Kenny Dichter, co-founder and CEO of Wheels Up (Booth N137), a membership-based private aviation club, predicts a 50% boost in revenue next year and an 80% increase in revenue flight hours. The company has been in operation only for 837 days, "really proving that anything can happen in America."

Dichter attributes Wheels Up's unprecedented growth to lowering the cost of admission to private aviation. Corporate aviation members initially pay $29,500 to join the program for the first year and $14,500 to renew for 12 months. Individual members join for $17,500 and renew for $8,500.

"There are a small percentage of people at the top of the pyramid who can afford a Boeing Business Jet or a Gulfstream. Business aviation currently has only about 50,000 to 60,000 users. We’re opening up the pyramid to a lot more people. We believe we can grow it to 500,000 to a million users." Dichter’s high-profile clients include New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Serena Williams and Caitlyn Jenner.

"Winners fly Wheels Up. This is a service for the working wealthy, more of a utility than a luxury."

Dichter notes that 80% of all business aviation missions are two hours or less. "It makes no sense to fly a Citation X from Morristown [New Jersey] to Nantucket," he says. Typical Wheels Up missions are 700 to 1,000 nm. On average, members fly 10 hours per month and spend about $100,000 per year.

The company uses just two types of business aircraft. Most members use the eight-passenger Beechcraft King air 350i, an aircraft Dichter describes as a flying SUV, a Cadillac Escalade, BMC Yukon or Ford Explorer. Each occupied flight hour costs $3,950.

For longer missions, Wheels Up uses the Cessna Citation XLS+. Gama Aviation, a seasoned air charter firm, operates both types of aircraft on behalf of Wheels Up. All aircraft are being retrofitted with Gogo Biz Text & Talk Wi-Fi / VoIP connectivity systems. "If you don’t have Wi-Fi, you’re going to lose the business," says Dichter. All Wheels Up aircraft will have the system by the end of 2015.

Wheels Up also announced a partnership with AirMed International that will provide "unbelievable wrap-around coverage" for Wheels Up members within the operating footprint of the company’s aircraft.

The company's rapid expansion required a sizable capital infusion in 2015. In September, Wheels Up announced a $115 million capital raise from T. Rowe Price Associates, Fidelity Management & Research Co. and NEA (New Enterprise Associates) that will enable it to acquire up 100 more aircraft.

The firm now is exploring expansion into Europe, with officials noting that the King Air 350i can connect 55 of 57 of the most heavily traveled city pairs. London City to Le Bourget, for instance, is the top city pair for business aviation travelers. That’s a 45-min. flight in the King Air 350i, Dichter notes. Gama Aviation has extensive operating experience in Europe, helping to clear the path for expansion into Europe.

Dichter favors a conservative approach to adding new aircraft to the Wheels Up fleet, learning from the painful experience of fractional private aviation providers’ acquiring too many models. He believes Wheels Up must add one type of super-midsize aircraft and one long-range aircraft, for a total of four models. By 2020, Dichter projects Wheels Up will be a $1 billion to $1.5 billion company, ripe for an IPO.