Bill Christian took a roundabout route to the charter flight business, but he’s enjoyed the ride.

“I really enjoy flying people," says Christian, who with his wife, Amy, operates There By Air Charters. “A lot of times passengers will sit up in the cockpit and you really get to know them.”

Christian took some aviation courses in high school in his native Minnesota but didn’t pursue his pilot’s license. “I had to work and went to work as a machinist,” he says.

About 12 years later, with his wife’s encouragement, he earned his pilot’s license and then began training as a flight instructor.

In more than 20 years of flying and instruction, he’s earned the Master Flight Instructor designation from the National Association of Flight Instructors.

Christian was working as the chief flight instructor in 2003 at the former Blue Ash Airport, outside Cincinnati, when the facility operator retired. Bill and Amy bought the business and added the charter service because of the number of businesses in the area.

There By Air, which moved to the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miamisburg about 18 months ago when Blue Ash closed, consists of two, three-passenger, single-engine Cirrus aircraft and a seven-passenger, twin-engine Piper Navajo. They also have access to other aircraft on a subcontract basis.

As one of the last charter operators flying only piston-engine aircraft in the area, There By Air is a more economical way to fly for shorter flights, says Christian.

“The Navajo can cost half as much as a turbo-prop to operate. On a roundtrip to Chicago, the turboprop will cost about $5,500 versus about $2,400 for the Navajo,” he says. Carrying seven passengers, There By Air’s roundtrip price is $342 per passenger including tax.

There By Air’s aircraft still have plenty of range: they can fly anywhere on the East Coast on a single tank of gas. “We have several clients who regularly use us to fly to Fort Meyers and Naples, Fla.,” he says.

There By Air’s planes have access to more locations: roughly 5,000 local community airports compared with the 600 served by major airlines. There By Air can pick up passengers closer to their home or office and fly them closer to their ultimate destination.

That convenience factor, Christian says, makes it possible to fly to several different cities in a single day and still be home by supper. And there’s no need for reservations.

Passengers can fly There By Air with only a couple hours notice, depending on aircraft availability.

Once Christian was called by retail giant Wal-Mart to fly one of its tech experts, who was driving down Interstate 71 to Louisville, to its store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that was shutdown by a computer failure. Christian picked him up at the Blue Ash Airport, flew him to Iowa to get the store up and running, and in a matter of hours flew the expert back to Blue Ash so he could continue his drive to Louisville.

“Our business has been outstanding,” he says, setting a new record for flights for the third consecutive year last year with more than 140 departures.

For more information, call 513-984-5880 or email info@therebyaircharters.com.