Custom FBO


Sorry to be duplicative if something similar has been posted before, but was chatting with a friend earlier today and came up with the idea for a chain called The Jet Spa, affectionately referred to by GA pilots as TJ’s. Considering things such as ramp service vs. self service, kitchenettes versus small cafeterias, straight shot from front door to ramp vs. small maze, or orange 1970’s shaker furniture versus palms and DEEP soft leather couches. I saw a flight planning room that worked well in that it was round and the leather chairs had wheels. You could be on the phone and rolling between PCs when in a hurry. It was closed off almost as if in a sound proof studio yet had 360 degree glass windows so you could be aware of other activity.

What types of services would you like to see REMOVED entirely from FBOs, fluff or otherwise, and what would you like to see added?


Removed from FBO’s -

WSI - just put up computers with internet access and let us go to town - WSI radar is helpful but getting standard brief is impossible and some FBO’s have nothing else.

Added to FBO’s

Why can’t you all have a courtesy car? You can fuel it for free with sumped 100LL. There has to a beat up Oldsmobile that is worth nothing that you can use that is free.

Topless fuelers in summer. Hi wing, low-wing, the benefits of both!

Wifi that works.

DECENT snacks - stop the cookies and candy and chips - how about a banana, apples, even a couple bags of salad in frig go along way toward staying healthy.


B/C the EPA would kill you. Using “off road” gas in a car would be against federal law.

I used to run an FBO and it killed me how many people in GA would come in and refuse fuel/service, not buy any charts, or even buy from the vending machine and then be upset when you told them a crew car wasn’t available. BTW we did not charge any fees for landing or handling. What was even more surprising is the people who DID buy fuel/services, charts, or pop were willing to PAY to use the courtesy car (or at least give $5.00 for fuel). I guess cheap people are cheap all the way around. Heck i used to get Flexjet and Netjet pilot come in and buy 300 gal of JetA at a time and still offer to pay for the courtesy car (granted they could expense it out).

More internet access would be good; maybe 2 or 3 PC’s that all networked into a printer. A public fax machine and (I agree) working WIFI. After hour sself serve or someone available 24hrs/day. And a lobby/waiting area that is open 24 hours/day just to get out of the rain at 11pm while waiting for PAX. Also a fridge that’s large enough to hold my catering, nothing worse then shrimp that’s been out all day b/c the fridge was full with employee food. (We used to open the pop machine and put large catering item in there). My big thing is having someone on call 24/7. If I have a 0500 departure I want to know my a/c will be out and waiting at 0400. If I arrive at 0200 I want to be able to have the a/c inside by 0230. If all that can be done the tips will be flowing. We also took the time to survey the crews and their companies and found out what we could stock on hand to help out their a/c, so the crews knew they would be able to leave with full stores.

BTW the guys who didn’t buy anything and wanted the crew car were the same people that never said thank you for anything you did for them. It got to a point where we wouldn’t even send out a line person to park them. I could give you tail numbers but I won’t, one of them is here.


who sez you need a crew car that runs on unleaded? There are plenty of mid 70’s cars that once can get for free essentially from or through customers or local junk yards that need about a day’s worth of maintenance to run. Most FBO’s do have mechanics around!

Yeah, like the EPA is gonna be around. Even with a ruined catalytic converter a car running on 100LL will pass most inspections! Give it a try sometime!

As for guys who use the facilities without buying anything, yeah I would be pissed about that myself. But, I always top off everywhere I go if i ANYTHING other than simply park the airplane for a couple hours. Pilots understand there is no free lunch, though sometimes they think there is. A friendly reminder on a form accepting a courtesy car is never improper - I’ve seen them read:

“Thank you for flying into Bob’s FBO. We are glad you in our part of the country. In addition to the usual information we need about your drivers license and other basic information to use our courtesy car, we’d like to remind you that it is not free. It costs money for maintenance, insurance and fuel. Please keep that in mind when deciding on purchasing fuel or pilot supplies from us. Only thorough customer support can we offer a ‘free’ courtesy car. Again, thank you selecting Bob’s FBO.”

You can’t make people do the right thing, thats Character.


I usually try to buy at least 10 gallons wherever I go. However, I was recently charged $5.30 a gallon for fuel in Austin by an FBO that was the main FBO for the prop planes. A few days later I paid $2.00 less per gallon while still in Texas, and the service was better.

Since the other FBO is Signature, I didn’t even bother to check price before hand. I will have to call ahead, or plan around them next time.


The “unwritten” rule WRT loaner/crew cars when I was flying was the same applied to any car one borrowed, it was returned with a full gas tank. I don’t recall any FBO actually stating this rule, it was simply “known” among pilots in particular and most foks in general.

Those who failed to follow this simple rule soon found themselves without the offer of wheels regardless of where they travelled. This grapevine among FBOs was remarkable given the fact that this was long before cell phones and the internet.

I donated James’s old HS beater, fondly referred to as Mr. Jiggly by he and his sister who used it before him, to the museum and it wound up often used as a crew car by visitors who flew in. Lasted for several years even though it had square tires and solid cement shocks.


