A Great Place to Fly

Aviation is more than a hobby or career — it’s a lifestyle propelled by passion. We work very hard to help every one of our customers cultivate this shared passion with our professional team of aviation experts focused on delivering exceptional experiences that are safe and fun. As a critical component of this effort, we provide an ultramodern, first-rate fleet of both airplanes and helicopters that is ideal for charter, training, or renting.

  • Premium Air Charters — We offer VIP-caliber air charter service in a variety of safe, versatile, modern, and comfortable aircraft.
  • World-Class Flight Training — Aspiring pilots excel in our professional flight school thanks to the aid of our state-of-the-art fleet and our incredibly experienced and knowledgeable team of flight instructors.
  • Superior Aircraft Service — Our maintenance and detailing team is committed to serving our clients with a laser focus on attention to detail, keeping our clients feeling great about their aircraft — both inside and out!
Cockpit Selfie
Entering the Aircraft
Open House

Our Mission

At Sweet Aviation, our customers’ success and satisfaction are at the core of why we do what we do. Our mission is to help customers achieve their ambitions of flight by providing a fun, safe, and memorable experience that accomplishes their aviation goals and exceeds expectations.

Sweet Aviation accomplishes this mission by “Doing the Right Thing!”

Events

The aviation community is a group of like-minded, fun, and passionate individuals, and we try to find and create as many opportunities as possible to bring everyone together. We’d love to see you at one of our upcoming events or classes! We’ll be updating this list monthly, so be sure to check back often or get on our mailing list. If there’s an aviation event or meeting you’d like to schedule at Sweet Aviation, get in touch with us.

Sweet Aviation from Above

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Careers

We’re always on the lookout for aviation enthusiasts as passionate about customer service as we are! If you are interested in joining the Sweet Aviation team here in Fort Wayne, feel free to submit your résumé and cover letter. We’ll keep them on file, and if you seem like the right fit for one of our openings, we’ll give you a call.

Hangar Talk

Welcome to Hangar Talk! If you’re looking to learn more about aircraft and flying or simply want to gain a little insight into pilot life, Hangar Talk has it all!

Our Team

Welcome to Sweet Aviation! Flying is more than a hobby or career — it’s a lifestyle propelled by passion. We work very hard to help every one of our customers cultivate that passion by providing an ultramodern, first-rate fleet, ideal for training, chartering, or renting, along with a professional, highly trained staff who love aviation as much as our customers!

Chuck Surack

You may recognize Chuck Surack as the Founder and CEO of Sweetwater Sound, as the owner of luxury car dealership SweetCars, or as a community leader, serving on the boards of many local non-profit organizations.

What you might not know is that Chuck is a helicopter pilot and aircraft enthusiast. Inspired by his aviator father, Chuck has loved flying since childhood, even keeping his Boy Scouts Aviation merit badge to this day. His first flying experiences were in his dad’s Aeronca Chief based right here at Smith Field. Chuck would go on to own many other airplanes and helicopters, such as the Cessna 414, Cessna Citations, and the Eurocopter EC130, just to name a few. He loves flying and can often be found at the helm of a helicopter. He and his wife, Lisa, have two sons and a daughter.

Joel Pierce

A fan of flight ever since childhood, Joel earned his private pilot certificate in September 2002.

In 2003, he attended the International ALERT Academy, where he obtained his instrument rating along with his commercial and flight instructor certificates. After graduating, he joined the ALERT faculty as a flight instructor and an assistant department manager. During this time, Joel met his wife, Laura. They married in 2006 and now have two children. In 2008, Joel became the flight operations director for Smith Field Air Service and now leads the staff at Sweet Aviation. Joel has over 5,000 hours of flight instruction and is driven by a passion for helping customers achieve their dreams. Joel is type rated in Sweet Aviation’s Cirrus Vision Jet, certified to fly a customer’s T-28, able to fly some aerobatic maneuvers in the Super Decathlon, and on top of all this, he gets to share his intense passion for flying with so many other aviation enthusiasts in the Fort Wayne area.

Sean Barr

Sean is originally from the Detroit, Michigan, area.

After graduating with honors from the US Air Force Academy with a BS in political science and a German language minor, he went on to serve 11 years on active duty as an Air Force special operations pilot. During that time, he logged over 2,100 hours of flight time, including over 1,000 hours of combat time over Iraq and Afghanistan. He flew C-130, AC-130, and PC-12 aircraft and earned a Bronze Star and 11 Air Medals. He later earned an MA in theological studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and spent two years pastoring a small church in Lynchburg, Virginia, while attending A&P school. After graduating first in his class from Liberty University’s aviation maintenance technician program, he earned A&P inspector authorization through self-study. Sean has four daughters, and in addition to his flight and theological interests, he also enjoys traveling, camping, hunting, and spending time with his family.

