The award recognized Showalter “for committed support of public benefit flying organizations in times of national and international crisis,” notably for efforts supporting relief work following the Haitian earthquake, which left a million souls homeless, and Hurricane Irene, which wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the Bahamas before turning into the fifth costliest hurricane in United States history.
Advocacy for an industry
There is another commitment the Showalters have made over the years: advocating for general aviation.
Before Kim took the helm at the FBO, she was Chair of the Business Management Committee for NATA (National Air Transportation Association) and has served on the Phillips 66 Aviation Dealers Council Since 2004. Her son Sandy Showalter, the FBO’s Vice President of Marketing and Sales, serves as President of the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), and led the charge to win three major legislative victories during the past two years. FATA actively promotes and protects the rights, interests and development of the state’s aviation industry.
Daughter Jenny, the FBO’s Customer Service Manager, served as Vice-Chairperson of Angel Flight Southeast, a nonprofit group that arranges free flights by private aircraft owners to faraway medical facilities when commercial service is not available, impractical or just not affordable. The group of volunteers flies hundreds of patients a year – most of them children battling terminal illness.
Jenny also spent 10 years volunteering for NBAA’s Schedulers and Dispatchers Committee, chairing it in 2008. Two years ago, Brad Elliott, Director of New Business Development for Showalter, picked up the reigns from Jenny to serve on the NBAA committee.
And this summer the Showalter crew launched yet another advocacy mission to promote private flights to the Bahamas. Working with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Elliott was named a Bahamas Flying Ambassador.
“Within this last year, I've answered at least one call per week from someone who wants to fly to the Bahamas,” says Elliott. “Pilots want to know someone who's done it, so they know exactly how to fly there. We are a Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Gateway FBO and we can walk them through the step-by-step process, including customs at our airport, to make sure it's done right, so that there are no worries about doing it wrong or paying fines.”
Static display: anything but static
For the 2012 NBAA Convention, the static display will feature more aircraft on more square footage than when the Showalters last hosted the event two years ago.
The Florida Department of Transportation is rebuilding and expanding Orlando Executive’s north ramp to an open area of about 25 resurfaced acres. The $1.1 million project will finally repair damage sustained eight years ago during Hurricane Charley.
And while the NBAA static display is open to the public for three days, it takes over the ramps at Showalter Flying Service for over two weeks. Setting up, hosting and tearing down the display – while accommodating the 175 based aircraft on-site – makes the event a logistical challenge.
It’s an effort that requires Showalter to recruit extra line techs and customer service reps from FBOs across the country – and immersing them in Showalter’s customer service training.
“Whether you fly into Orlando Executive Airport during the NBAA convention or any other time, you will be met by a group of people completely dedicated to serving our customers and guests,” Kim Showalter says. “The event poses some complex logistics because we want to make sure our based customers can come and go as they please. Our crew just makes it all happen.”
When the private planes fly in for NBAA, it’s virtually nonstop, filling up two pages of Showalter’s flight tracker.
To quench the visitors’ thirsty demand for fuel, Phillips 66 Aviation provides extra refueler trucks and management personnel.
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...