October 1, 2022

I have spent almost every single day over the past twelve weeks overseeing the preparation of and physically helping get our new Arkansas facility ready for our very first customer. More than once I have questioned myself and thought “Why in the world is a 70-year-old Texan performing this type of labor and defying all of his doctors’ preventative measures to help preserve his worn out old body and doing it the state of Arkansas?!” The answer is always the same: service to God, Country and Family and to make a positive difference.

After living in Arkansas a few weeks, it finally dawned on me that I do have a couple of connections with the state. Here’s how I see them.


I remember in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s there was a big buzz in the media about a “down to earth” man who was identified as one of, if not the wealthiest man in the United States, Sam Walton.

I bought a book in 1991 about “Mr. Sam” and I loved what I read. Over the years I have met a lot of famous and high-profile people. Some were good, some were really good and some were really, really bad. I always respected the ones who never forgot where they came from. They seemed to be on a mission to make a positive difference in their own unique way. My takeaway after reading the book about Mr. Sam was that he didn’t make anything but was an integrator of things that benefitted those he served. I have said since 1991 that I wanted to be the Sam Walton of aviation by bringing different component suppliers together and integrating their equipment and products into aircraft. My focus is on customer satisfaction and where I can bring value is by helping customers with their needs.

I love to think that I am walking the same streets in Northwest Arkansas that Mr. Sam once walked.  I have been to his museum in downtown Bentonville several times and I really think that we have a lot in common, but that’s purely my perception. His business addresses the needs of the masses and my focus is on a much smaller market. Hopefully I have the same passion he did.

Over the years I have painted aircraft that just might happen to have passed through Northwest Arkansas. Many years ago I even ended up holding an aircraft for a few minutes. I was waiting until my paint shop manager could confirm that the owner’s check was good before releasing the aircraft. A bank employee told my manager that there were not enough funds in the account for the check to clear. My manager told the waiting pilots that the check was not good and they thought it was a joke. They then called someone and within a couple of minutes the bank employee called to confirm that the check would clear.

Another connection comes from hunting. My son and his father-in-law bird hunt on leased land in South Texas that was described in the book I read as being hunted by Mr. Sam years ago. Who would have ever thought how people cross paths? I would like to think that my son, who is the President of my company, is also walking some of the same paths that were once enjoyed by the humble and forward-thinking Mr. Sam. I am blessed to share these thoughts and I forever wish that I could have shaken Mr. Sam’s hand.

1995 JB HUNT

Around 2005 a friend of mine at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas told me that trucking legend JB Hunt’s ranch foreman was trying to start some commercial hunting on JB’s ranch in Arkansas, so I went on a hunt there. I didn’t shoot a deer but I was fortunate enough to spend some time with JB and his wife Johnelle. Early in my career, after graduating from college, I was employed by the Southland Company’s trucking division, Hudgins Trucking, and then later I was a district manager for Ryder Trucks, so I had some knowledge of his industry. JB and I enjoyed each other’s company and he said that he wanted someone like me on his board, but nothing became of it. Keith Weaver, KACC’s Vice President, accompanied me on the hunt and recalls our encounter with the Hunts as very enjoyable. He thought JB was really interviewing me and wanted to hear what I thought. Keith’s perception was that the  trucking company was going through some changes and JB just wanted to know my views.

One thing that I really liked hearing from JB was his explanation about how he came up with the idea to put truck trailers on railroad cars. As I recall, he said that he was driving a truck and saw  empty flatbed railroad cars moving down a track. He thought getting his trailers on the railroad cars would help him and the railroad because the railroad was not getting paid for moving empty cars and would be paid for moving the trailers. He said that once the trailers got as far as the railroad could take them, he would deliver them to their final destinations. There is no doubt that JB was an entrepreneur! Like most entrepreneurs, finding solutions to needs or efficiencies that benefits others is a way of life!

