Most fixed base operators don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising, so the owners tend to get creative with ways to bring pilots to the airport. There are a number of low-cost gimmicks that have been successfully employed over the years.
Here are three of our favorites:
The selfie space. Is there someplace on your airport ramp that is easily recognizable and suitable for a selfie? For example, is there a mural on the exterior wall of a hangar? A compass rose next to the fuel pumps? These are great backdrops for photographs. Visiting these airports and taking that particular selfie can become a rite of passage for the fledgling pilots in the community.
Designate a stuffed animal as traveling copilot. In the early 2000s, a flight school in the Pacific Northwest provided their clients with a plushie cat wearing aviator goggles to accompany them on cross-country flights. The cat, named MAYDAY, was featured in a number of photographs and the renters and student pilots took great joy in posing with it.
Establish a viewing area for the public. Some airports have viewing areas complete with picnic tables and sometimes even toddler-appropriate playgrounds on the land-side of the airport. The idea is to encourage more people to come out and visit. Some airports get the help of local service organizations and material donations to build these facilities, and often pilots donate their time and skills.