Founded on safety: the story of Security Aviation

Thirty-plus years ago, our company founder realized Alaska was changing, and the Wild West of frontier aviation needed to evolve. With the state of Alaska undergoing a massive influx of investment and people, the business community would benefit from an air charter company that could meet stringent safety requirements. Security Aviation was created to meet that need, and still does today.

It all started with security.

Company founder Mike O’Neill didn’t originally set out to start an Alaska air charter company. Far from it. Drawn from Michigan to Alaska as a young man in search of adventure, O’Neill was a classic example of someone who intended to live in Alaska for a few years, and then move back to the Lower 48. Like so many others, O’Neill found Alaska impossible to leave, and he put down roots in the Last Frontier. O’Neill was an entrepreneur at heart, and launched his own collections agency, helping business owners track down bad check writers and other debtors. Before long, his business became so successful that the growing numbers of grocery and department stores springing up in Alaska enlisted his services. Eventually, O’Neill’s collections work morphed into full-blown security work, with focus on surveillance, and fraud and theft prevention.

The pipeline changed everything.

The trans-Alaska oil pipeline’s construction was a transformative moment for many in Alaska, including Mike O’Neill and his security business. In a big win for his company, O’Neill landed the contract to provide security for ARCO on the North Slope. As a pilot himself, O’Neill first used his own Cessna 310, then purchased a Navajo Chieftain to fly his employees back and forth from the Slope.

(Aviation) safety first.

As O’Neill’s business grew, he began to see a need in Alaska’s aviation community: an on-demand, Part 135 private charter flight company that catered to the growing number of business customers in Alaska, but with a safety-minded headquarters after seeing reputation for fast and loose Bush flying. O’Neill commissioned a feasibility study to look at whether a market existed for a corporate air charter provider. It did, and Security Aviation was born. From day one, the company focused on safety, reliability and impeccable customer service. When the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound in 1989, demand for safe, around-the-clock corporate jet travel spiked. Security Aviation was in the right place at the right time, with the right business model. Business boomed.

Keeping it in the family. 

Mike O’Neill lived and breathed his business. He took the phones home every night, answering calls and taking flights in the middle of the night. His dedication to building a business resulted in incredible success. During this time, O’Neill worked to make Security Aviation a private charter airlines operator of choice for Alaska’s growing business community. Like many small business owners, he worked to the point of sacrificing his own health, and it caught up to him in 1992 when he suffered his first heart attack. He changed his lifestyle over the course of the next four years, only to find himself falling back into his old work habits.  At this point, his son Joe Kapper made the call to move back to Alaska and then assumed management of the company. Tragically, Mike O’Neill succumbed to a second, fatal heart attack in 2002. The company remains in family ownership, led by Kapper and an outstanding management team.

The winning combination: customer service, 24-hour availability, unmatched safety record.

O’Neill’s vision of an air charter service, specializing in safety, remains Security Aviation’s cornerstone. Today, the company features a fleet of all twin-engine aircraft, from the workhorse Conquest, to the sleek, sophisticated Lear 45.

Security Aviation stands out from other air charter companies with focus on:

  • Pilot training
  • Safety audits
  • Is afforded the highest level of insurance available in Alaska.
  • Hours requirements for all pilots
  • “By the book” flying

The “who’s who” of air charter clients in Alaska.

Security Aviation is an approved Part 135 carrier for the Army Corps of Engineers, and certified with the Department of Defense. It speaks volumes about Security Aviation’s reputation when U.S. government department secretaries, senators, oil company executives, CEOs, dignitaries, and military personnel choose the company for their flying needs. In some cases, Security Aviation is the ONLY air charter company authorized to fly these VIPs in and around Alaska. We earn this honor not just because of our strong safety record, but because of the stringent audits we must pass to fly certain customers.

Best in class customer service.

Security Aviation’s other specialty area is customer service. The phone is answered 24/7, 365 days a year. Whether a patient needs a medevac flight to Seattle, or a North Slope drill rig needs a hot part, we aim to be wheels up within an hour after the call comes in. We also cater to customers who need to customize complicated, multi-stage private flights over the course of several hours, days or even weeks. Our experience in Alaska aviation means we offer a vast network of contacts across the state. In other words, we know whom to call for fuel at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those types of contacts are developed over decades of working closely with the aviation community, as well as officials in local cities, towns and villages.