FBO of the Week: Palmetto Aviation Repair/Golden Isles Aviation (St. Simons Island, GA)
This week, we stretch the definition of "FBO of the Week" just a tiny bit to allow for a nomination we couldn't resist. AVweb reader Abbott de Rham couldn't say enough about his experience at Palmetto Aviation Repair on St. Simons Island, Georgia (SSI). While he gives high marks to the local FBO (Golden Isles Aviation), it was his diehard praise of the team of PAR that made this nomination stand out.
We tried trimming Abbott's story down a bit, but the feeling of warmth and (quite appropriate) Southern hospitality is best appreciated in his blow-by-blow account of the visit:
It is May 22nd, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and I am over 800 miles from my Vermont home base. My family has travelled South in our 1957 182A, landing at a small island along the Georgia coast about 25 miles north of St. Simons Island. It is late in the day, and the upper hinge of the pilot door has broken. I am able to get a hinge dropped-shipped from Cessna for overnight delivery. (Thank you, Cessna, for supporting a 51-year-old aircraft.) I call Palmetto Aviation Repair at SSI and talk to Dan Lynch, the A&P on duty. The part will not arrive until later in the day on Friday. Door disassembly and structural riveting will be required. The owner is already away for the holiday weekend, and everyone else in the area is ... heading for the exits. Dan graciously offers to do the repair on Saturday and calls Chuck McKenney, an A&P with years of structural repair experience. Chuck also volunteers to come in on Saturday to lend his expertise. We have never met, and this is all arranged on the phone. Already this feels right. The hinge arrives Friday, and first thing Saturday morning I pull up to the Palmetto Aviation Hangar. Dan is there, and we begin disassembly and door removal. Chuck shows up for removing rivets and installing the the new hinge. It is my first experience watching pros buck rivets in very tight spaces. By the end of the morning and less than 48 hours from a broken hinge, the plane is back together with its new parts. I take them out to lunch at the local landmark — Barbara Jean's Restaurant.
Jim Barta is the owner and also a pilot. Upon hearing about [our] being stranded and then rescued by Dan and Chuck, he insists on picking up the tab for lunch! On Tuesday, I fly back to SSI to settle up with Kirk Ramsey, the owner of Palmetto Aviation Repair. The total bill for Dan and Chuck's labor plus tools and rivets was embarrassingly low, to the point I added more — against Kirk's objections. Quality work, outside of regular hours, at on honest price — you can't ask for more.
What could have been a complete disaster turned into a great experience. Kirk gets praise for hiring good people, supporting them, and pricing work more than fairly considering the circumstances. Chuck said yes to being called in on a holiday weekend when he had better things to do. At the center of this story is Dan, who went far above the call of duty to open the shop on Saturday, come into work to help out a guy he did not know, and to round up the additional expertise to ensure the job was done perfectly. Because of these guys, my vacation was barely interrupted, I've made new friends, and I've found a top-notch shop for when I travel down South a few times each year.
The FBO, Golden Isle Aviation, is great too — but this story is about the amazing service of Palmetto Aviation Repair. Travelers up and down the coast as well, as full and part-time residents of the area should know there is [a] top-notch shop with great people located at SSI on St. Simons Island.
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!