At Welsch Aviation® we believe you should trust your broker as much as you trust your pilot. Since 1949 we have been pioneers in customized private aircraft acquisition and sales. Founded on integrity and expert knowledge, we know that although aircraft markets change, the value of an upright character and reputation is timeless. Unlike other brokerage firms, we do not own, operate or inventory airplanes. Instead of competing with our clients, we focus all our energy on doing what’s best for them. You can trust us to put your business first. For over half a century the satisfaction of our clients has spoken for itself. 95% of our business comes to us from word of mouth referrals and repeat clientele.
Although we have a legacy of exceptional results and happy customers, we know we are only as good as our last transaction. That’s why every time you interact with our expert brokers they take the time to help you navigate the multifaceted realm of the executive aircraft market. Every transaction you entrust to us is tailored to your individual needs.We have nine full-time brokers and four regional offices located in New York, Washington, D.C., Georgia, and Texas and we look forward to showing you why Welsch Aviation® is the world’s longest operating aircraft brokerage firm.
In 1927, twenty-two-year-old James C. Welsch stood among the crowd of proud Americans at Lunken Airfield in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Charles Lindbergh demonstrated the Spirit of St. Louis during a victory tour following his historic flight across the Atlantic. Convinced he had seen the future of private transportation, James Welsch soon learned to fly in an open-cockpit biplane and would one day make aviation history of his own, as the founder of the world’s first aircraft brokerage firm still operating today, Welsch Aviation®.
When The Aeronautical Corporation of America (later known as Aeronca) formed in Hangar 4 at that same airfield in 1928, James Welsch knew that the future had arrived. It was the Golden Age of Aviation and by 1932, Welsch was the Director of Sales for Aeronca and played a key role in developing a new market: private aircraft ownership. With an acquisition cost of less than $1,500 and a fixed operating cost of one cent per mile, the single seat Aeronca C-2 represented the first affordable and safe airplane for noncommercial use. Due in significant part to the efforts of James Welsch, the C-2 and two-seat C-3 models were produced in large numbers in the United States and are credited with forever changing the landscape of private aviation. When C-3 production ended in 1937, Aeronca had sold more than five hundred of the variant during the Great Depression under the department leadership of James Welsch, who had now earned a reputation as an aircraft market maker.
In a move to increase market share, Consolidated-Vultee recruited James Welsch in late 1937 to lead the sales efforts for the Stinson Aircraft line. By the end of World War II, Welsch’s leadership in the industry had caught the attention of Cessna Aircraft Company and their Chairman, Duane Wallace. Eager to have Welsch on their team, Wallace made Welsch an offer he couldn’t refuse: his own exclusive distributorship for all of the Northeastern United States. James Welsch set up shop for Cessna as the only commercial operation on Roosevelt Field in New York.
In 1949 the Cessna factory claimed control of their distributorships nationwide and later that year, James Welsch opened what would become the world’s most enduring aircraft brokerage firm, Welsch Aviation®. Headquartered in the Marine Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport, in the former office of Pan American Airways legendary president and founder, Juan Tripp, Welsch Aviation® was off to a notable beginning.
Catering to national and international corporate clients, Welsch sold pre-owned commercial and military equipment converted for business travel. Lockheed Lodestars, DC-3s and Convair 240s and 340s were customized with elegant executive interiors by various modification shops capitalizing on an evolving niche market. Welsch immediately made a name for himself selling aircraft for as much as $300,000 in the early 1950’s to America’s leading corporations, many of which were just discovering the benefits of institutionalized executive air travel. Industrial giants like U.S. Steel purchased their first aircraft, a modified Lockheed Lodestar, from Welsch Aviation®.
By the late 1950’s, demand for business aircraft was growing at a record pace and Welsch Aviation teamed with Frederick B. Ayer and Associates to provide a world class product to the top end of the market. Together they supplied pressurized Convair 240s and 340s previously owned by American Airlines and customized with luxurious interiors by AirResearch. James Welsch and a professional flight crew traveled around the world demonstrating the modified Convair 240 to potential buyers, introducing them to the comfort, convenience and prestige of private “cabin class” air transportation. Prices now surpassed half a million dollars and Welsch Aviation® became synonymous with the elite end of the business aviation market, supplying the world’s most luxurious private aircraft to the most discriminating buyers.
In 1959, Welsch Aviation® sold a modified Convair 240 to Joseph Kennedy for use in the 1960 presidential campaign of his son, Senator John F. Kennedy. The “Caroline”, named after JFK’s daughter, was the first private aircraft ever used by a presidential candidate and thus revolutionized modern American politics. Historians largely credit this aircraft with providing Kennedy the necessary advantage for his narrow victory in the race for the White House. Every American presidential candidate since has utilized private aircraft as their primary transportation. “Caroline” served the Kennedy family until 1967 and is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation was founded in 1958 around the development of the first cabin-class production aircraft designed exclusively for executive transport: Gulfstream I. With a price tag of $1 million, the risks were enormous. Realizing that Welsch Aviation® had more experience selling to the high end of the executive aircraft market than any other company in the world, the leadership of Gulfstream went to James Welsch for advice. Could the private aviation market support a seven-figure price tag and how significant was the demand? To James Welsch, the answers were clear and, once again, aviation history was made.
