The History of Elliott Aviation
Creating a Legacy
Elliott Aviation is one of the oldest privately operated, family held aviation companies in the industry. Since 1936, it has grown and evolved, adapted and innovated to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers. Elliott Aviation’s world-class service company actually began quite modestly in 1936 when Herb Elliott started Elliott Flying Service on a grass airstrip in DeWitt, Iowa. Although the airport had a hangar, it had no water or electricity. An old farm truck with a 300-gallon gas tank served as a holding tank for avgas. Elliott traded flying lessons for what he needed, including a well and a pump. He invited his high school sweetheart, Arlene Stoltenberg, to be his bookkeeper.
Their intuition and knack for pleasing customers resulted in Elliott Flying Service selling a staggering 13 aircraft in its first year. With initial success underway, Herb and Arlene married in 1939.
When World War II interrupted the pursuit of their dream, the couple relocated to Bonham, Texas, where Herb served as a civilian flight instructor, a flight commander at the Army Primary Flight School and later as a pilot ferrying combat aircraft around the world.
After the war, Herb and Arlene returned to Davenport and resumed business at Cram Field’s grass strip. After adding an office, reception area and pilot’s lounge, they expanded their operation to include dealerships in Piper and Beech aircraft. They were the first independent contractor to offer twin-engine charters from the Quad Cities. In 1947, they became an exclusive dealer of Beechcraft products.
Two years later, the Elliott’s relocated their business to the new Davenport Municipal Airport in Mount Joy and began providing maintenance services. Success brought the opening of a Des Moines, Iowa operation in 1958, a Minneapolis, Minn. branch in 1972, and another facility in Omaha, Neb. in 1982. The headquarters and Quad Cities service location was moved to Moline in 1961, and construction of Elliott Aviation’s current facility was completed in 1982.
Over the years, Herb and Arlene, both pilots, received numerous civic and industry awards. In 1976, Beechcraft renamed their annual “Man of the Year” award, and presented the Elliott’s with the first ever “Team of the Year” award. The couple is listed in the Beechcraft Hall of Fame and has received the National Air Transportation Association’s Distinguished Service Award. Herb and Arlene are also the first married couple to share induction into the Quad City Area Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.
Herb and Arlene’s son, Wynn, assumed the company’s helm in 1993 overseeing Elliott Aviation’s entire network of operations and extensive expansions. In 1995, the company changed its name to Elliott Aviation to better reflect the full scope of services provided. At Elliott Aviation’s three Midwest locations, over 350 highly trained and experienced employees follow in their founders’ footsteps to provide the industry’s finest aviation services.
In 2003, Elliott Aviation opened its Completions Center in Moline offering turnkey custom interior design services, custom woodworking and cabinetry, avionics installations and modifications, noise reduction installations, and paint.
In 2007, a new Paint and Interior Design Center was constructed at the company’s Moline facility on the Quad City International Airport. The center combines sophisticated, industry-leading technology with time-honed craftsmanship to deliver whatever the customer envisions.
In 2008, Elliott Aviation completed its new $8 million facility in Des Moines, IA, adjacent to their already existing building at Des Moines International Airport. The year also marked the 50th anniversary celebration of Elliott Aviation’s existence in Des Moines.