Crabtree Aviation is the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) of Edmond-Guthrie Regional Airport or the Geoport.
Originally from Garber, Oklahoma, Glen Crabtree started out in maintenance before he learned to fly in 1962. “Once you learn to fly, it’s hard not to like it,” he said. “I began commercial aviation work in 1965.
“In 1975 I moved to Guthrie Municipal Airport with my three person business, Crabtree Aircraft. The only other business at the airport was Underwood's Pipeline, a company that patrols pipelines looking for leaks, infringements or other problems. As our oldest tenant, at that time they employed three or four people, so there were only a few aircraft related employees on the whole airport,” said Crabtree.
The name was changed to Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport when Edmond agreed to partner with Guthrie on the airport. “It helped the economic development of both towns,” said Crabtree. Edmond supplied matching funds for the airport and they agreed to share operating costs. The Geoport Airport Board is comprised of people from both Edmond and Guthrie, bringing a lot of expertise to the Board.
“There have been real improvements to the airport in the last five years. We have the best airport board of all small airport boards in the state. The future looks good.”
Airport related businesses employ over 100 people now, Crabtree explained. “The airport provides good paying jobs, which are hard to get in some small towns.
“There’s been major expansion on the airport. Extended taxiways, runways, new markings and lightings and a new terminal building. Runway length was expanded to 5,200 feet in 2004. Now the airport includes Spirit Wing Aviation, Rocket Plane Inc., Underwoods Pipeline, and Zivko Aeronautics, as well as Crabtree Aircraft Co. ”
The population of airplanes has also increased. “I brought three planes with me when I started work here and Underwoods had three or four. Now we have about a hundred and ten planes based here.”
The Geoport was selected as the Oklahoma Airport of the Year in 2006. “The airport went from a sleeping hometown landing to a pretty major airport,” said Crabtree.
Crabtree’s own business is growing. Five years ago, they had five employees, they have now doubled to ten. One of their biggest areas of growth is the maintenance business.
Their second area of growth is the Crabtree Flight School. Crabtree’s flight school stopped in 1998 when an accident took the life of Sherry Nelson, Crabtree’s Chief Instructor. Women instructors were rare then and she was exceptional because she taught lessons every day for a living for almost twenty years. The flight school started back up in 2002.
Crabtree Flight school has five planes used for flying lessons, from small single engine trainers to larger, twin-engine aircraft. Classes are offered on every rating that is available from private through airline transport.
“We conduct ground school and can help you receive your private pilot, instrument, multi-engine, or Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) ratings. We can also help you get back in the seat by offering bi-annual flight reviews and refresher courses.”
“Currently, we have about twenty-five students in various phases of training. It depends upon what your goals are in aviation,” said Crabtree. Katia, a young woman from Russia is taking lessons. She has soloed for the first time and just completed her first cross-country flight.
“If you want to become professional, you must hone your skills and develop as much experience as you can in different airplanes,” said Crabtree. "My best times are working with students. Some have gone on to the airlines, or the Air Force, some to corporate flying or to be an instructor."
Before taking flying lessons, Crabtree recommends the Introductory Flight, also called Discovery Flight. It is reasonably priced at $49.00.
“Schedule an hour of flying and see if you are truly interested,” said Crabtree. “About 75 to 80 percent of the people finish once they start the school.”
A person must be sixteen years old to fly solo and seventeen years old to get a private pilot’s license. FAA requires at least forty hours instruction to get your Private Pilot License which can be done in an average of three to six months.
“I never tell people that flying is easy, but I do say if they like an enjoyable challenge, this can be it,” said Crabtree. “I personally like flying different airplanes, especially ones I haven’t flown before. It’s a challenge.There’s a feeling that you can control and manuver through all three dimensions of space. I don’t know of anyone who comes back thinking it was a perfect flight. There is always room for improvement. That’s the challenge of it.”
Crabtree explains that the population who flies airplanes is much more highly trained than vehicle drivers. They must have regular, recurrent training. And planes, unlike automobiles, rarely get closer than a mile from each other.
Crabtree Aircraft provides airplane fuel and is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. seven days a week. They also provide plane tie-downs, aircraft maintenance, rentals and sales.
“I expect to see more improvements in the airport. It takes time. They are developing the airport industrially, which will attract other aviation businesses. That’s one advantage of a commercial airport.”
The Geoport is located at 520 Airport Road in Guthrie. For additional information call 405-282-4250 or check the websites www.geoport.us or www.CrabtreeAircraft.com.