Overwhelming response met goals three weeks ahead of schedule, but supply can’t meet demand
“In preparing for this experiment, we planned for traffic averaging eight times normal,” said Jeff Van West, spokesman for the Skyport experiment to sell avgas for one dollar during October. “Actual response has been four times higher that that—over 30 times our normal volume. By the end of the first week, we’d reached our data collection goal for the entire month.”
Van West said that the response has been so overwhelming, however, that simply meeting the demand for fuel has become unmanageable. “We have three trucks running full time and wait times might still approach two hours, and we can’t get fuel delivered fast enough to guarantee we don’t run out,” he said. “Not to mention conditions for our staff; they’re icing their joints through the day due to the unrelenting workload.” Redbird Skyport, in San Marcos, Texas, usually pumps about 4000 gallons of 100LL in a month. It’s projected that by October 15 they will have pumped over 90,000 gallons. Van West said that continuing at that rate for the entire month is “physically and economically unviable,” but that the Skyport is committed to handling the demand through AOPA Summit in nearby Fort Worth, and the halfway point of the month.
Preliminary survey data sheds some light on the amazing response. About 30 percent of the aircraft came from outside Texas—including California and the East Coast. About 30 percent have been piston twins. Even though the experiment has only been running a week, about 20 percent are repeat visitors. The most common visitors have been pilots with over 4000 hours and an instrument rating who own their aircraft. This is far off the norm for GA, and could reveal telling insights when combined with other data. “We regret having to make any changes to the plan. But our goal was both data collection and stirring an infusion of activity in the GA community. On both those counts, we’ve already succeeded several times over even our boldest projections. So we view the experiment as a success.”