At the beginning of the year, South Alabama Regional Airport Co-Director Jed Blackwell said that the new UH-72 Lakota helicopters used by the U.S. Army could mean big bucks for the airport.
On average, the airport supplies between 800,000 and 900,000 gallons of fuel annually to students at Fort Rucker. This year, sales have already surpassed the 430,000 mark.
Fuel sales were 94,686 gallons for February, 74,345 gallons for March, 78,125 gallons for April, 92,950 gallons for May and were approaching 90,000 gallons for June on Tuesday.
“Aviation fuel sales are the lifeblood of our airport,” Blackwell said. “Increased sales from both military and civilian aircraft is a direct impact from our team’s overall efforts.”
Blackwell said that increased sales means more aircraft and more people are visiting the facility than ever before.
“The quickest way to promote our airport is word of mouth,” he said. “Pilots talk to each other and its our hope that they talk positively about our facilities, customer service and food. We don’t want to just be an airport who provides a service to aircraft and settles for being mediocre or average. We want to be the very best that we are capable of being and not settle for anything less.
“Whatever job you do in life, strive to be the very best,” he said. “When aviators think of Covington County, we want them to say that airport does it right, works hard and as a result of their efforts is one of the best general aviation airports in Alabama.”
SARA has seen an increasing amount of fuel sold in the past few years.
In 2015, the airport was concerned about potential cuts at Fort Rucker.
Last July, they received word that the cuts would not be as drastic as was initially reported.
In 2014, they pumped 762,000 gallons and in June 2015 had pumped 675,000 gallons.
The UH-72 has a fuel capacity of 229 gallons and typically refuels 90-140 gallons per stop, he said.
Additionally, the OH58A helicopters have a fuel capacity of 111 gallons and typically refuels 40-50 gallons per time.
Blackwell said the Army has a fleet of 10 and is adding 30 per year through 2019 to have 180 helicopters.
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