Baker Aircraft closing its doors

April 27, 2001 12:00 am

By JAYSON JACOBY

Of the Baker City Herald

Baker City soon will need someone to fuel planes and provide other services for pilots who land at the citys airport.

The citys airport commission learned Thursday that Baker Aircraft Inc., the current fixed base operator at the city-owned airport, will cease business May 18, City Attorney Tim Collins said.

City officials want to ensure there is no interruption in the re-fueling service, he said.

A delay of even one day would result in the Federal Aviation Administration issuing a notice to pilots, Collins said, a move likely to discourage fliers from landing at Baker City.

Some of them might not return even when the re-fueling service re-starts, he said.

They find out when we shut down, but not when we start up again, Collins said.

Jon Croghan, a longtime pilot and airport commission member, agreed that having fuel available without interruptions is crucial to the airports success.

If you dont have gas there youre certainly not going to have anybody stopping by, Croghan said. Thats a key thing.

A possible option, though a temporary one, is to have the city hire workers to pump gas, Collins said.

The city did that for about three months in 1977-78, until a new fixed base operator started business.

Although the city owns the airport, the fuel tanks and fixed base operator buildings belong to Mike and Ann Trindle, Baker Aircrafts previous owners, Collins said.

Ann Trindle said this morning that the couple will work with the city any way we can to prevent any interruption in the re-fueling service.

Collins said the airport commission, in an effort to entice another company to replace Baker Aircraft, voted Thursday to recommend the City Council change the airport ordinance.

It requires the fixed base operator to offer several services in addition to fuel, including flying lessons, airplane rentals and charters.

The commissions proposal is to exempt some of those services during unforeseen situations, such as the present imminent closure of Baker Aircraft.

The idea, Collins said, is that by temporarily lifting the requirement for certain services which might be expensive for the fixed base operator but bring in little revenue it would be easier to attract a new company to take over at the airport.

Croghan said the commission also intends to look at other cities ordinances to see whether its common to require fixed base operators to offer as many services as Baker City does.

Baker Aircraft is closing because there has been no local ownership in the corporation since owner Brian Moody failed to return from a flight last fall east of Baker City, said Rob Burgess, a Baker City accountant and one of the conservators of Moodys estate.

No trace of Moodys plane has been found despite extensive searching.

Moody was flying a wildlife biologist from Idaho Power Company who was counting deer in Hells Canyon.