The Gulfstream I proved to be a success and was shortly followed by the first business jet to enter service, the Lockheed Jetstar, in the early 1960’s. As the turbine generation of business aircraft took to the skies, the second generation of Welsch Aviation® joined the family business. James C. Welsch, Jr., who is President of the company today, would lead Welsch Aviation® into the jet age and beyond.
Building on the legacy of James Welsch, Sr., Welsch Aviation® continues to focus on the high end of the executive aircraft market, specializing in sales and acquisitions of mid to large cabin class jets. That focus has led to a client list dominated by Fortune 500 companies. The titans of global industry, from Archer Daniels Midland to General Motors to Unisys, have come to rely on Welsch Aviation® as their trusted aircraft brokers time and again. The same companies that James Welsch, Sr. sold DC-3s to in 1949 are today buying and selling $20 million jets through Welsch Aviation®. In many cases, the histories of America’s largest corporate flight departments are a virtual family tree of the Welsch Aviation® lineage.
Today, Welsch Aviation® is a powerhouse of jet brokerage, boasting a track record that is the envy of its’ peers. In an industry where numbers count, none are more impressive than Welsch Aviation®’s. With more than 1,000 aircraft transactions to date, valued at more than $5 billion, Welsch Aviation® has sold more than 400 jets since 1985 alone and has never experienced a losing financial year in more than half a century. Eight full-time brokers staff five regional offices from coast-to-coast and bring to each transaction more than 200 years of combined aviation expertise. From cosmetic refurbishment to airframe and powerplant maintenance to corporate flight training to supersonic military piloting, the Welsch Aviation® team of professionals bring together a comprehensive array of industry experience and credentials that are unrivaled the world over.
For more than half a century, Welsch Aviation® has been a hallmark of success in the field of aircraft brokerage and continues to lead the way. Jim Welsch sums up the philosophy that has kept the firm on top: “The key to our success is that each transaction is conducted with the utmost integrity and full disclosure because you should be able to trust your broker as much as your pilot. We believe that we are only as good as our last transaction and each client holds the key to our future by forwarding our reputation. We treat every client with the same meticulous attention and respect; whether they are a long-standing customer like ExxonMobil or a private individual buying or selling their first jet aircraft. As a result, it’s no surprise that we have come to rely on word-of-mouth referrals and are fortunate to enjoy the benefits of multi-generational repeat business.”
True to their roots as the world’s oldest continuously operating aircraft brokerage firm, Welsch Aviation® has been deliberate to avoid what Jim Welsch refers to as the “dealer trap”. Unlike many aircraft brokerages, Welsch Aviation® does not own, operate or inventory aircraft, which would compete against aircraft they represent on an exclusive basis. Jim Welsch explains: “It all comes back to serving our clients’ objectives without compromise. You can’t wear both hats successfully because at the end of the day, when you’ve got just one buyer for a particular aircraft type, you’re going to sell your jet before you sell your client’s. The only way to avoid that conflict of interest and operate without bias is to make sure that you don’t own your own inventory. That’s just good business sense and I think sellers–and buyers–appreciate that.”
Welsch Aviation® has produced consistently exceptional results for their clients by providing unparalleled dedication, experience and integrity. Their historic position in the aviation community as pioneers of aircraft brokerage is a matter of professional pride and their legacy will undoubtedly continue for generations to come. As for the future, it is not difficult to imagine that one day the first brokered supersonic executive jet will be represented by Welsch Aviation®.
When asked the secret to how Welsch Aviation® has managed to maintain its’ reputation as the leading edge of corporate aircraft brokerage for more than half a century, Jim Welsch replied simply, “It’s great to have a venerable place in history, but the only way to secure the future is by working hard in the present. As for our reputation, we earn it every day.”
“Since 1979, I have worked for six different corporations. One constant in all of those years is my relationship with Welsch Aviation. Welsch Aviation is an institution in this industry. Even with the most difficult sales, Welsch Aviation made the process go smoothly. When buying aircraft, they always got us the most bang for the buck. Welsch Aviation is a stand-up company, honest and is highly respected.”
– Tom Paradise
Director of Aviation
“We have been using Welsch Aviation for all of our aircraft sales and acquisition needs since 1990. They are the very best in the aircraft brokerage business.”
– Larry Adams, V.P. Viacom, Inc.