EAA Chapter 725 is a small chapter with 25 members, but one that is very active, particularly in supporting our local airport Grants Pass Airport (3S8). We have a chapter hangar and pay a yearly ground lease, which over the past few years has been waived due to our in-kind airport improvements. Our latest project was the refurbishment of a fuel truck to offer non-ethanol premium auto gas to resident and transient aircraft.
Several aircraft owners at the airport had been carrying jugs of fuel from gas stations in town to fuel their aircraft. Many of us are members of EAA Chapter 725, and two of us (myself and Ken Clark) serve on the Grants Pass Airport Advisory Board. Speaking with our incredible airport manager, Larry Graves, we began researching the possibility of providing premium auto fuel, which nearly all experimental and a growing number of certificated aircraft are able to use - and at a significant cost savings over 100LL.
As it happened, Medford Air Service, a long-standing FBO at Medford Airport a few miles east, was going out of business and had a 1966 Chevy fueler for sale. Larry purchased it for $2,200 out of airport operating revenue and arranged for a commercial truck service company to refurbish it for our use. The truck languished in the airport’s facility until two of us inquired as to why the process was taking so long, ultimately offering Larry our services in exchange for credit against our hangar ground lease. As our chapter had previously constructed a campground, painted a compass rose, installed an auxiliary wind sock, and refurbished the segmented circle under these terms, it was a natural fit. Within a day we had the truck in our hangar.
The truck needed new taillights and wiring, turn signal, wiper switch, and horn, as well as repair of rusted rain guttering around the cab. Cosmetically, we completely repainted the body, polished the stainless-steel tank, and procured and applied the required fuel truck placards along with adding the words, “Josephine County Airports,” in a font tipped in flames (to add a little levity to the project).
Being able to offer non-ethanol premium auto fuel at the airport should attract transient aircraft as well as new visitors, since as far as we know, there is no other on-airport source for this fuel within roughly 150 miles of 3S8. Another Southern Oregon airport has applied for a grant to fund a brand-new non-ethanol facility, while Grants Pass now has one at no taxpayer cost.