UCM alumnus launches multi-million dollar airline

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Kristin Gallagher (Business Manager)

While the airline is only a small piece in the giant picture of Wade Eyerly’s life, it is something he said he loves to do. (Photo submitted)

One UCM alumnus is taking his name to the sky.
Wade Eyerly, a 2002 graduate, launched an all-you-can-fly airline, Surf Air, earlier this year in Los Angeles.
The membership-based airline is based on a flat subscription of $1,000 a month, allowing frequent flyers to travel as many times as they want to a set list of popular destinations, the first of which include Palo Alto, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
“The demand for airline services will double in the next two years,” Eyerly said. “But people still hate flying. So we wanted to fix what was broken.”
Eyerly describes his company as just a normal airline, but the numbers beg to differ.
While Surf-Air’s first flight won’t take off until later this year, the company sold out of memberships in merely two weeks, and now has a wait-list of 1,700 people.
“I think at first, people were skeptical,” Eyerly said. “But then we raised four million dollars from guys with billions in their pockets. I think we are starting to win over the doubters.”
Booming airline aside, Eyerly displays a history of success. He graduated high school at the age of 16, skipping both second and third grade, and set off to college from his home in Kansas City. “When we moved here, I only spent one semester at my high school in Raytown,” he said, “ I literally had no idea you had to apply to college.”
So Eyerly went to UCM looking to register with no prior enrollment and no acceptance letter. “It was the kindness of that registrar that got me in to UCM that day,” Eyerly said.
While at UCM, Eyerly majored in international economic policy and cross cultural language.
“I learned I had to be a sophomore to move into the frat house,” he said. “So I took 24 credits my first semester and moved in.” And in his time at the university, Eyerly said that Dr. Bax had the most influence on his success. “Dr. Bax made me look beyond the confines of the little world I could see,” he said. “It was a very powerful class.”
After graduating from UCM, Eyerly moved to Washington D.C. and wrote a political column. While there, he also worked on two presidential campaigns for Vice President Dick Cheney.
He went to graduate school in Utah where he worked on international trade with Gov. Huntsman, and did some finance consulting in East Africa.
After graduating, he took a job in D.C. at an intelligence agency where he served as a senior business consultant and spent four years as an intelligence officer with the Department of Defense.
From 2009 to 2010, Eyerly spent his time serving in Iraq, and earned the Secretary of Defense’s medal for the Global War on Terror, as well as the Civilian Joint Service Commendation.
Two weeks after returning, his wife had a baby and the family settled down. “I have never been on a good career path,” he said. “ I just did what sounded fun.”
After all of his expenditures, Eyerly sat down with his brother, commercial pilot and co-founder of Surf-Air, and for six years they looked for models until they found something they liked. “We found what we thought would work,” Eyerly said. “And we got excited.”
For a monthly fee, passengers may travel as many times as they want to a set list of popular destinations. (Photo submitted)

And so Surf-Air was created, and has raised quite the uproar. “We started four months ago and now we are a million-dollar-company,” Eyerly said. “ We have 15 employees now, and will hire 30 more in August. Give us four or five years, and you will really see us grow.”
While the airline is only a small piece in the giant picture of Wade Eyerly’s life, it is something he loves to do.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to do this,” he said. “But I knew I wanted my own company. I wanted to provide jobs for people.”  And for doing that, he is very proud.
“I could spend the next 10 to 20 years of my life doing this,” he said. “ If you can’t spend all day playing with your kid, this sure is a good way to spend your time.”
The company sold out of membership in merely two weeks, and now has a wait-list of 1,700 people. (Photo submitted)