At the time of our hunt, King Aerospace was a struggling little company. I was armed with a dream, a supportive wife, faith and a commitment to work relentlessly to feed my family. I guess JB sensed my position in life at the time. JB asked me how old I was and told me that I would make money in my 60’s. Looking back, I guess you’d say he was right. I also remember that JB and his wife said several times they wished that I could meet one of their ranch neighbors. After hearing this repeatedly, I asked them why they wanted me to meet the neighbor. They said that “She is just fun!” I never met the neighbor.

Today each time I see a JB Hunt truck on the road or on a railroad car, I fondly think about the moments we spent together and how much we enjoyed our discussions. JB and his supportive wife were a team that I will never forget!


In the late 1980’s an aviation contact that I knew pretty well was excited about the construction of some hangars in Northwest Arkansas. I am not sure how he was involved but he and his wife, who was an aircraft interior designer, were involved with the facilities long before they were built. He suggested that I get involved. Knowing how challenging, and at times mean spirited and ruthless about money some people are, I elected to decline to seek any involvement. Over the years I have kept abreast of the activities at the facility, but my focus was on growing and managing my own businesses. About ten years ago I was approached by a customer about support on a project and this caused me to visit the hangars for the very first time. I was amazed at the facilities and the potential for the right person willing to take a risk on them.

I decided not to submit a proposal for the work that would have required me to use the facilities because my heart told me that it didn’t feel right.  I guess my heart was correct because the company that did get the project eventually liquidated and had to reorganize. In about 2020 we were again approached about a project that would require the use of large hangars. The rest is history! We are now operating out of those very same hangars! In the crazy aviation world, like in like most businesses, “if you snooze, you lose.”


Each morning for the past three months I have driven on a country lane between my hotel in Bentonville and the Northwest Regional Airport. After several weeks of making the daily trip, I got familiar enough with the route that I could cautiously look beyond the winding road. One day I noticed two jeeps with “For Sale” signs on them at the bottom of a hill. One was an old United States Postal jeep from the 1970’s. I had been looking for something for the new Arkansas facility to use as a guide vehicle (a “Follow Me” sign will be placed on the back of a vehicle and when an aircraft lands, the vehicle will greet it so the pilot will know exactly where to go by following the “Follow Me” vehicle). I looked at John Deere Gators, cars and golf carts and they all are very expensive. I decided to stop and check out the old mail truck. I met the owner, Jim, who had lived on the same place for 45 years. He was in his 80’s and was wearing a Vietnam veterans cap. We visited and exchanged some stories and talked about cars. We negotiated a price of $2,000 for his old mail jeep that ran well. As I was about to leave and call it a day, Jim asked “Would you be a drinking man?” I told Jim that I drink two rum and diet cokes every night, which is much better than the back pain medicine that my doctors would like for me to take. He told me to follow him and we walked into an old chicken house that he said once held 40,000 chickens at one time! He opened a refrigerator that sat in the corner, pulled out a jug of clear liquid, popped off the cork, held out the bottle and said, “Try this.” I froze for a few seconds and just looked at the fully stretched arm on the man in overalls wearing a Vietnam veterans cap and thought to myself, “I can’t disrespect this man who clearly has served our country.” I put the glass bottle to my lips and prayed, “Dear God, please don’t let me die or catch anything.”  I took a very, very small sip and then told my new friend, “That’s really smooth.”

He appeared to be happy with my response. Jim then offered “That’s made pretty close to here” and gave me the bottle. I think I broke the code. Little did I know that I would ever end up with a 1975 postal jeep, a jug of white liquid and a new friend in Arkansas named Jim.


I am so very thankful to the complete strangers who have mysteriously showed up on every step of our journey to help us with getting our facility ready to support our customers. For me, my passion is service to God, Country and Family and nothing about airplanes. Our mission statement is easy to understand:

“Making a positive difference in the lives of those we employ, we serve and encounter as we earn a fair profit.” My job is trying to ensure that we always live what we profess as we attempt to touch more and more lives, with God’s favor.

Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.