A PERSONAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN AIRCRAFT SALES
Our founder, my dad, Charlie Tolbert, was the navigator, machine gunner and bombardier on a US Army Air Corps B-24 during WWII. Shot down five times, he also spent some time as a POW in Nazi Germany. He got his pilot’s license in the early ’50s, flying fabric airplanes held together more by the pilot’s ingenuity and motivation to fly than by any kind of structural integrity. But that was Charlie. Nothing could stop him.
After WWII, he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering on the GI Bill. While he was an excellent electrician he soon realized that his personality and desire for customer satisfaction were better suited for sales. He became a top sales performer with a few different companies before joining American Trailer, where he rose through the ranks all the way to company President.
But the skies were where he lived. After growing American Trailer substantially, he retired to pursue his passion as a flight instructor and professional pilot. On the day he was to take his commercial flight instructor’s examination he was approached while fueling his airplane in Washington DC by a man who had heard of his reputation for being able to sell anything. He wanted Charlie to join his team selling the latest aircraft that were taking to the sky, the private jets. Dad immediately cancelled his exam, headed to the aircraft sales office, and never looked back.
Charlie quickly soared as a rising star in aircraft sales, and it wasn’t long before he was ready to take off on his own. In 1968 American Aircraft Sales was established and today we are one of perhaps 3 companies worldwide that has continuously sold jet aircraft under the same name ever since. The name was homage to both his country and his success at American Trailer. A product of America’s “Greatest Generation,” Charlie built American Aircraft Sales from the ground up with a work ethic that included long hours and attention to every last detail. These efforts were rewarded with lasting business relationships, repeat customers, and lasting success. And it’s something I still take to heart every day.
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I remember always having aircraft in inventory that we could fly for fun and take out on family trips. One of my earliest memories was flying with Dad in a King Air, the first airplane he let me fly. We were on a flight to Lakeland for some interior upgrades when Dad said “your plane.” Of course, being 10, I promptly yoked it into an attempted barrel roll before he was able to stop me and level it back off, but he didn’t give up, because he never gave up. He let me have control again, and patiently gave me my first lesson in flying and even landing the aircraft.
Dad and I shared a lot of good times, and after I began working with him at AAS, those memories grew into the business, building relationships and selling airplanes together. My father is gone now, but the passion and appreciation for the industry that he instilled in me will always live on as his lasting legacy. This business, this industry, and all of the relationships we’ve built over the years are just like a family.
So welcome. Welcome to our family.
President, American Aircraft Sales