Craig Agapie

Craig came to Fort Wayne in 2007 after earning bachelor of science degrees at Indiana State University in professional aviation and aerospace administration.

He has earned an airline transport pilot certificate plus single, multi, glider, and instrument ratings in addition to Gold Seal CFI, CFII, and MEI certificates and an SF50 Vision Jet type rating. He has taught tailwheel and aerobatics for hundreds of hours in a Super Decathlon and was the chief simulator instructor at ISU. In his 10,000+ flight hours, Craig has developed two passions: helping customers get to their meetings and vacations as smoothly and safely as possible, and helping fellow pilots become fully competent and confident throughout the flight envelope through aerobatic and tailwheel instruction. (Although he does also love sharing the fun of a good “$100 hamburger” trip with new and old friends alike!) He joined Sweet Aviation full-time in March 2017 after spending the previous two and a half years running a non-profit auto repair ministry. He and his wife, Rachel, have five boys and are active members of Fellowship Missionary Church.

Andrew Herman

Andrew is from Bryan, Ohio, and has flown charters across the country for the last six years based out of Akron and Milwaukee. After getting a taste for flight in seventh grade, Andrew earned his aviation degree from Bowling Green State University and did his flight training in Ohio, Connecticut, and North Dakota. Andrew has flight time and ratings in a multitude of aircraft, and in addition to his charter experience, he has 1,200 hours of flight instruction. He enjoys helping aspiring and current pilots improve their knowledge and skills by sharing his varied experiences, personal knowledge, and passion for flying. Andrew lives in Fort Wayne with his wife and daughter.

Lorin Kaney

Lorin grew up in Northwest Indiana and has long had a passion for flying.

He started flying at the International ALERT Academy in Big Sandy, Texas, in 2003. Over the next several years, he obtained his private pilot license, his instrument rating, and his airframe and powerplant license. After finishing up his CFI and CFII, he continued on as an instructor at ALERT. He and his wife met at school there and were married in 2011. In June of 2012, he moved to the Fort Wayne area and began working as an instructor at Sweet Aviation. He really enjoys sharing the joy of flying with his students and guiding them to become safe and proficient pilots.

Michael Neese

Michael is originally from the small Hoosier town of Cloverdale.

After graduating from Manchester University, he relocated to the Indianapolis area, working for an international logistics ompany for six years. He changed career paths abruptly after a helicopter tour around the San Francisco Bay Area. Michael was immediately hooked on aviation. Upon moving to Fort Wayne, Michael began helicopter flight training at Sweet Aviation where he has obtained his fixed-wing private pilot certificate and helicopter CFI rating. In addition to his helicopter instruction duties, Michael also operates a non-profit sports foundation and several other ventures, while aviation remains his passion.

Paul Wilhelmson

Paul grew up in Bolivia flying in mission aviation airplanes and has had a passion for flight ever since.

He earned his private, instrument, commercial, and A&P certificates at the School of Missionary Aviation Technology in Michigan. He then spent a few years working in the mission aviation community as a pilot and A&P in both Indonesia and Bolivia. In 2011, he married his wife, Jami, and they now have four children. Paul spent the last few years working as an A&P/IA in Indianapolis while adding his multi-engine commercial and certified flight instructor ratings. Paul enjoys sharing his unique experience and passion for aviation with others, and he is always ready to help you achieve your aviation goals.

Christopher Houser

Chris has earned private pilot ratings for both fixed-wing and helicopters and went on to continue his training to earn his helicopter instrument instructor rating.

As a certified helicopter flight instructor, Chris has experience in flying several different makes and models of helicopters, including Bell, Robinson, Eurocopter, Enstrom, and Guimbal. He is also a certified drone operator. Chris is a third-generation pilot and enjoys sharing his passion for flying with the instruction of everyone from first-time flyers to experienced pilots. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in law and society from Purdue University and is an active police officer, having graduated from Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

Jason Cutter

Jason has been a pilot for more than 30 years in a wide variety of airplanes, flying both domestically and internationally, and has recently transitioned to the exciting world of helicopters. As a pilot, Jason has experience in over 40 different types of airplanes and five different helicopters — Guimbal Cabri G2, Enstrom, Robinson R-44, Airbus H130, and MD500. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology from Purdue University, Jason went on to pursue a master’s degree in organizational leadership and a PhD in global leadership from Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. In addition to his helicopter instructing duties with Sweet Aviation, Jason is also a full-time faculty member at Purdue. Flight instructing is the perfect combination of Jason’s passions for rotary wing aviation and education!

