With more than 36 years of experience in the general aviation industry, Vail's interest in aviation started in his early 20s, when several friends earned their private pilot's license. During that time, he became good friends with an airplane and helicopter pilot who purchased a small avionics shop in Bloomington, Illinois.
Prior to his life in aviation, Vail worked for six years in restaurant management. He left the profession and moved to Bloomington in 1980 to manage Bloomington Avionics. Then in January 2012, Vail moved to Flightstar in Savoy, Illinois.
Founded in 1978, Flightstar is an aviation service organization located at the University of Illinois-Willard Airport. With more than 100,000 square feet of office and hangar space, the company offers a wide range of services, including a full-service FBO, airline and MRO; avionics sales with installation and repair; and worldwide executive jet charter with full aircraft management services.
An active member in the AEA, Vail served on the association's Strategic Planning Committee before being elected to the board of directors in 2005. In addition, he served as chairman of the Government Affairs and Regulatory Committee, and he spearheaded the AEA's Ambassador Program to promote better communications between member companies and the FAA's Flight Standards District Offices.
A former vice chairman of the AEA board of directors, Vail was elected chairman in 2010 and served in that role until 2013. An industry veteran, Vail has served on a number of advisory boards for various manufacturers, and he is a licensed single-engine pilot with instrument endorsement.