FBOs, Westward Flight, Summer 2010

Our tenth flight across the country brought us to the follow Fixed Base Operators, so I reviewed them for the Airnav web site. Eastward FBOs were already reviewed, and I also wrote reviews for our Spring Break 2009, and 2007 trips. Airnav really needs to get it together to make the data available on a portable device (like an iPhone or iPad), so pilots can plan where to land (and where to park) when we were aloft.

KIPT: Williamsport, Pennsylvania – Degol Jet Center
Even though it was a Saturday evening, our lineman was cheerful and helpful. While he fueled another plane that had arrived he had no problem with our young boys stretching their legs in the air conditioned lounge. Prompt, knowledgable service and a friendly wave as we fired back up.

KCRW: Charleston, West Virginia – Executive Air Terminal
One of the very few places we have stopped crossing the country where we felt we were not wanted. The lineman was prompt on landing, but invisible the next morning. The woman at the desk in the morning was cheerful enough, although not very communicative, but the one in the evening really made it seem as if we were interrupting her personal time. We arrived in the evening ahead of a huge thunderstorm with two little boys. There was really the least effort made to help us get a hotel room, direct us to where to wait for the hotel shuttle, offer us a ride down to town… nothing. We will press on the next time we are in the area.

KCPS: St. Louis, Illinois – Jet Aviation
St. Louis happened to be at the edge of our range crossing the country, so we stopped to see the Arch. Jet Aviation’s staff was very helpful, talked us through the provided map, gave us a crew car, warned us that there was a Cardinals game going on, so to avoid the ballpark if we could. On return the plane was fueled and ready to go. The rest room (fifteen minute nap before continuing) was very comfortable and quiet. They are building a new facility, but the current facility was one of the nicer I have been in.

KICT: Wichita, Kansas – Yingling Aviation
There’s nothing more to say. This is consistently voted the number one FBO in the country and there’s a good reason why. We taxied in at 9pm and two lineman came jogging out. They marshaled us (a piston single) to the spot right in front of the door. This was appreciated by the two little boys on board who needed the restrooms. The woman at the desk was very helpful with hotel suggestions, going through the book with my wife while I dealt with the plane. They ran us over in their van. In the morning the plane was fueled and as close to the door as it could get without blocking an arriving plane. Added bonus: a hangar full of Skycatchers being assembled. If we are within range, we will always stop at Yingling.

KLVS: Las Vegas, New Mexico – Las Vegas Municipal Airport
Much more than we expected for a tiny dot in the middle of the desert. A rough little airport that the National Guard (and others) use for approach practice, but the staff (John, I think) could not have been friendlier. Topped the plane off before we had even made it inside to the AC. The place is kept neat and clean and everything was in working order. I’ve been in much worse and paid much more for gas. After some of the comments posted on Airnav, this was a relief.

KABQ: Albuquerque, New Mexico – Atlantic Aviation
The last time we had stopped at ABQ we got home and there was a postcard from Atlantic saying, “Next time, try us!” So we did. Their facility is nice and clean. They didn’t have a crew car available (it sounds like they have only one), but their van driver was very friendly and dropped us at the Nuclear Science Museum fifteen minutes away, and then collected us when we were ready. The ramp is actually in better shape than other places on the field, which was a nice change.

KDVT: Deer Valley, Arizona – Cutter Aviation
Once again Cutter provided an invaluable rest stop on our way across the country. Being the last stop before home, their friendly service and response to the needs of our little family were very appreciated. We wanted half an hour of rest with some pie and ice cream, so they pointed us out the door to the nearby restaurant on the field. Even in 100+ degree heat it was a tolerable walk. The plane was ready to go when we returned. There is a LOT of flight training at the airport, so keep your head on a swivel as you approach.

KVNY: Van Nuys, California – Sky Trails
We were diverted from KSMO to KVNY because of the Presidential TFR. Needless to say, we arrived without warning. I had used Sky Trails before (when I needed to divert for weather), so taxied down. It looked deserted, no planes on the ramp, few lights on. We were so happy when there were people inside. Helpful friendly people! They had a taxi waiting to take us home even before we had all the bags out of the plane. The next morning when I returned to collect the plane their waived the overnight fee with a top off (which I needed). When I asked why it was so empty they admitted that they were part of MacGuire Aviation, so next time I will use that ramp (which is a lot less remote and has a nicer lounge). I am not sure why they keep Sky Trails running, but they were certainly nice to us that evening.

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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