Free coffee. Great service. A friendly atmosphere. Reasonable prices. These are the ingredients for a great FBO, and that’s just what Heritage Aviation at the Penn Valley Airport in Selinsgrove, Pa., offers. Helping to save the airport—that’s just a great added benefit.
The story is like so many that often end badly. The airport authority was more than $650,000 in debt, and the airport was on the verge of closing. The runway was in disrepair, the hangars were falling apart, and the equipment to mow and remove snow was broken. That’s when Heritage Aviation stepped in.
The authority agreed to allow Heritage to support the airport and run the FBO. In six short months, the new FBO has repaired the ramp, fixed the lighting, installed electric and lighting in the hangars, built a new pilot lounge, built a new conference room and flight school, purchased a new tractor for mowing and snow plowing, purchased a crew van, added wireless Internet, and much more. Even better, they have been able to reduce the debt to $250,000 through a combination of donors and agreements with the debtors.
Heritage’s Jim Taylor said, “We pride ourselves on service. I know everyone says that, but I mean good old-fashioned service with a smile.”
And if comments on the various aviation Web sites are any indication, Taylor means it. Pilots who have stopped in have given Heritage glowing remarks for service, probably because Taylor parks every airplane that comes in, helps with transportation and local advice, and even cleans windscreens after refueling.
Taylor says with a little more help, they’ll erase the debt. When they do, Penn Valley will have been transformed from an airport on the road to closure, to an example of how community airports around the country can thrive, given the right attitude.