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Study Seeks to Document Effect of $1 Avgas on Aviation Activity

August 28, 2013 - EAA is joining several other industry groups and companies in a study about how fuel prices influence aviation activity. In October, the group will offer avgas at $1 per gallon at the Redbird Skyport aviation laboratory at San Marcos Municipal Airport (HYI) in Texas to find out.

"This experiment isn't about the cost of avgas," said 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."

Offering aviation fuel for $1 a gallon will undoubtedly increase flying activity, Van West continued, but that isn't the point of the study.

"The core question is: increase it by how much and for how long?" he said. "A tenfold 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?"

Data will be collected on all pilots fueling their aircraft at Skyport in October. The fuel offer is open to any piston aircraft that can fly in and out, so long as the pilot participates in the study about how flying choices are made. Repeat customers may even get follow-up questions to help track changes in flying habits. Pilots arriving in their cars or carrying fuel cans will not be eligible.

Along with EAA, participants include Garmin, Aspen Avionics, King Schools, ForeFlight, Bendix/King, GAMA, Jeppessen, Phillips 66, Piper Aircraft, Avemco Insurance, Sennheiser, Hartzell, Bad Elf, and Brown Aviation Leasing.

The City of San Marcos and some local businesses have also offered significant support, underscoring how savvy municipalities understand the economic impact of aviation. San Marcos is often a reliever airport for busy Austin-Bergstrom and San Antonio airports.

For the month while $1 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.

Not only is October a fantastic flying weather month to conduct the study, Van West notes, but it also give pilots additional incentive to fly to the AOPA Summit in Fort Worth, October 10-12, and the Migration Flight Training Conference at Skyport, October 28-30.

"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," he said.

World's first diesel Cessna checkride
Redbird Skyport marked what it claims to be the first student pilot to pass a checkride in a diesel-powered Cessna 172, introduced at AirVenture this year as the RedHawk.

Flight student Dylan Lair passed his single-engine commercial checkride last Saturday, becoming the world's first pilot to take a checkride and get any rating in a diesel-powered Cessna. Likewise DPE Roger Sharp became the first examiner to examine a student in a diesel airplane.

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