Get to Know Vine Jet

Private jet hangar space in Sonoma County, California

In 2011, having outgrown our Napa facility, Vine Jet began building a fist-class hangar facility for high-end aircraft. The result is a classic mix of form and function. Vine Jet isn’t a busy FBO, it’s a calm and relaxed environment for you and your jet. We have first-rate office, meeting and passenger lounge space, along with a spacious hangar. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for with Vine Jet.

Meet our Highly Experienced Staff

Phil Gattuso, CEO & Chief Pilot

Phil Gattuso has been a professional pilot since 1990 and holds the FAA’s Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with 15,000 of accident free flight hours to his credit.

He is Type rated in Lear Jet, Westwind, Falcon 50/900 and Gulfstream II/III/IV/V and is passionate about flying Corporate Jets as well as Vintage Warbirds. In addition to his experience in multiple corporate jets, Phil has extensive flight time in Stinson L5, Marchetti SF 260, Grumman Albatross, T-28, T-6, P-51, A-26 and various other vintage aircraft.

Phil is also a mechanic and holds the FAA rating on A/P (Airframe & Power plant).

Phil’s professional flying career started in 1992 flying a Cessna 172 reporting traffic conditions along the 101 corridor for KZST, KJZY and KGO radio under the moniker of “Captain Phil.” He then went on to fly Lear Jets and Gulfstream’s for Clay Lacy Aviation from 1997-1999. Moving back to Northern California as chief pilot for Francis Coppola flying a Westwind II in1999. In 2002, Phil took the position of line captain for SK Aviation/Vine Jet on their Falcon 50 and he took over as Chief Pilot in 2008.

Phil is married and lives in Healdsburg California with his wife Gina who he met in 1985 and they have two boys, Alex and Clay and a grand daughter Penelope.

Phil has been at the Santa Rosa airport almost every day since he showed up there as a volunteer back in 1989. If he is not on a trip, you will usually find him at the Vine Jet hangar during the week and on most Saturdays, at his personal hangar working or flying on one of his vintage airplanes.

Steve Penning, COO & Director of Maintenance

Steve has worked full time in the aviation industry for nearly 40 years, having worked as a professional pilot, a mechanic and a business owner.

Steve holds an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics certificate with Inspection Authorization (IA). He also has an ATP pilot’s certificate with type ratings in the following aircraft: Douglas DC-4, Lockheed L-18, Grumman G-III, North American B-25, Convair CV-240, CV-340, CV-440, G-II and G-III (G-1159A). He also has an “All Types” endorsement for high performance single and multi-engine experimental aircraft with experimental type ratings in the North American P-51, Hawker Sea Fury, North American T-28, BAC jet Provost and BAC Strikemaster. Steve was a FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) for 10 years with the Van Nuys FAA Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO).

Steve started his aviation career at age 17 at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa working on and flying warbirds. He spent a few years working on GA aircraft earning his A&P certificate in the early 1980’s. His first flying job was towing gliders in PA-25 Pawnee’s. Next was 4 years flying DC-4, DC-6 and P2V-7’s fighting fires. He thought he wanted to be an airline pilot so he flew for American Eagle flying SA-227 Metroliners for 2 years. In 1992, Steve and a friend started Aerocrafters, Inc., specializing in the restoration of warbird and vintage aircraft with an FAA certified repair station for avionics. Aerocrafters evolved into Sonoma Jet Center in 2004 and became a full service FBO at the Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. Presently, Steve is the COO of Vine Jet and still acts as the DOM (Director of maintenance) as well. Steve also fills in as a back up pilot for the Part 91 operations in the G-III, G-IV and Challenger 601.

Steve has been happily married to Lori since 1991 they have one son, Sam who is currently playing College Baseball, Steve and Lori live in Windsor California.

Steve’s hobbies include coaching/managing youth baseball, wood working, aircraft restoration, antique cars and traveling with the family.


Gary Nelson, Captain

Gary Nelson grew up in Marin County and was able to fulfill his early ambition to fly in the United States Air Force. After pilot training, he flew large transports to destinations around the world.

