Lance Paige Toland is a Griffin, GA native and at the age of six lost both parents. He spent several years in foster care before being adopted by an uncle. His love of aviation began early. During a grade school trip to the fair, he diverted from the class and walked over to the Griffin Airport and requested permission to go look at the airplanes tied outside. Several years later, during high school, he took a job washing & servicing airplanes at that same airport.
Working for Robert McSwiggan at the Griffin Airport immersed Lance into the aviation culture of the time. He took his first solo flight at the age of 17 and began applying more than half his earnings to pursue pilot training. Riding along on a test flight from Macon to Griffin, McSwiggan offered Lance the opportunity to copilot a DC3. On landing, having learned the similarities between the large DC3 and the small Cessna, McSwiggan said, “Grab your log book,” as he signed off on Lance’s first dual cross-country flight in a Douglas DC3. For 10 years he plunged into aviation while attending Gordon College, West GA College & Woodrow Wilson College of Law.
Lance competed in sportsman aerobatics while studying law. Recovery from a near fatal crash provided Lance time to think. He decided to approach his mentor McSwiggan about returning to the cockpit. While flying freight solo at night, studying law by day, Lance’s professional experiences converged when McSwiggan approached him with a file of papers. “This is the company’s airplane insurance file,” he said. “You are almost a lawyer and insurance broker. These costs are killing us—look at this on your trip.” McSwiggan’s strong admonition to simply “learn,” prompted Lance to review the documents as directed. Lance discovered that Buckhead, GA was the hub for aviation insurance underwriting.
His experience in insurance made talking with underwriters easy. With an aviation background, many aviation underwriters saw value in an aviation expert coming to them with a new account. After a week or so of deliberations with Atlanta-based underwriters, Lance saved McSwiggan’s company $85K in annual insurance costs on a $265 proposal from the incumbent broker without losing or compromising coverages. A career was launched.
Over the next 35 years, Lance Toland Associates grew to become a respected legacy aviation insurance brokerage. The firm made its mark across the narrow-specialized spectrum of aviation insurance, launching programs for civil / military contractors, Fortune 100 companies & general aviation owner pilots worldwide. Notable clients include John Travolta, Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield and Bob Hoover. In 2017 his largest Corporate Fleet client was based in Moscow.
Toland has bought, sold and leased aircraft all over the world. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, he saw opportunity broke down important trade barriers with the US State department with former East Bloc countries. He was one of the first westerners to fly soviet made military aircraft as well as being the first American to fly the Aero L39 at the factory in Prague and obtain the first letter of authorization to operate as a command pilot. Over the years he bought and sold many military aircraft, at one point he owned the 11th Largest Air Force in the world with over 51 aircraft in his AIR FORCE based at Griffin, GA. Toland holds an Airline Transport Rating with over 17,000 hrs in general aviation aircraft, transports, corporate jets and helicopters.
Eager to encourage future generations of aviators, Lance was a founder Member of the Museum of Aviation as well as the GA Aviation Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Foundation Board of the College of Coastal Georgia, a benefactor of St. George’s School where he donated a 40-acre campus, 64,000 square feet of classrooms & and a gymnasium. He previously served as a Board Member for the Stepping Stones School, which currently enrolls some 200 disadvantaged children with severe learning disabilities.
Lance was asked by Gov Sonny Perdue to serve on the Aviation Task Force that evaluated GA aviation infrastructure, including aircraft fleets and aviation trade schools. He was instrumental in applying aviation risk management recommendations that have saved GA millions of taxpayer dollars and in supporting the Eastman GA Aviation Trade School that has evolved into the School of Aviation at Middle Georgia State University.
With a lifelong passion for aviation, owning and operating aircraft over the last 50 years, an illustrious professional career, three aerospace patents, an award winning Documentary and a commitment to service of others, Lance has inspired future aviators and helped pave a safe and bright future for Georgia aerospace.