2023 AMT 40 Under 40 Maintenance Professional: Ryan Shepherd — Chief Executive Officer, Victory Lane Aviation

Aug. 10, 2023

Ryan Shepherd became the CEO of Victory Lane Aviation at age 28.  “There’s a lot of people that would chalk it up to coincidence or the right place at the right time, which has a lot to do with it,” he said. But, in summation, it’s probably more of just God’s plan and not mine. 

Shepherd wanted to be a pilot, then thought about the cost. He wondered if he wanted to be away from home a lot. He turned his focus to aircraft maintenance. “I didn’t know until later on that you travel just as much if not more,” he said. 

Working in the AOG (aircraft on ground), emergency maintenance side, he said, “I think that would probably be singlehandedly what kind of condensed my timeline to where I am today.” 

Before joining Victory Lane Aviation in 2019, the same year he got his pilot’s license, Shepherd worked on aircraft for a variety of charter companies like NetJets and Delta Private Jets, now Wheels Up. 

“Sometimes you work 120 hours in one week,” he said, which means learning a lot faster than if he had worked 40 hours a week. AOG has a lot of not just timeline management and dealing with different manufacturers and logistics and parts, but there’s a lot of teamwork and employee management. It’s almost always a difficult situation because it’s an off-scheduled maintenance plan. Everybody knows what to do when you have a scheduled event and the plane shows up on time and you do the scheduled inspection. But when you’re working through the night to change a component on an aircraft that went down unexpectedly, that’s kind of a different ballgame altogether. 

Shepherd also studied management and has a Bachelor of Science in aviation maintenance and management from Liberty University.  

He has taken Victory Lane Aviation, once a flight school with a small repair shop, and grown the company to include AOG response, aircraft management, aircraft sales, avionics upgrades, flight instruction in multiple locations, pilot services, and MRO services in various locations. He has helped Victory Lane become an authorized service center for Textron, Piper, Epic Aircraft and Icon, to name a few. 

To meet the growing demand of aviation, the company is looking at other strategic locations for possible expansion. “Right now,” he said, “we have customers that fly to us from all over the US just because they don’t have maintenance at their home airport.”