He has flown for major airlines as well as numerous corporate aircraft. He has over 20,000 hours of experience and is currently a Captain on a Vinejet managed Falcon 50.

When not flying he enjoys working on his vineyard and playing men’s senior baseball.


Karen Cornwell, Director of In-flight Services

Karen has gained all of her training, experience and love for aviation while working with the Vine Jet team. Having quickly been promoted to Director of In-Flight Services, Karen is delighted to dedicate her substantial professional experience in hospitality and communication to Vine Jet and its guests.

An extensive background in domestic and international flight services, a vast knowledge of food and wine, and a sincere dedication to creating a personalized experience for each guest sets Karen apart as a corporate flight attendant. Karen is dedicated to providing the highest level of service and safety, and strives to add those special touches that make flying with Vine Jet unforgettable. Karen has had safety training at CAPS and Flight Safety, and culinary and service training in Napa, Sonoma and San Francisco. Above all Karen enjoys what she does, the people she works for and with, and it shows in every detail of her work from the communication before the trip, to the personalized service while flying with Vine Jet.

Prior to aviation Karen had a long career in wine and hospitality, and continues to teach Speech and Communication at the College level. When not flying or working for Vine Jet on the ground, Karen enjoys time with her two sons Declan and Collin, being with her family in the bay area, and playing with friends in her home of Healdsburg in the Sonoma County wine country.

Stephanie Johnson, Contract Cabin Hostess

Stephanie was born in San Francisco and raised in Sonoma County. She started her culinary arts and hospitality career at 19 years old, working at a family run Italian deli & ristorante in Petaluma, called, La Famiglia. She learned how to make homemade gnocchi, ravioli’s, and many other Italian favorites during the day, then came back to serve tables in the evening. She found a love for creating memorable food & providing personalized service in the fast-paced environment. She completed her AA in Culinary Arts at Santa Rosa Junior College and continued to work in food service in and around Sonoma County, including, baking desserts, prepping for sushi chefs, and working catering events. She eventually started Her own small-scale catering and baking company, specializing in box lunches for business meetings.

Stephanie’s love for travel started as a child when she would fly solo to meet her grandparents. She recalls being fascinated by the glamour of the Flight Attendants, the Pilots, and the aircrafts. By the age of 18, she traveled independently in NYC, traveled Europe with her best friends, and at 24, she and her fiancé traveled around South East Asia for 6 weeks on a surfing and sightseeing trip.

In 2014, She found an opportunity in aviation as a corporate Flight Attendant that fit her love of travel and her hospitality background into the perfect package. Stephanie continues to fly with a corporate airline that emphasizes in safety procedures and protocol. She attends recurrent training in FAA regulations, Emergency Procedures Training, CPR/AED/First Aid Certification yearly. She is certified in Gulfstream G500/550 Evacuation Crewmember requirements and Corporate Specific Inflight Service Training. She loves working as a team on Boeing 737’s, flying Bay Area Athletic teams and several Musical Tours on over 500 flights in her career.

She longed for a personal, more intricate experience of working for business jets. She found a home at Vine Jet in 2018 and has completely thrived in the environment of catering to a smaller group of guests on the Gulfstream IV. She is able to give personalized service, curate menu planning and overseeing catering connections throughout the US, Canada and Internationally. She has successfully completed International trips, including, Ireland, Scotland, Europe (Prague, Budapest, Vienna), Canada, British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas and The West Indies. Stephanie prides herself on communicating effectively prior to a trips departure and thinking outside the box to make sure every inflight detail is met.

Her favorite part of traveling for work is coming home to beautiful Sonoma County. She loves spending my time outside. She hikes with her dog, enjoys paddle boarding during summer on the Russian River and practicing yoga. In winter, she likes to snowboard in Tahoe. She loves to camp in the Redwoods with her vintage trailer with her husband Forrest, and her two daughters, Loretta who is 14, and Odessa who is 11.

