In Well Over 400 Hours Of Flight Time, ANN Sure Got Around This
Final Compilations by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Cheap-Fuel-Finder,
It was a busy and wide-ranging
year for ANN. Since taking the plunge and buying a Cirrus G3 Turbo
in the wee hours of 2008 (literally on New Year's Eve), and we've
been spending a LOT of time on/over the road and with some 300
hours in our aircraft and nearly 200 more in a few others
(including a long/great trip in a Columbia/Cessna 400) and quite a
few hours in a really sweet Turbo-Aztec (with all the ice-fighting
goodies... one of the most rugged workhorses in the M/E world). In
so doing, we've been to a number of airports, FBO and maintenance
facilities in the course of the year... many of which truly
distinguished themselves... and a few that truly did not. That
being the case, we wanted to recognize some of the better
experiences we had this year in the hope that the word will get out
that these are aviation businesses worth frequenting and have
demonstrated their ability to earn our business... and a return
visit when the opportunity arises.
Over many hundreds of hours flown in 2009, we had the chance to
sample the best and worst of a number of American FBOs...
among the very best that stood out was none other than...
KSGJ Galaxy Aviation, St Augustine Airport, St Augustine,
I love going home... and lately, that has taken on even more
pleasant aspects as my life has been augmented by a sense of
satisfaction with what I do, where I live and the people who share
my life. I live on a wonderful little airport community with a
hangar just outside my door and a lovely grass runway just across
the road... pretty much, 'heaven' in Campbell-Speak.
Despite all that, I've come to really depend on a
nearby airport all the more when the weather goes South, the
SR22 needs some motion lotion or I need a place to hang out...
complete with a great little airport restaurant. That airport has
some serious history with me... having been run for many years by
one of my very best friends,, the truly indefatigable Jim Moser
(and his equally laudable Pop, Ernie---who was QUITE the
character). Over the decades, this airport has served as a testing
ground for many of my flight tests, a staging ground for photos and
was the place I chose to introduce Vicki to aerobatics... in a
lavishly restored SF260. That Hot-Rod
Marchetti showed Vicki her first loops, rolls,
hesitation rolls, and hammerheads... and we all know where
that led her -- to the very pinnacle of the aerobatic world. I've
laughed, played, flown, worked and partied hard at KSGJ--The
airport located in America's oldest city, in St. Augustine, FL.
And, yes, I proposed to Vicki next to my Mooney on the ramp after
flying in late one evening under a nearly full Moon... Yes, history
Times change... and KSGJ should have faded away when Jim died,
the FBO was eventually sold, and a control tower took prominence on
the South side of the field. But St. Augustine didn't die, and its
incredible spirit remains pretty much intact. An outstanding FBO,
Galaxy Aviation, is a large part of the reason that KSGJ lives. Run
by industry veteran Mike Slingluff (one of the true GA experts who
"gets it" and has a love for aviation that few can match), this is
an FBO that truly does not care what you fly in... so long as you
DO fly in. Whether you venture there by J-3 or G-V, Galaxy welcomes
one and all with one of the most professional line crews I've ever
worked with (something I know a little about as I cut my teeth
working the line at the legendary Combs Gates-DEN, under the
tutelage of "Little Big Man" Jimmie Joe Ingalls).
I've worked that line crew with all manner of airplane needs...
having taken over parts of the ramp for video work, photo missions
with everything from heavy turbines to ultralights, quick turn
refuels in the MU-2 (which has some interesting requirements...
especially with Tip Tanks -- NEVER put your ladder underneath them,
for instance...), hard IFR requests in pouring rain, racing in and
out with my Glasair III -- you name it. They have taken care
of my birds like they were their own, and have never failed to
offer me assistance and services with a solidly pleasant and
ever-professional demeanor that has impressed a number of my fellow
fliers and passengers (including one well-known astronaut who
wanted to know why I got such special treatment... until he
saw that EVERYONE got it).
Galaxy's facilities are extensive -- a great Pilot's Lounge
(with shower, Big-Screen TV and WiFi everywhere), excellent flight
planning facilities, rental cars, courtesy cars (though the line
crew is well-known for offering rides all over the pace for those
with a simple need to get someplace... and back). It's spacious,
well-appointed and while often busy, it manages to stay incredible
friendly and unassuming. There is a truly nice little restaurant
upstairs (The Fly-By Cafe) that offers great omelets in the
morning, great sandwiches and meals throughout the day, as well
as an attractive veranda that looks out over the main ramp.
Yes, its close to home... and it has some strong history with me...
so I (admittedly) have a hard time being objective about the place
-- but in all of my travels, no place consistently serves my needs
or my passenger's as well as Galaxy Aviation-KSGJ. The place is
just 'plane amazing' -- fly on in and see what I mean...
Aero-Verdict: Outstanding Service, Great Value, Excellent
Facilities, Highest Recommendation.