to bottom, other than the machining aspect of it.”
Mike Thomason said, “The only thing is, when they’re lowering it in with a crane is, whether everything’s got to be perfect. And that was kind of the suspense in the four months building all this and crossing our fingers that we didn’t miss an angle, or we didn’t miss a height, or something like that. But, in the end, it came to, probably, within a quarter inch or half inch, all the way around.”
Now, that effort is on display as the plane is permanently “in the pattern” at Rock County’s airport, where anyone driving along Highway 51 can see.
“It represents the hard work of SC Aviation and their employees,” Divallou said. “I’m not sure how I’m gonna top this one, but we’ll see.”
SC Aviation and 425 Manufacturing weren’t the only companies involved in the project. Paulson Kimball Construction poured the concrete and Delta Electric wired the Hawker so it lights up at night.