Creating The Legacy That Is American Jet Industries

For 45 years, Michael Saso made his mark all across the aircraft industry in a myriad of different ways, but none more important than the relationships he created and the countless lives that he touched and changed. His singular drive and ferocious work ethic were on display from the time he set foot in his father's company's warehouse in 1971 to his last day at his own company, American Jet Industries, in September of 2016.


Michael began working in the warehouse division of the company that employed his father, Samuel Saso. Having a photographic memory, he earned the reputation of being able to track down any part within seconds.  If he had seen a part one time in some random box on the top of some random shelf, he could recall the number and location instantly.


California Aeromotive relocated to Van Nuys, California and rebranded itself as “American Jet." Owner Al Paulson asked Michael to oversee the company's day-to-day operations. During this time, the President of NASA personally penned a letter to Al Paulson, praising Michael’s work ethic, intelligence and ingenuity. 

1975 – 1982

Michael honed his skills for knowing how, where and when to buy planes, against all odds. He bought a 737 that slid into the snow in Casper, Wyoming. He bought a 727-200 that splashed down in the ocean off the coast of Miami. He bought a DC-930 that skidded the whole length of the runway during landing. One of his most revered purchases, the acquisition of the entire inventory of an AirAsia 727 was the impetus that catapulted American Jet into the “jet” business.


Al Paulson bought a subsidiary of Grumman Aerospace that was responsible for creating the line of Gulfstream Jets. Al Paulson renamed his new company Gulfstream American and asked Michael and his father, Sam to take over operations at American Jet. 


Since taking charge of American Jet's operations in 1982, Michael tripled the company's sales, hired the best people he could find, bought a massive inventory of DC-8s from Flying Tigers and another huge inventory from Northwest Orient, and developed new strategies for advertising his inventory. These accomplishments resulted in the company being sold to Aviation Sales, a subsidiary of Ryder. 


During a yearly meeting, a Ryder executive presented Michael with an award called the “Michael Saso Award.” They had created this award to be their version of the MVP and it has since been given each year to the most successful employee in the company.  


Ryder sold American Jet to Aviation Sales, putting Michael in charge until it was acquired five years later by Aerospace International. Now responsible for purchasing activities to support this $300 million/year company, Michael exceeded the requisite 15% growth rate during his first year. In 1995, Aerospace International went public. The stock opened at $13.15. By 1998, it was worth $47.50.  


When Aviation Sales decided to sell, Michael decided to re-establish American Jet as its own entity, relocating the company to Southern California and keeping its core focus on buying and selling airplanes and their respective parts and equipment.


Michael chose to retire and sell American Jet Industries to another aviation industry veteran and trusted friend and colleague, Scott Balfanz, owner of Western Aero Services and Western Aero Repair.

Western Aero® completes integration of American Jet Industries.