ORLANDO – How do you host a large, multi-multi-million dollar display of the latest business aircraft, along with thousands of visitors and scores of additional flights, while running your normal fixed base operations like nothing is out of the ordinary?
If you’re Showalter Flying Service – Florida’s oldest and largest family-run FBO – you spend months preparing, you work with the State of Florida to resurface 25 acres of ramp, you recruit top line and customer service pros from across the land, and then you do what you’ve always done, take care of your clients like you have for the 22,000 other days you’ve served Orlando Executive Airport (ORL).
When the 2012 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Annual Convention rolls into Orlando, with a static display of the latest executive aircraft drawing a steady stream of visitors, Showalter Flying Service will be ready, says Kim Showalter, President and CEO of Showalter Flying Service. After all, it will be the eighth time Showalter Flying Service has hosted the NBAA display – while handling a dramatic jump in transient flights, pumping thousands more gallons of jet fuel, and serving based customers like it’s just another normal week for general aviation in Central Florida.
“We love to host the NBAA display,” says Showalter. “The demands are large, the work hard, but it gives us a great opportunity to reach out to both our customers and visitors from all over the world. Many of the NBAA visitors get their first impression of Showalter Flying Service during the convention, so this is our chance to show what we can do.
“It circles back to our purpose, which has been the same since the FBO began in 1945. We’re here to show people how convenient and satisfying business and general aviation can be.”
In fact, when Howard and “Sandy” Showalter and their cousin “Buck” Rogers bid to become the FBO at Orlando in 1951, they were flying against the grain of an airport facing decline. The city-run airport had a reputation for poor service, the story goes. Transients were avoiding the place, and only three aircraft remained based there.
But the Showalter brothers and Rogers saw an opportunity.
“Their premise was that they were not in the business of selling fuel and servicing aircraft, they were in the business of taking care of pilots and passengers,” explains Kim Showalter, who has headed up the FBO since 1994.
Today it’s clear the founders of Showalter Flying Service succeeded. The FBO, still run by the Showalter family, is one of the most successful in the South.
But this longtime Phillips 66® Aviation-branded dealer does more than focus on customer service. The Showalter family is immersed in promoting general aviation, and the good it can do for local communities.
Public benefit flying
When natural disasters have struck the Atlantic and Caribbean region, Showalter Flying Service has responded.
There are patients needing urgent medical care to be flown, doctors to be delivered, and desperately needed supplies to be ferried. During two recent disasters – the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake and the destructive 2011 Hurricane Irene – the Orlando FBO stepped up, supporting volunteer humanitarian flights with fuel, line services, logistical support and their own aircraft.
This September at a special ceremony in Washington D.C., Showalter Flying Service was honored for Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Flying, an award presented by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and the Air Care Alliance (ACA).
Kim Showalter heads up Showalter Flying Service based at the Orlando Executive Airport, site of the upcoming 2005 NBAA Convention's Static Display of aircraft. The event that was originally...