When I received this link to an article about “Refurbishing A Fuel Truck” by EAA Chapter 725 over at Grants Pass Airport (3S8) in Oregon, my immediate reaction was: “There’s an untold story here.” My curiosity was primary piqued because the story implies that Grants Pass Airport was now providing commercial mogas service for aviation from a truck through the auspices of the EAA.
This was truly bizarre on a number of levels. First, an EAA chapter is a non-profit; they would have to create another corporate entity to sell fuel.
Second, practically nobody sells fuel from a truck only. There are a lot of folks who want to do it, but all of the projects I know about have fallen through, for any number of reasons, most having to do with government bureaucracies.
Third, it is cumbersome to only sell fuel from a truck. It means full-serve in this day of self-service, 24/7 operation.
So, I figured this was just another group of self-interested individuals that had found a way to make mogas available for local use of a privileged few.
Ironically, I’d just tracked down a tip about mogas being “available” at Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania (KLNS). Turned out that an FBO that isn’t even listed on AirNav was providing mogas for its own LSA operation but would not sell to transient aircraft.
Wanting to verify the story, I called the president of EAA Chapter 725. Like all of the EAA chapter presidents I know, he was friendly and helpful and explained that the chapter had only provided muscle and mechanical know-how to assist in the refurbishing the well used fuel truck.
But he did verify that the truck was indeed in commercial operation, selling mogas on the airport to transients as well as locals. Thus, the number of airports in Oregon with mogas available had indeed doubled. (The other airport is Lebanon State Airport (S30) in Lebanon) And when I looked up Grants Pass Airport on AirNav, there was a listing for mogas availability at the FBO, Pacific Aviation Northwest.
Now, I was extremely interested in how Pacific Aviation had done what no one else I know had been able to accomplish. I wanted to know the gritty details so others could possibly follow in their footsteps.
A call to Pacific Aviation was enlightening. They didn’t have anything to do with the project. They just oversee fuel sales on the airport. The very pleasant and helpful receptionist told me I needed to talk to the airport manager, Larry Graves, to find out how the project transpired.
So, I put in a call to Larry Graves, airport manager extraordinaire. His phone number is listed right there on AirNav. He wasn’t in. I wasn’t surprised. I left a message at about 3 p.m. and figured I’d be lucky if he ever called back, but I would wait a day before I called him back. My phone rang at about 5:30 p.m. with Josephine County in the caller ID. (Grants Pass Airport is in Josephine County, Ore.)
I’ve got to say, Larry Graves is one of the most amazing airport managers I’ve ever run into. The only other one is Larry Knox at Lebanon State, the other airport that sells mogas. Hmm, I wonder if there is some cosmic convergence that airports in Oregon have to have managers named Larry in order to install mogas fuel service? If so, I fear Oregon may have maxed out on mogas airports. And maybe this explains why so few airports install mogas service.
Larry is that rare government employee that has a can-do attitude when he sets his mind to solving a problem. I’ll just summarize what I learned, in the hopes the staff at General Aviation News will do an in-depth interview of Larry and the project that resulted in a valuable fuel service being added at Grants Pass Airport — especially considering that GAN is doing a Future Of Fuels spotlight in November.
Some of the information about the project is summarized in the EAA article. A very used fuel tanker was purchased for next to nothing. Using a lot of volunteer hours, and county expertise in truck maintenance plus additional funds, the truck was refurbished completely and brought up to standards and it passed Fire Marshall inspection and the flow meter was sealed by the Oregon Division of Weights and Measures making it legal for commercial operation.
Granted there are a myriad of other details, but the fact is that Larry shepherded a project through all of the bureaucratic hoops and Grants Pass Airport and Oregon GA are benefiting from his zeal.
Larry reiterated about the number of times he was told it can’t be done. Now that we know it can be done, that’s one less excuse why it can’t.
Perhaps the key to getting it done is the attitude of your airport manager. Just wish there were more airport managers like Larry.