Boutique takes last flight
May 3, 2020
CLOVIS - Kent Pearson strolled into Clovis Municipal Airport on Thursday afternoon, then checked in, dropped off his rental car key and checked his bag like he's done at countless other airports.
Then he was told to help himself to the front counter spread with sodas, a meat and cheese tray and dozens of cupcakes creating the Boutique Air logo with a border of vanilla and chocolate.
Unaware of what he'd stumbled into, he asked himself, "Is this how they treat EVERY passenger?"
Nope, just impeccable timing by Pearson. His first Clovis-to-Dallas flight via Boutique was also the air carrier's last.
The food and drink was part of an informal reception to mark Boutique's run of just under six years in Clovis and Stacy Evans' last flight with the company after five years to the day.
Essential Air Service resumed Friday in Clovis through Denver Air Connections, a not-so-subtle clue Dallas is no longer the connecting hub.
And that is why Pearson's timing was so fortunate. He installs X-ray machines for food plants, and touched down in Amarillo a few days ago for work in Portales and other cities a rental car drive away. However, he hadn't planned the return trip.
"I couldn't get a flight out of Amarillo or Lubbock at a decent time, or any time," Pearson said, "so I sprang for this."
He was soon joined on Boutique's King Air 350 by another more veteran Boutique passenger and members of the crew, who were flying back to Dallas with their Clovis work done.
"We hopefully can cross paths again," said Boutique Regional Manager Teresa Mesman, who stayed behind to wrap up some loose ends, "and we'll meet again."
Boutique would have preferred to remain in Clovis, but it certainly leaves as a more accomplished carrier than when it arrived in mid-2014. The San Francisco-based regional first eyed Clovis as its foot in the door of the EAS community, and now serves more than 30 destinations in 17 states.
Evans, who has nearly 30 years of various flying experience and is moving on to private flying, has been there for much of Boutique's journey. He's logged millions of miles with the same daily prayer - "don't make the news." This story marks his second such failure to avoid the spotlight; the other came when he was the first pilot to fly out of Tyler, Texas, after 9/11.
The pilot life on a route like CVN-DFW meant being in Clovis briefly in the afternoon between flights and too late in the evening to do much beyond visiting a local restaurant and retiring to the pilot house near Colonial Park Golf Course. It was on the flights where Evans made his best Clovis memories with passengers he'd often come to know on a first-name basis.
There was the near heart attack when he couldn't find the kid who flew back and forth for years with a parent in each city. The boy decided, with Capt. Evans waiting to do the unaccompanied minor paperwork, that would be a good time for an unannounced hide-and-seek game in the plane.
His worst days with Boutique? Probably those times where one of the flights is passenger-free, an inevitability at some point given the smaller populations the federally subsidized EAS serves.
"We don't feel good on those days," Evans said. "We like getting people where they need to go."
Boutique flew a total 13,308 flights on its Clovis route, ending with Flight No. 455 on Thursday.