GLE Airlines 2015 - Our History
 
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NEWS: TWO LIVERIES FOR THE FSX / P3D MAJESTIC Q400 HAVE BEEN UPLOADED - THANKS TO MATT WOHLFORD GLE234

HOW DID GREAT LAKES EXPRESS COME ABOUT?
I (James Kohan) started Great Lakes Express in January 1997. Before starting Great Lakes Express, I served as a line pilot for Noble Airlines, flying from their Philadelphia and Chicago O'Hare hubs. After some internal Noble Airlines issues (basically, the Hub Manager shut down the ORD hub without notice), I wanted to find another VA.

Wanting to fly close to home (Northeast Ohio), and stick with short-range flights, I couldn't find anything that interested me. Having the necessary HTML skills, I decided try starting up my own VA.

Why a Regional VA? 1) Short, regional flights are common in the real-world Midwest United States. At that time, no VA offered such flights, or even focused on the Great Lakes region 2) I wanted shorter duration flights that could be done in less than 1 hour, and 3) I prefers the smaller regional airliners.

THE EARLY YEARS, WITH SOME EXPANSION THROWN IN
It was a pretty low-tech startup. Hosting was on the free Geocities website. The website was built in Notepad, then FrontPage 98. Pilot Reports (PIREPs) and other paperwork was received via email and manually entered into an Excel spreadsheet, and later, an Access database before the website was manually updated.

Our initial fleet consisted of the B1900D, CRJ-200, and EMB-120. Search flightsim.com for "Kohan" to see some of our other early livery offerings. Hubs were Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago O'Hare. Life was simple, life was good.

Then expansion set in. Our fleet grew to 13 different airframes, all the way up to the 737-400. Hubs grew, adding Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Toronto, Minneapolis, and Green Bay. Sister airlines were added - Tidewater Express (serving Virginia and the Carolinas), Appalachian Express (serving Appalachians), and Voyager Airlines (a long haul carrier) - to offer pilots a little variety.

A HANDOFF, WORLDWIDE EXPANSION, ANOTHER HANDOFF, CONSOLIDATION
At its peak, Great Lakes and its sister airlines had 360 active pilots (active = at least 1 flight per month). As the VAs grew, so did the time needed to manage them. Unfortunately, I needed to focus on real-world work and a new family, so after 5 years I passed control to Chuck King, one of my GLE pilots, in 2002.

Chuck ran GLE for 7 years. Under his leadership, GLE grew into a consortium of 14 VAs spanning the globe. As it happened with Jim, real-world work (Chuck was just starting his own business) limited the time available to manage Great Lakes Express, so in July 2009, Great Lakes Express was passed to Paul Herman (also one of my original GLE pilots).

Paul ran GLE for 4 years. GLE was folded into Paul's existing VAs, offering service to most of North America, and charter flights to the Caribbean. Fleet ranged from the B1900D to the 757-200. During his leadership, GLE gained automation when Paul inaugurated use of the VAFS system for pilot management and flight tracking.

YET ANOTHER HANDOFF, GETTING BACK TO BASICS
In June 2013, Paul Herman decided to shut down Great Lakes Express and focus on his Premier Airways airlines. I reached out to Paul, and was able to get Great Lakes Express back. We're using this opportunity to go back to basics and focus on what we do best, offering regional flights to the Midwest and Great Lakes region of the United States.

As of June 2015, our hub cities are Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Rochester, and Sault Ste Marie. In addition to our Beech 1900D, fleet consists of a mix of Bombardier, DeHavilland, and Embraer aircraft, none larger than 70 seats. We're launching a new website, with a new look and feel, and a new logo.

Here is GLE's new logo - it's meant to represents the 5 Great Lakes, and honors our Beech 1900D heritage.

Will expansion set in (as it has for every iteration of GLE)? Possibly, but we're hoping to keep it in check!


©James Kohan, All Rights Reserved - Contact Us - Great Lakes Express VA is not affiliated with the real-world carrier Great Lakes Aviation