Founder and largest shareholder, Jerry Gregoire, to focus full-time on design and strategy.
Austin, TX (October 11, 2013) – “Soon after starting Redbird Flight Simulations eight years ago, we realized that achieving our vision would take us far beyond engineering simulators and software development,” said Redbird Flight Simulation’s CEO Todd Willinger. “That’s why we’re thrilled to announce Craig Fuller as the new Chairman of the Board while our founder, Jerry Gregoire, will focus on expansion strategies, research, and new product development. This addition to our leadership team is exactly what we need to continue and manage our rapid growth.”
Jerry Gregoire explained, “For those of us in love with the technology, success is a kind of a trap. The more success you have, the bigger your company gets, the less time you have to touch the technology. To succeed in this environment, we need to constantly recruit top-flight leaders with experience and skills beyond the strictly technical. Craig’s combination of aviation and business savvy makes him the ideal choice to insure our continued success.”
Craig Fuller added: “No one individual has done more innovative work introducing people to aviation and keeping them flying using simulation than Jerry Gregoire. I can’t wait to see what Redbird comes up with next. This opportunity to join leadership team to build on Redbird’s remarkable success, while charting a course for the future is a real privilege. I’m thrilled to accept the challenge.”
The announcement of Fuller’s new role came after a regular Redbird Board meeting held in Fort Worth, Texas, where visitors to AOPA Summit are experiencing Redbird simulators and interactive flight scenarios. Fuller will be presenting a keynote address at Redbird’s Migration Flight Training Conference at the end of the month.
Gregoire says he’ll remain actively involved in day-to-day operations and the Board, even though the title on his door will change. As Gregoire pilots his airplane regularly on Redbird business, he’ll receive the title “Chief Pilot.”
“Honestly,” says Gregoire, “that’s the job I’ve wanted all along.”
Overwhelming response met goals three weeks ahead of schedule, but supply can’t meet demand
Austin, TX (October 9, 2013) – “In preparing for this experiment, we planned for traffic averaging eight times normal,” said Jeff Van West, spokesman for the Skyport experiment to sell avgas for one dollar during October. “Actual response has been four times higher that that—over 30 times our normal volume. By the end of the first week, we’d reached our data collection goal for the entire month.”
Van West said that the response has been so overwhelming, however, that simply meeting the demand for fuel has become unmanageable. “We have three trucks running full time and wait times might still approach two hours, and we can’t get fuel delivered fast enough to guarantee we don’t run out,” he said. “Not to mention conditions for our staff; they’re icing their joints through the day due to the unrelenting workload.”
Redbird Skyport, in San Marcos, Texas, usually pumps about 4000 gallons of 100LL in a month. It’s projected that by October 15 they will have pumped over 90,000 gallons. Van West said that continuing at that rate for the entire month is “physically and economically unviable,” but that the Skyport is committed to handling the demand through AOPA Summit in nearby Fort Worth, and the halfway point of the month.
Preliminary survey data sheds some light on the amazing response. About 30 percent of the aircraft came from outside Texas—including California and the East Coast. About 30 percent have been piston twins. Even though the experiment has only been running a week, about 20 percent are repeat visitors. The most common visitors have been pilots with over 4000 hours and an instrument rating who own their aircraft. This is far off the norm for GA, and could reveal telling insights when combined with other data.
“We regret having to make any changes to the plan. But our goal was both data collection and stirring an infusion of activity in the GA community. On both those counts, we’ve already succeeded several times over even our boldest projections. So we view the experiment as a success.”
How does fuel price really influence aviation activity? This October, a group of companies will use the Skyport aviation laboratory, in San Marcos, Texas, to find out.
San Marcos, TX (September 24, 2013) – “This experiment isn’t about the cost of avgas,” says Jeff Van West, Director of Redbird Media, and spokesman for the experiment. “It’s true that we’re selling avgas for $1 per gallon for the entire month of October. But we’re really using fuel price as a catalyst to stimulate activity and generate data. Of course $1 gas will increase flying activity, if by novelty alone. That’s not the point. The core question is: increase it by how much and for how long? A ten-fold increase says fuel price plays a huge role. A 40-percent increase? Maybe not so much. And if fuel price isn’t the barrier, what is?” Integral in the experiment will be data collected on all pilots fueling their aircraft at the Skyport, located at San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI).
Van West clarified that there are a few conditions to the discounted price:
• This purpose of the experiment is studying the effect that fuel price flying has on flying activity as well as understanding how fuel price factors into the complete cost picture.
• The offer is open to any piston-powered GA aircraft that can fly into San Marcos Municipal Airport under its own power. Only the regular tanks in the aircraft will be filled.
• To maintain a reliable supply for everyone and keep delays to a minimum, the fueling limit is 200 gallons per aircraft per day. Aircraft requiring more than 200 gallons may purchase that additional amount at the regular price. We won’t fuel aircraft that we believe are violating the spirit of the experiment.
• The $1 price is valid for the entire month of October during normal operating hours, 6am to 10pm.
• There may be lines to get gas. If you expect to be in a hurry, we recommend you pre-register on the website or by calling us at (512) 878-6670.
• San Marcos Airport is a former military training airport and has acres of ramp space, so space for waiting or parking overnight is not a problem.
• Data collected from pilots during the month will be aggregated before publication. Absolutely no individual personal information will be shared.
Several big names in aviation are behind this experiment. Garmin, Aspen Avionics, King Schools, ForeFlight, Bendix King, EAA, GAMA, AOPA, Sennheiser, Hartzell, Bad Elf, and Brown Aviation Leasing have all joined forces to make this happen. The City of San Marcos has also offered significant support, underscoring how savvy municipalities understand the economic impact of aviation. San Marcos is an alternative destination to the overloaded Austin-Bergstrom airport, especially during major events, like Formula One races. It’s also an alternative airport for traffic to San Antonio.
For the month while one-dollar fuel is available, CEOs and other leaders from partner companies will conduct town meetings at the Skyport to answer pilot questions and hear opinions on the direction of their products and the aviation industry. Pilot opinions on what motivates them to fly will also be part of the data published when the experiment is complete. The latest schedule is available at: www.redbirdskyport.com/flymore.
“We chose October for this test to take advantage of the fantastic flying weather in Texas, and give pilots additional incentive to fly to AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, October 10-12, and the Migration Flight Training Conference at Skyport, October 28-30,” says Van West. “When the month is up, we expect to have fresh insight into how fuel price really factors into the many forces affecting how often GA pilots fly.”