Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 6 seconds.
Situated at Hangar 4 of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM), Onward Aviation is a privately-owned, full-service fixed-base operator (FBO) serving private aircraft operators in Hamilton, Ontario, and across the greater Toronto area. Previously Glanford Aviation, the now-rebranded ground handling company has been operating out of Hamilton since the early ‘80s.
The “rebrand” was an attempt to “change the look and feel,” said Onward founder David Ippolito. “In order for the brand to match the service offering, I identified that a change needed to be made.”
The overhaul of the private aviation facility reimagined it as a premium FBO — including newly renovated hangar space “totaling 40,000 square feet, suited for both long-term and short-term hangarage.”
The renovations of the facility were completed in sections. When Ippolito first acquired Glanford, he started with a full renovation of the flight lounge. The space now offers direct ramp views, large screen TVs, a wellness room, a private flight planning room, showers and an eat-in kitchen.
During the next stage, the entire hangar was “stripped back to the frame” to make the best use of the 40,000 sq ft of hangar space for customers to park their jets.
Onward believes its convenient airport location will prove to be beneficial to customers. Hamilton International is “within a 60-minute drive of over eight million Canadians and at the hub of Canada’s economic activity.” The location, combined with direct airside access, means “taxi times are measured in seconds.”
Ippolito added, “[For] other FBOs in the area, the taxi time alone once you land can be 50-plus minutes. By operating out of Hamilton, we have close relationships with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other airport authorities that allow us to be more efficient.”
Onward offers “on-site CBSA services,” allowing customers to “hit the tarmac” and take advantage of the premium lounge – “to then be in their vehicles in under 10 minutes.”
Ippolito’s vision for Onward is to turn a traditionally “transactional operation into a set of meaningful human relationships.”
Outside of entrepreneurship, Ippolito is an active director of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, a professional pilot and honorary colonel of ATESS, 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. He also supported the production of “Reunion of Giants,” a documentary honoring the 120,000 Bomber Command veterans who served in the Second World War. The film captured the 2014 reunion of the last two airworthy Lancaster Bombers: the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster, Vera, meets her British counterpart, Thumper — the Lancaster belonging to the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight).
Ippolito’s commitment to preserving aviation history can be felt in the structure of the premium FBO, too. He told Skies it was most imperative that he keep “the original wood ceiling braces,” adding that they create a “certain level of character” not seen in most FBOs.
“[By] keeping the frame, we continue the legacy of Glanford,” he said.
Although the new signage was installed in mid-2020, Onward’s grand opening occurred in March 2021. “We currently have space available for hangarage opportunities. Our focus is securing new clients that are looking to park their jets at our facility,” said Ippolito. The company’s other focus area for growth is increasing its “daily in and out flights.”
According to Ippolito, Onward’s hangar space is equipped to service all sizes of aircraft, and can accommodate up to eight to 10 jets.
Before the renovation, the company operated FBO and cargo services out of one facility. “During construction, I made the decision to separate the two operations to offer a better experience for our customers,” he said. “We have secured an additional hangar at the Hamilton Airport to better serve our cargo clients.”
Ippolito sees the pandemic as an opportunity for Onward to prove itself. “Flight traffic as a whole is down,” he said. “There is an opportunity to provide premium aviation services out of Hamilton. The pandemic afforded us time to build the best possible facility so we can focus on evolving our service offering to current and future clients.”