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Paragon Aviation Group launches new Android app

The Paragon Aviation Group has launched an app in the Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets.

Paragon launched its iOS app for iPhone and iPad in 2010.

The new Android app features a map and list of locations, giving pilots easy access to member FBO information.

Retail fuel pricing is posted for each location and updated on a weekly basis. Users also have the ability to obtain directions to member FBOs and can call FBOs directly through the location listing.

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comParagon Aviation Group launches new Android app

An old-fashioned fly-in

afternoon nap copy

If you’re looking for an old-fashioned fly-in, the annual Aviation Migration at Lee Bottom Flying Field is the place to go.

With no planned activities other than catered meals, “it’s the most nothing you’ll ever do,” say Rich and Ginger Davidson, co-owners of the expansive grass strip located in a scenic river bottom south of Hanover, Indiana.

“The event is set up like a car show and attendees are encouraged to look at airplanes and talk to the owners as they relax and enjoy the day,” says Rich. “Airplanes are the ice breaker.”

Lee Bottom

Ginger and Rich Davidson

“Campers make the event,” he continued, “and this year the turn-out of campers on Friday night was the best ever. About 30% of the attendees at each fly-in are new to the event and people come from as far away as Florida and Michigan.”

Lee Bottom is a beautifully-manicured 4,100-foot by 100-foot privately-owned, public use airport dating from the 1930s. It runs parallel to the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Lee Bottom

Formerly called the Wood, Fabric and Tailwheels Fly-in, this year’s event, held Sept. 18-20, was rebranded to make it more inclusive and hopefully draw more attendees. However, weather to the north that finally moved in briefly on Saturday afternoon kept attendance below the previous record of more than 400 planes when the weather was favorable.

With 2015 marking its 19th edition, the fly-in has been dogged by bad luck in recent years, with a complete wash-out in 2009, when only one plane made it in. But the worst weather event was when a tornado hit the field in March 2012, causing severe damage to the Davidson’s home and hangar that has still not been fully repaired.

The Davidsons depend on fly-in sponsorships and admissions revenue to support their efforts to preserve the historic field, which they operate as a labor of love. After all, you’ve got to be dedicated to keep 60 acres of grass cultivated and mowed.

“Basically, we open our back yard and invite everyone to visit,” says Rich.

Lee Bottom 2010 - 11

Photo by Paul Newman Sr.

A small group of volunteers called the Lee Bottom Family make the fly-in possible. They even went together to buy a used replacement tractor when the Davidson’s old one swallowed a valve. The volunteers also came to the rescue when a freak downpour in 2005 washed away 4,000 pounds of grass seed that had just been sown on a 1,000-foot runway extension.

A professional pilot who loves to fly antique airplanes on his days off, Rich first landed his Aeronca Champ at Lee Bottom in 1996. He soon started helping the owner, retired military and airline pilot Fritz Hagamann, with maintenance. As a friendship developed, talk turned to the field’s future and Davidson made a deal to start purchasing the property on a time-payment plan.

When Hagamann died in 2000, his will conveyed the balance due as a gift to Rich, who met Ginger at a hangar party soon thereafter. Married in 2003, they make a great team, with Ginger keeping the field running while Rich is away with his flying job.

Lee Bottom

Photo by Tom Snow

Recently hired as a UPS pilot, Rich had to be in a training class through Friday of the fly-in, leaving the bulk of preparations to Ginger, who Rich says does 90% of the work around the field “and never gets enough acknowledgement.”

“I guess Rich figured if I could find the place, I was a keeper,” said Ginger, referring to the one-lane road that leads from Hanover to their remote river bottom airstrip home. “One year, Rich asked me what I wanted for our anniversary, thinking I would say jewelry, but I said I’d rather have a tool box,” she added with a grin.

Lee BottomA computer expert, beekeeper, and accomplished pilot in her own right, Ginger has multiple ratings, including Certified Flight Instructor. Since she owns a Cub and Rich is partial to Champs, this year the couple sponsored a good-natured challenge to see which brand would have the most planes in attendance. The Cub crowd won, but it was a close contest.

Although Lee Bottom Flying Field receives no government support, it is certified as a public use airport and the strip is open for anyone to land at will. Visitors are welcome, but there are currently no public facilities beyond a couple of picnic tables and a basic restroom.

To make Lee Bottom more sustainable, the Davidson’s goal is to make their “antique flying field” a year-round destination, with a museum dedicated to airports and a perhaps a bed-and-breakfast aimed at pilots.

Lee BottomAlso, once a proper facility is constructed, they hope to resume their monthly “Sinful Sundae Fly-ins” during June, July and August, which featured ice cream sundaes and sometimes drew crowds as large as the annual September weekend fly-in.