Stephanie Johnson

Bruce Etchell, Mechanic/First Officer

BruceBruce has over 40 years experience in aviation. Born in Santa Rosa, Bruce’s interest in aviation piqued because of his father’s aviation hobby. Bruce started taking flight lessons at the Healdsburg Airport at the age of 15. He worked 10 years at SIS-Q Flying Service as a mechanic working on DC-6 and S2F fire bombers, C-402 Pilot and as a DC-6 Pilot fighting fires.

In 1990, he began working for United Airlines where he was a mechanic for 25 years. Bruce holds a Commercial pilots certificate with single and multi-engine instrument rating. He is type rated in the BAC Jet Strikemaster, Supermarine Spitfire and holds SIC type ratings in the Challenger 601 and Gulfstream G-IV. He also has been a certified A&P mechanic with Inspection Authorization for over 35 years. Vine jet was able to recruit Bruce to the team in 2015. Even during his free time Bruce likes to restore and fly older planes. Bruce and his brother Dave own and are restoring a WWII FG-1D Corsair.

Bruce is married to Kathy and the two of them enjoy adventures together like mountain climbing, scuba diving and traveling. Bruce has 2 stepchildren, 5 grandchildren and has lived in Healdsburg since 1988.

Kent Long, Mechanic

KentKent started his aviation carrier at the age of 13 working for his father at an FBO in southwest Kansas. Kent has worked as a diesel mechanic on over the road trucks and while attending Colorado Aero Tech in Broomfield Colorado to earn an A&P certificate in 1988. Kent went to work for United Airlines in 1989 in San Francisco and spent the next 28 years working all the different aircraft in United’s fleet. After retiring from United Airlines Kent came to Vine Jet October 1, 2016. Kent became a privet pilot in 1995 and continues to enjoy flying and working on all sorts of aircraft.

Alex Barton, Line Service Manager

AlexAlex was born and raised in Sonoma county. He is an avid participant in physical activities including wakeboarding, weightlifting, skiing, and races. He is currently studying at the Santa Rosa Jr. College in general education. Alex is very interested in the business side of the private aviation world and all the careers and possibilities that it offers.

Nadia Wilke, Contract Cabin Hostess

NadiaNadia Wilke was born and raised in Northern California. She is beginning her second year of college, attending Santa Rosa Junior College. Nadia grew up around small aircrafts, flying with her dad in his Cessna 206, and Husky Amphib. Nadia has always enjoyed international travel, including a summer trip to Europe as a student ambassador and a semester abroad in New Zealand. She also enjoys scuba diving, snowboarding, living an active lifestyle, and is an avid foodie. Nadia is enthusiastic about the unique experience of becoming a member of the Vine Jet team.

Jered Hinton, Line Service


Tom Whitmore, Line Service


Eric Kamau, Line Service


Ken Mumford, Retired Director of Safety & Captain

After a 40 year career, Ken decided to retire at the end of August 2020.

Ken started his career in Hawaii his ultimate goal has always been to reside in the Islands once again. Though Ken is no longer a full-time pilot with Vine Jet, he will continue to fly as a contract captain from his new home in Oahu HI.

We at Vine Jet are proud to say that Ken spent the end of an immaculate career with us at Vine Jet and we wish him nothing but the best.

Thank you for all of the years of great service Ken and Aloha.

Gary Krambs, Retired Challenger Captain

After a career that spanned decades, Gary made the decision to retire at the end of 2019. Gary did a great job with us and we will all miss him flying full time with us at Vine Jet. It is a rarity for a pilot to spend their entire career flying out of the same airport and everyone here at KSTS knows where Gary started and finished his career.

In his early days as flight instructor, Gary helped to shape many young pilots into professional aviators and Gary has successfully managed flight departments here in Santa Rosa over the years and we were lucky to have him as a Captain until his retirement.

Gary comes by the hangar regularly and the door is always open in the event that he wanted to start flying professionally again.

Thank you for all that you did for us Gary, it was a pleasure having you as a Vine Jet team member and we wish you the best in your retirement.