Chris Borozan

Chris Borozan grew up in the Chicago suburbs where he attended Northern Illinois University.

Eventually, Chris ended up in Fort Wayne, where, after a Discovery Flight with Sweet Aviation, he made the easy choice to begin flight training and preparation for a career in aviation. Two of the many highlights in his aviation journey so far are flying a Rutan Long-EZ from Colorado to SMD and flying a Cirrus SR20 to Michigan with his wife for their honeymoon. Chris is a valued CFI and ground school instructor for Sweet Aviation.

David DeWald

Listening to his dad tell stories of flying B-17s, David dreamed of flying as a boy.

Those dreams came true when John Dilly, owner of Fort Wayne Air Service, offered to teach him to fly in exchange for window cleaning services. David’s wife, Paula, whose father was a float pilot in Canada, joined him in purchasing their first plane, a Cessna 150, complete with a hangar at Smith Field. David’s love for flying naturally grew into a love of pilots, airports, and everything about aviation. When Smith Field was in danger of closing, he became president of Smith Air Field Forever (SAFE), aiding the grassroots movement that helped save the airport. He later served two terms as president of the local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter. David holds commercial and instrument instructor ratings in both single-engine land and sea and multi-engine land. While running a successful window cleaning business, he has still found time to introduce hundreds of young people to their first flight by way of the Young Eagles program. He loves to teach people of all ages and is quick to share his passion for flying.

Bob Schmelz

Bob Schmelz has been an instructor in the Fort Wayne area since March of 1987 and finds aviation to be a wonderful family hobby and career path.

He volunteers with all three aviation programs available to young men, young ladies, and adults: EAA Young Eagles, Scouting’s Aviation Explorers, and the Civil Air Patrol, a United States Air Force Auxiliary. Bob is rated for single-engine land with instrument and commercial privileges, plus glider and multi-engine endorsements.

Carl Doe

Carl Dole became interested in aviation at an early age, starting with his first ride in a Cessna 182 piloted by his uncle.

Carl was able to take the controls for part of that flight and caught the aviation bug, eventually working his way to CFI. He has experience in various single-engine aircraft, including being the sole owner of a PA-16 tailwheel aircraft. Carl has taught many college courses as an adjunct instructor and enjoys applying his teaching skills to flight training with Sweet Aviation. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Lonnie Powell

Lonnie Powell has loved airplanes since getting his first model plane as a kid.

He wanted to be a pilot at a young age and was finally able to pursue his dream when, as a young sailor, he joined the local Navy Flight Club at Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California. He learned to fly among the Sierra Nevada Mountains that surround the farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley in California. After his service in the Navy, he returned home to Fort Wayne, where he went on to earn his commercial and instrument ratings and certified flight instructor certificate. Lonnie is the proud father of three young men and holds an undergrad degree from Huntington University and master’s degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University and Bethel College.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith was born in Atlanta, but has lived most of his life in Fort Wayne.

Alex began flight training in high school, then pursued a bachelor’s degree in aviation management with flight technology at Florida Tech where he graduated with honors. While at Florida Tech, Alex received his private pilot and single and multi-engine commercial certificates, in addition to an instrument rating. He spent the summer of 2018 at Newark Liberty International Airport as a flight operations intern with United Airlines and is quick to tell stories about his amazing experiences. Alex has recently earned his certified flight instructor Certificate and looks forward to a rewarding career in the aviation industry, with goals of becoming an airline pilot.

Jonah Cooper

Jonah grew up in Central Indiana and has had a passion for aviation ever since taking his first ride in an airliner.

He spent the summer of 2012 at the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he first got to take the controls of an aircraft. He went on to do the rest of his training at Purdue University, where he graduated with a BS in professional flight with a minor in organizational leadership. Jonah attributes much of his love for aviation to his grandfather, who was a surviving crew member of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II.

Tyson Whitner

Tyson grew up in Fort Wayne and got into flying after his first flight with the Young Eagles at Smith Field.

While attending North Side High School he participated in the Anthis Program, and during his junior and senior years he worked toward his A&P license. After graduation, he attended Indiana State University to pursue a degree in professional flight technologies while also playing football for the Sycamores. Indiana State is where Tyson received his private, instrument, commercial, CFI, and CFII certificates. Tyson is eager to share his passion for flying with the community.

David Tippman

David was born and raised in Fort Wayne where he grew up with 10 siblings.

After graduating from Bishop Dwenger High School, he attended Purdue University and obtained a bachelor of science in professional flight technology, graduating with distinction. From his first flight at Purdue, he was hooked and worked to become an instrument-rated commercial pilot in both single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. While at Purdue, he also became an instructor and later a CFII. He loves to instruct and is always willing to help others learn more about flying. In his free time, he likes to bike, swim, or do anything that involves being outside. His goal is to become an airline pilot.

