Sunday, November 12, 2006
I had hoped to post a little more consistently, but I am dependent on how much time and energy I have after a long day of flying--and whether I have the internet access at the hotel where I'm staying. For example, the picture above is the Gulf Coast shoreline on the way into Pensacola, Florida, on the same day that I spent the night in Toronto, Canada (internet access at this hotel is $13!). At the FBO, though, it's free, so here I am.
So, what is an FBO? FBO stands for Fixed Based Operator and is basically the private terminal (as opposed to the standard commercial airport terminal you're probably used to). Privately owned airplanes use these as one-stop service centers from where pilots can get fuel, maintenance, cleaning of the aircraft (to include the toilet if applicable), overnight hangar parking/tiedown service, deicing in cold weather, etc., along with assistance with flight planning, hotel arrangements, etc. Plus, the passengers can get their catered food from here, rent a car or get a limo/taxi, use the lounge or meeting facilities (often), and more. Some FBOs also have flight training and aircraft rentals or charters.
The nicer ones really cater to the pilots, with crew lounges with big screen TVs and satellite systems, showers, snooze rooms, sometimes exercise equipment. This is because many pilots fly for one owner, and should that owner need to spend the day in one location, the pilots end up sitting for hours there. Usually these people in the FBO are especially friendly because there is a lot of competition between the different FBOs that might be on any given airport. Oh, and sometimes they can charge very high fees for their services, too...!