How does fuel price really influence general aviation? This October, a group of companies will use the Skyport aviation laboratory, in San Marcos, Texas, to find out by selling avgas for $1 a gallon.
“This experiment isn’t about the cost of avgas,” says Jeff Van West, director of Redbird Media, and spokesman for the experiment. “It’s true that we’re selling avgas for $1 per gallon for the entire month of October. But we’re really using fuel price as a catalyst to stimulate activity and generate data. Of course $1 gas will increase flying activity, if by novelty alone. That’s not the point. The core question is: Increase it by how much and for how long? A ten-fold increase says fuel price plays a huge role. A 40% increase? Maybe not so much. And if fuel price isn’t the barrier, what is?”
Integral in the experiment will be data collected on all pilots fueling their aircraft at the Skyport, located at San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI). Van West said the fuel offer is open to any piston aircraft that can fly in and fly out, so long as the pilot participates in the study about how flying choices are made.
Repeat customers may even get follow-up questions to help track changes in flying habits. Van West did add with a grin that, “Pilots arriving in their cars or carrying fuel cans will not be eligible.”
Several big names in aviation are behind this experiment, he noted. Garmin, Aspen Avionics, King Schools, ForeFlight, Bendix King, EAA, GAMA, Jeppesen, Phillips 66, Piper Aircraft, Avemco Insurance, Sennheiser, Hartzell, Bad Elf, and Brown Aviation Leasing have all joined forces to make this happen. The City of San Marcos and some local businesses have also offered support, underscoring how savvy municipalities understand the economic impact of aviation, he said. San Marcos is an alternative destination to the overloaded Austin-Bergstrom airport, especially during major events, like Formula One races. It’s also an alternative airport for traffic to San Antonio.
During October, CEOs and other leaders from partner companies will conduct town meetings at the Skyport to answer pilot questions and hear opinions on the direction of their products and the aviation industry. Pilot opinions on what motivates them to fly will also be part of the data published when the experiment is complete. The latest schedule is available here.
“We chose October for this test to take advantage of the fantastic flying weather in Texas, and give pilots additional incentive to fly to AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, Oct. 10-12, and the Migration Flight Training Conference at Skyport, Oct. 28-30,” says Van West. “When the month is up, we expect to have fresh insight into how fuel price really factors into the many forces affecting how often GA pilots fly.”
Redbird Skyport is a multi-purpose general aviation services center at San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI) that functions as a research and development laboratory. Located between Austin and San Antonio, Redbird Skyport has a flight school, as well as a full-service FBO.
For more information: RedbirdSkyport.com