That’s the way I learned it too…

and the one time I did not fill the car up, I gave the FBO $20 and the looked at me in disbelief as they were not expecting it. (all the better) since I had filled up with fuel. They tried to refuse it, but I insisted that just the availability of the car was worth it and I said I hope it continues to be available.

The reason I didn’t fill it up was that there was not a gas station to be found between the airport and my destination (15 miles one way) and I didn’t want to be hunting down gas in the bad section of town.



Yep no don’t about that. But speaking of the character, AVgas is classified as an “off road” fuel by the EPA. Putting in a car, unleaded or leaded doesn’t make a difference, it’s against the law. (Kinda like speeding, against the law but everyone does it). I agree it will run, in fact I doubt it would do to much the cat. either. Used it all the time in my dad’s show cars, they loved it. Of course that’s before I knew it was a no-no :open_mouth:

BTW where’s the sump fuel coming from? I always through that on the ramp :blush:


I’m pretty sure the lead will ruin a catylitic converter. Before I knew any better I would pump LL into guys’ muscle cars before they headed out to the strip. That’s very illegal, but if they show up with a few cans…well… I’m not sure that’s illegal, my defense would be that they could be bringing the fuel to that grass strip in the next town over for their plane. eh? eh?

I’ve dumped many many gallons of sumped fuel onto the ramp over the years. 100LL evaporates almost instantly when cast into the air a bit when dumping it, but the EPA doesn’t want to hear it. Leardvr, I’m not sure you heard about the fines that ERAU got from the EPA a few years back, they really got screwed.


Oh ya they did, that’s why Avgas in a car or on the ground is very very bad.

…* paraphased from the EPA website*

I used to pull my dad’s cars right up on the ramp and fuel them, of course it was usually at night and the feds only work 9-5. Right?
I think cans would be ok. I mean could be going in a lawn mower, a real souped up lawn mower I bet :smiley:


“… square tires and solid cement shocks.”

:stuck_out_tongue: Hey, if it runs…!!

I’d like to see FBOs offer a small economy level motel on site. :laughing:


It never failed to start…

Sometimes wouldn’t move, like if the brakes were frozen in the wintertime, but it always started.

Like the No-Tell Motel at N14??? James could tell you some tales about the motel client base he dealt with when he and his wife were running OPS at N14.


Love the pool. Only $7 bucks for additional guests, nudge, nudge.


There are a few more of these small hotels, one was in Iowa, and another at Fredericksburg, Texas. Spring Bank (Calgary) has a bed and breakfast on the field, too.


It’s really not that bad anymore, it was terrible when I first started working there in 1999. Bad…really bad. I’ve stayed there on numerous occasions (hangar parties, whoo!).
We did get some very interesting folks looking for hourly rates though. shutter
…as my dear-old-dad would say “God, the things you see when you 'aint got your gun!”


I believe you meant shudder, as in shiver in revulsion.

Although, given your fondness for candid photography (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), perhaps that was the correct word to use after all. :smiling_imp:


I’m a hobby photographer too!! You two certainly are entertaining!!! :smiley: You beat me to the camera comment (giggle). And yeah, I was thinking of something along the lines of that place, although I have to say the plane shaped pool is definitely an original!! Don’t know about the hourly rates though, an hour or two is just not enough time for me to get a good night’s “rest.” :smiling_imp:

The motel should be only for pilots who park, and a guest or their family. An onsite restaurant could make a killing, especially a 24-hr diner. After all, pilots need to be refueled too - food and sleep.


Thank you, thank you. You’ve been a wonderful audience, be sure to tip your waiter or waitress.

We’re available for wakes, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

The airport does have a fairly accomplished restaurant known for their Sunday brunches. And as much as I like to pull James’s leg about the motel, nowadays it’s kept very well and the rooms are clean and well appointed. In fact when my eldest daughter got married it’s where we housed the two grandmothers in attendance as well as providing another room for me to shower and get ready away from the madding horde of women that had descended on my house.

N14 has become very family oriented, especially with the flying camp for teenagers operated by the flight school. James was a camper at the age of 12.


sump fuel comes from when we sump the tanks on the trucks, jet and avgas, it goes to a waste bin since it’s from the bottom of the tank. fricken’ epa screwed alot of smaller FBOs with that law. we use to sell more avgas to race car drivers than aircraft during the racing season. but the bottom line is, if caught you get fined, and worse case lose your fueling permits.


I’d agree with that. My folks owned a car dealership for years, it had a gas tank in the ground that we used to use. About 5 years after they bought it they decided they didn’t need it, so using the EPA standards they sealed the tank. Fastforward 15 years and ground water around the tank is polluted. They sued my parents (who followed the EPA in the 80’s) and GET this sued themselves, yes the EPA sued the EPA. BTW my parents lost in court and had to pay fines and remove the tank and treat the soil, which of course meet 1/2 their parking lot was tore up for 2 months.