Brett Uecker

Brett grew up in Churubusco, Ind. and is a graduate of Churubusco High School. He attended Purdue University where he attained a bachelors of science in professional flight technology. His took his first introductory flight at Purdue and it’s one of his most memorable flights to this day. While at Purdue, he received his private, instrument, and commercial pilots license in single and multi-engine aircraft. He also received training in Purdue’s Phenom 100 business jet. He earned his CFI at Sweet Aviation and joined the team of instructors shortly after. He enjoys being able to share his knowledge with new pilots but also learning new things and growing as a pilot himself.

Tony Gongaware

Tony grew up in the Chicago area and attended Olivet Nazarene University. After 3 years in full-time youth ministry, he began working as a college baseball coach. Following stops in Illinois, Missouri, and Florida he and his family settled in Fort Wayne. After taking a discovery flight he was immediately ‘all-in’ on pursuing a career in aviation. He is passionate about helping others learn and can’t wait to pass on his enthusiasm for flight with future pilots!

Rick Knight

Rick Knight has been flying for nearly 50 years. His early days were spent at Smith Field where he was a private pilot and flight instructor. Always impressed by military fighters, Rick later entered Air Force pilot training, learning to fly the T-37 and T-38. After graduating, he was assigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where he spent six months training in the F-100 Super Sabre. He then returned to the Fort Wayne Air National Guard, where he spent the next 15 years flying the F-100, F-4C, and F-4E. In 1976, he began working for American Airlines; he flew the 727, S80, 737, 757, and 767. His airline career spanned over 35 years and allowed him to travel the world. In 2000, he became an instructor, or “check airman,” for the airline in the S80 and later in the 737, training pilots in both the simulator and the aircraft. He expanded his check airman role in 2002 when he became part of the Human Factors team and later the Human Factors lead check airman and developer of programs. When US Airways purchased American Airlines in early 2013, Rick was part of the team involved in merging the two training programs. He retired from American Airlines in 2015 and has come back to Smith Field to help with developing and teaching ground school.

Hanna Miller

A lifelong resident of the Fort Wayne area, Hannah joined Sweet Aviation in June of 2014.

She is not a pilot (yet), but she does enjoy the aviation community and looks forward to her annual trips to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Rachel Cheng

Rachel brings over 15 years of customer service experience to Sweet Aviation.

She is a Fort Wayne native and graduate of Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she obtained a BA in psychology. Rachel joined Sweet Aviation as a customer service representative in 2015 and hopes to join the ranks of being a pilot someday soon!

Scotty Hepler

Scotty works as a corporate recruiter for Buchanan Hauling and Rigging. He became a private pilot in 1986 and retired from the Air National Guard as an air traffic controller after 22 years. He also retired as a volunteer firefighter and EMT after 22 years of service. He is a member of Central Church in Fort Wayne.

Michael Brewer

Michael attended Vincennes University in the aviation flight program.

There, he received private, commercial, and instrument flight training. He only recently returned to the aviation industry after an exciting 18-year adventure in the live music industry. Now, being a part of the “Sweet Family” of businesses, he gets to enjoy his passion for both music and flying. 

Dale Huber

Dale was born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, and has been around aviation since he was a young boy.

He moved to Fort Wayne in 1986 with General Motors. He worked there in maintenance until retiring in 2012. Dale received his private pilot’s license in 1995, has many interests, and enjoys riding motorcycles. Dale proudly served in the Air Force in civil engineering.

Tim Ormsby

Tim has a longtime love for flying, obtaining his private pilot license in 1987 right here at Smith Field Airport.

Tim incorporated flying into the truck sales business he owned until 2017. He has owned several different single and twin-engine airplanes and has logged over 3,450 hours of total flight time. Tim is a mission pilot with the Civil Air Patrol and enjoys doing Young Eagle flights and flying rescue dogs to new foster homes for Pilots ‘n Paws.

Josh Wietfeldt

Joshua’s interest in aviation began while traveling for vacation and he quickly became a passion. He completed all of his flight training with Sweet Aviation and became a private pilot in 2020. He intends to pursue his other certifications and major in professional aviation flight technology in college.

Taylor Fear

Taylor was born and raised in Northeast Indiana. After graduating high school from Bluffton, he attended IPFW and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Shortly after graduating from IPFW (now PFW), Taylor took his first Discovery Flight at Sweet Aviation and was instantly hooked and now plans to pursue flight training to become a pilot.  When he is not busy studying for his MBA, he enjoys helping others start their aviation journey.