A&M Aviationis old-school Bolingbrook.
So much so that it’s been around since Boyd Clow owned all of the property around Weber Road and the airport butted up to the street.
The village has seen plenty of changes since then. Much of the land has been sold and is currently occupied by shopping centers, but A&M remains— where it always has, at the heart of Bolingbrook’s .
Jim Harvilchuck and wife Jolan bought the business in 2001 when most of the airport renovations were made.
Jim had just retired early from the chemicals business. He “needed something to do.”
That something turned into a thriving aviation enterprise with a local flavor.
“Actually, it’s a ... kind of laid-back community,” he said. “The businesses are nice, the people are nice, the government and the mayor are very positive.
"We don’t get people coming in from 100 miles away, so it’s kind of a local draw and we’ve had great support from people in Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Naperville. It’s a nice, quaint atmosphere.”
The soft-spoken Orland Park native said he's always loved to fly.
But Jolan Harvilchuck prefers to remain grounded among the business' administrative responsibilities and acting as a second mom to A&M staff.
And the troubles within the FAA haven’t reached A&M, Jim Harvilchuck said, and economic turmoil nationwide hasn’t been too much of a problem either.
“With the economy and everything, you don’t know. But it’s been doing really well,” he said.
A&M offers both airplane and helicopter flight instruction, rentals and charters. The business, according to Jim Harvilchuck, employs five people and 11 independent instructors.
But those are just a few of the things that make it a true community gem.
A&M’s open house, which began simply as a day to show off a few planes to a handful of people, has grown an event that topped 15,000 visitors this year—many know it as the .
This year A&M awarded its first Flight Training Grant Program to a Lyons Township High School student who, in exchange for submitting the best essay, received training for a private pilot’s license free of cost.
For the recreational aviator, there is a flight club that travels to Mackinac Island every summer and the Bahamas every November. The club even travels to dinner in Watertown or Oshkosh, Wis., or Bloomington or Valparaiso, Ind., about once a month.
For those who want to learn, A&M offers instruction at all levels, from sports pilot to instrument ratings and flight instructor certificates.
“All of the training is geared to the pace of the student,” Harvilchuck said, adding that certification requires 40 hours of training that may be done in a month or over time on weekends depending on the needs of the student.