SAN MARCOS, Texas — The $1 a gallon avgas experiment at Redbird Skyport at San Marcos Airport will end Oct. 15, not Oct. 31 as originally planned. That’s because demand for the discounted fuel far exceeded projections.
“In preparing for this experiment, we planned for traffic averaging eight times normal,” said Jeff Van West, Skyport spokesman. “Actual response has been four times higher than 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 usually pumps about 4,000 gallons of 100LL in a month. It’s projected that by Oct. 15 it 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 Fort Worth, and the halfway point of the month.
In addition, Redbird Skyport will be fueling aircraft used to attend the Redbird Migration Flight Training and Design Conference at the end of the month for a $1 per gallon, noted Jerry Jerry Gregoire, chairman of Redbird Flight Simulations and the force behind the Redbird Skyport.
“At that conference, we will be sharing the amazing amount of preliminary survey data we are collecting and, I have to say, it’s fascinating,” he said. “So far, about 30% of the aircraft have come from outside Texas — including California and the East Coast. About 30% have been piston twins. Even though the experiment has only been running a week, about 20% are repeat visitors. The most common visitors have been pilots with over 4,000 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,” Van West added, “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.”