As a general aviation enthusiast and private pilot local to Okeechobee, I have a desire to see our airport and aviation community thrive. It's important to note that lower fuel prices are a significant driver of the aviation community in terms of planning flights. Pilots will make a quick fuel stop at an airport with nothing else to offer if the fuel prices are lower, they would often take advantage of available services restaurants and pilot shops if these were available. A good way to stem growth in these types of businesses at an airport is to be mindful of fuel prices. Lower fuel prices will increase traffic to an airport and with that comes customers for the businesses at the airport. Another way to increase fuel sales and activity would be to have a flight school and/or aircraft rental however the Okeechobee County Airport doesn't have hangar space or a place for a school to work out of and therefore is unattractive for that purpose. Being a pilot controlled airport surrounded by lots of practice areas where students can practice maneuvers and having controlled airports within a 20-minute flight from Okeechobee, our airport is a popular touch and go option as well as stop-off for cross country flights, but rarely gets to take advantage of the other benefits of flight training, such as maintenance services, fuel purchases, hangar and training space leasing etc. since none of the schools are based here. Our airport gets the wear and tear without the benefits of having these operations active on our field. We need to look at a holistic approach to growing our airport and allowing it to be a player in the tourism plans of our community as well. I know of several local pilots who store their airplanes in Sebring, Fort Pierce, and at North County because there is no available hangar space. Those airports enjoy the benefit of the added revenue and the pilots have to drive an hour one way to use their airplanes so as to not have them deteriorate unnecessarily. Our airport would attract aircraft rental options with lower fuel prices and A&P Mechanic services available, but these services rely on having more aircraft based at the airport. I may not be telling you anything you don't already know but hope that these issues will be a forefront in your planning and decision-making. Thanks for your consideration and keeping general aviation and our county close to heart!
Posted by Billy McCullers 3 days ago