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Pace Airlines is an Americanmarker charter airline based in Winston-Salemmarker, North Carolinamarker, USAmarker. It operates executive passenger and sports flight charters. Its main base is Smith Reynolds Airportmarker, Winston-Salem.


The airline was established in January 1996 and started as Pace Airlines after Piedmont Aviation Services was granted Federal Aviation Administration and United States Department of Transportation approval on March 26, 1996.

The first General Manager of Pace was Jerry Angel, formerly of Piedmont Airlines and later Leisure Air. The first aircraft on certificate was N487GS, a 737-200 previously of Western Airlines and Viscount, owned by the NBA Charlotte Hornets. The initial business model was executive charter service for primarily sports teams and businesses in a 44 seat all first-class configuration. Quickly 3 more aircraft were added to the certificate, N9075U, N159PL, and N37NY.

Piedmont Aviation Services was merged with Hawthorne Aviation in July 1998 and became Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation. PHA was owned by the Carlyle Group located in Washington, DC. In January 2000 Mr. Darrell Richardson was recruited as the new President of Pace Airlines. Mr. Richardson had been Chief Operating Officer of Mesaba Airlines since 1995. Immediately, Mr. Richardson began to grow the airline. This saw the first major contract for the company, with Vacation Express out of ATL to operate 6 737-300s. N371PA, 372, 373, 374, 375, and 377. This was a very successful operation. Operating out of cities such as BWI, IAD, CVG, IND, SDF, CLT and ATL to a hub in Orlando Sanford SFB, where flights continued on to SXM, PUJ, CUN, LIR, and MBJ. As a 'scheduled charter' carrier, these flights operated 5 days per week. The first flights for Vacation Express by Pace were launched on Thanksgiving Day, 2001. Pace Airlines, Inc. was sold to Pace Airlines, LLC & Pace Airlines II, LLC in December 2002, which became the parent company of Pace Airlines, Inc.

Additional aircraft were added over the years, mainly 737-200s and a handful of 757-200s. Contracts came for such city pairs as JFK-POS (752) and MBS-LBX (732). In late December of 2002, the owner of Hooters, Robert H. Brooks, agreed to become the owner of Pace Airlines. Hooters Air was born.

Hooters Air

Robert H. Brooks began looking for an airline to buy in 2002. He first approached bankrupt Vanguard Airlines of Kansas City, MO. They rebuffed his offer to buy their assets, so he turned his eye toward Winston-Salem and Pace Airlines. He purchased the company in late December 2002, and began laying the groundwork to bring a new airline to Myrtle Beach, SC. With a former executive of Vanguard, he formed Hooters Air using the Hooters identity as the draw to attract passengers. Hooters Air offices were headquarted in Myrtle Beach, while the operations/maintenance/flight personnel directly controlled by Pace Airlines remained largely based in Winston-Salem in the former Piedmont/USAirways Tom Davis Training Center.

Hooters Air began service in April of 2003 with daily flights between ATL-MYR and BWI-MYR utilizing B737-200s. Gradually EWR, CMH, LCK, GYY, PIT, RSW, and NAS (Nassau) were added. Service to Gary, IN (GYY) operated as direct service from MYR with a stopover in Columbus, OH (LCK). Gary was marketed as service to Chicago, as the drive time to downtown Chicago was quicker than from ORD. [278082] The aircraft utilized for Hooters were N250TR (B732), N252TR (B732), N371PA (B733), N370WL (B733), N380WL (B733), and N750WL (B752). The fall of 2004 was spent preparing the airline for 180 ETOPS with the 757-200. Plans were to possibly run vacation charters to Hawaii from the West Coast. Proving flights were operated between OAK-HNL. Authorization was granted in November of 2004, but never put into service with Vacation Express.

In February 2005, a decision was made to inaugurate Hooters Air service from Rockford, IL (RFD) to Denver (DEN) and Las Vegas (LAS). The flights from RFD were guaranteed profitability from the local Airport Authority in the form of route subsidies. [278083] Non-stop service between MYR-LAS utilizing the 737-300 was studied several times, but never started. For a period of time in 2005, there were also RFD-ATL nonstop flights. The summer of 2005 saw a huge spike in oil prices, a direct result of speculation in the run-up and aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This upward surge in jet fuel prices, combined with competition from United Airlines (also given subsidies) resulted in the termination of service to Rockford in December 2005. [278084]

In August of 2005, Hooters Air also began non-stop service between Allentown (ABE) and St Petersburg/Clearwater, FL (PIE), and also Ft Lauderdale (FLL). These flights only lasted a few months as the carrier ran into difficult times. [278085]

Once a promising concept, Hooters Air succumbed to the fate of most start up airlines since deregulation and ceased operations in the spring of 2006. The certificate holder Pace Airlines fell back to their core business of providing sports and vacation charter flights.


Pace Airlines has recently been forced to discontinue its complicated ties to Direct Air's Southern Skyways operations. As of 9/11/2009 lawsuits against the latter are pending for breach of contract.


Pace Airlines, Inc. fills a niche in the airline charter business specializing in transporting professional and collegiate sports teams, VIP charters, corporate shuttles and aircraft management. Pace also operates a FAR 145 maintenance facility and performs heavy maintenance for several major airlines and leasing companies.



The Pace Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (at September 12, 2009):

Pace Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Notes
Boeing 737-200 6 1 operating for Cleveland Cavaliers
Boeing 737-300 1
Boeing 737-400 2 1 operating for Madison Square Gardenmarker
1 operating for Swift Air
Boeing 757-200 1 Operating for Dallas Mavericks
Equipped with winglets
Boeing 767-200 1 Operating for Dallas Mavericks


  1. Pace Airlines Fleet

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