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Fourth-generation aviator - 5 minutes with Anna Cutter Anna Cutter is a sales and charter coordinator for Cutter Aviation, a fourth-generation pilot supporting her family’s business, along with her brother Will. In this interview, lightly edited for clarity, conducted during AirVenture 2023, she talks about learning to fly in a Piper Archer and about Cutter Aviation.

So, tell me how you got into flying.

Yeah, so I got into flying with my great-granddaddy, so Cutter Aviation has been around since 1928. We’re the longest family-owned FBO business in the world. So I actually started my passion for flying with my granddaddy, Bill Cutter. He had a stagger-wing based in Phoenix, Arizona, and we would fly it to Sedona every Sunday for breakfast, kind of just seeing all the scenery and stuff. It was always so funny because when we would take off from Sky Harbor everyone at the air traffic control would be like, “Bill, can you take a left turn?” because it was bright orange. They loved to see the plane turn.

So, yeah, that's kind of how I started flying. I always liked being with my granddaddy and spending a bunch of time with him and kind of just following his footsteps with that. My dad also flies a bunch of different planes, too, so it's always fun to sit in the cockpit with him and learn from him as well.

My granddaddy, I've been going Oshkosh since I was in sixth grade and he would always be at the Piper booth sitting on one of the chairs, talking to people. So ever,since I started coming here, I would just hang out at the Piper booth all the time.

Once I started my training, we are dealers for Piper, so we'd get Archers. Back in the day, when they were sold out for years on end, we would have a couple in stock that I was able to fly until it sold. So, I kind of would get attached to those planes and then, you know, they sell them right under me.

It was fun learning that way and I would just get an instructor and whenever he was available and I was, I could go up and fly and build time that way. I got my private pilot’s (license) in the Archer LX, and then I'm getting my instrument right now.

So, I'm training in the Archer as well. I'm really passionate about the Archer.

Move on to M-Class from there.

Yeah, exactly. That's the step-up program to the M350 and above.

Back on Cutter. You note the family-owned aspect, and the trend for the past couple of years for FBOs has been to gobble each other up. Do you guys see that as kind of a competitive difference? How many locations do you guys have?

We have nine facilities and six FBOs. At the other facilities we just do maintenance, and we have three charter facilities. We have one in Phoenixand then we have charter in Georgetown, Texas and then Addison, Texas. Those are the main hubs for charter, and I am on the charter side of things as well.

So how do you guys see that in terms of a competitive difference that you guys are still kind of, even though you have a pretty big footprint of being family-owned, still having a family name on there versus, you see more and more investment groups out of New York all of a sudden, create an INC and then go out and gobble up a bunch of locations?

Right. It's really cool because you know this year's our 95th year in business. I'm the fourth generation for Cutter Aviation, so we've had this brand. The biggest thing between us and different FBOs is I would say our service and our treating customers like family. We've had the same customers forever and we treat them well, also newcomers that come in, and we give them that family aspect of things, make them feel at home, whatever they need, and support them that way.

But yeah, it's definitely interesting with other companies buying all these FBOs and stuff and we're just in the southwest. (We’re) definitely always looking to grow and buy more FBOs in that area.

In that sense, you guys have grown up right alongside Phoenix. You’re talking about a city that’s just blown up, especially even now - This heat probably doesn’t bother you too bad, does it?

[Laughs.] No, not too bad.

So what's it been like, seeing the market change there in the city and the dynamics in Arizona versus probably when you were involved flying with your granddad versus how things are now?

Right. So it’s definitely blown up. You can't buy a house in Phoenix anymore for a normal amount of money. Everything has skyrocketed, and that's good for us because people are wanting to move there. A lot of people are moving out from California and moving to Arizona and Texas.

So it's nice getting more people there and building it over there.

Okay, I'll go a little bit into the Cessna versus Archer thing here. What's it like learning to fly in the Archer versus the folks out there learning in 152s and 172s?

I personally believe that the Archer LX is the safest training plane on the market. It has all these different aspects. It has autopilot, It has two G1000 screens; it's very comfortable. The LX has leather seats, the wheel pants, so you're kind of traveling in style. It's kind of more of the, I would say, the business class of trainers.

Anything else you want to talk about?

I think just the biggest thing is being fourth generation, it's definitely an interesting curve of, you know, learning from my granddaddy and then also my dad. It's definitely fun, and I'm very fortunate, being in this position of stepping up with them and learning from them.

So it's in your DNA.

Yeah, exactly.

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