But, at present, the next planned event is the 2016 edition of the Aviation Migration, which is scheduled for Sept. 16-18 next year.

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Source: http://generalaviationnews.comAn old-fashioned fly-in

Putting customer service back in GA leads to success

Mike Zamora in front of AOPA's Reimagined C-152.

Hendry County, Florida, is situated in the vast no-man’s land just north of the Everglades and west of Lake Okeechobee. Approximately equivalent in size to Rhode Island, the entire county hosts a population of barely 38,000 people.

That being the case, this agricultural wonderland might not be the first place you’d think to find a successful general aviation business. It might even be a location you would run from, having recognized several negatives that might well prevent a GA business from succeeding there.

Yet one GA business has found true success in the wide open spaces of south central Florida, and it continues to thrive there.

There’s a lesson in there for anyone who would care to listen.

Airglades Airport sits in the midst of sugar cane fields that radiate for miles out from the runway. Only 75 feet wide, but nearly 6,000 feet long, the pavement provides a starting point for an aviation-oriented business. But like the ramps and hangars that sit alongside the runway, the infrastructure is not what attracts customers.

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That component of the business requires more creative input. The human element is where the magic happens.

Jason Jacobs understands the need for a high degree of customer service if a GA business hopes to be truly successful. He and his company, Jacobs Flight Services, have broken through the barriers that seem to vex other providers, and they’ve come out on the other side stronger, more resilient and, best of all, with a long line of satisfied customers who sing their praises.

Of course it wasn’t always as it is today. Jacobs started in the depths of the American economic downturn, in 2007. It was a small flight training operation in a very small town, far removed from the glitzy population centers of tourist-rich Florida. Finding a niche wasn’t necessarily easy or obvious. Yet the team persevered and built the business, day by day, customer by customer.

Success hasn’t come quickly, or easily, but it has come nonetheless. Perhaps because the individuals guiding the ship have a vision and a plan for achieving something special by using their unique location as a positive rather than a negative.

A fleet of well-maintained, sharp-looking Cessna 150s line the ramp outside Jacobs’ main hangar. They aren’t new, or sexy, or filled with glass panels or new-fangled gizmos. But they’re dependable. These are essentially interchangeable airplanes. A pilot who flies one can easily transition to another, which makes airplane availability a strength for both the flight school and the students it serves.

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Inside the hangar sits a C-172RG and a Duchess that students can earn their commercial tickets in. Beside them space exists for the company’s turbine and turbo-prop powered aircraft that are available for charter work.

Add to that mix a company that is willing and ready to provide aircraft management services, aircraft rental, tours of the lush Florida landscape from the air, and stocks a selection of common pilot supplies, and you’ve got a company with diversity built into its DNA.

Erkan Ozmeric came to Jacobs from Turkey via Seattle where he was employed by Boeing. His title at Jacobs is International Marketing Consultant, and his success at filling that role is evidenced by the number of foreign students distributed throughout the ramp, hangar, classroom, and the sky above.

In fact, the first person I met after landing was a student who had only arrived for training two days before. He was professional in his demeanor and casual in his style of dress. A perfect fit for south Florida. He spoke English well and directed me to the testing facility, where he introduced me to Erkan and Jason.

As that first interaction suggested, customer service is not a promise at Jacobs Flight Services, it’s the culture they live and work with. It extends even to the students, who are happy to provide directions to a visitor or answer questions of a curious newcomer.

The student population is not entirely foreign, however. Jacobs’ doors are open to anyone who is willing to walk through them. One of their local customers who has done quite well is Mike Zamora. Mike worked in the sugar industry, as many of the locals do. Thanks to the extensive fields of sugar cane that surround it, Clewiston is billed as America’s Sweetest Town. Sugar pays the bills. But Mike wanted to fly. He wanted a career that got his feet out of the dirt, where he could see the world from a higher vantage point.

Mike Zamora in front of AOPA's Reimagined C-152.

Mike Zamora in front of AOPA’s Reimagined C-152.

Zamora came to Jacobs as a student pilot. Today he’s a flight instructor teaching others how control an airplane in flight and make their own dreams come true. Where his path will lead is unclear at this point. Maybe he’ll go to the airlines. Maybe he’ll fly corporate. Or maybe he’ll stay right there in Hendry County living the good life. It doesn’t matter really, because Mike and Erkan, Jason and their students have all benefited from a career in GA that puts customer service front and center in their daily operations.

As Frank Sinatra so melodiously sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” Maybe Clewiston, Florida, and Jacobs Flight Services have a thing or two to teach the rest of us about how to thrive in the GA marketplace.

After visiting their operation and spending time with the folks on the ground there, I’m a believer.

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comPutting customer service back in GA leads to success