Lots of random thoughts today:
A few weekends ago Kitsch and I went into Augusta, taking some folks to the Masters Golf Tournament. I just don't get golf, but maybe I'm not in the proper tax bracket to fully appreciate it. On a side note, it's funny how many sports are variations of "hit the ball with the stick". Baseball, golf, hockey, bowling (hit the sticks with the ball), lacrosse, cricket, billiards (fancy name for 'pool'), tennis (bigger stick).
I must say, the operation at KAGS Bush Field in Augusta was incredibly well-run. The folks who work at the FBO there did an amazing job of organizing a few hundred pilots and airplanes, and it was entirely painless. Fuel was fast and efficient, parking was effortless, and they got us a GPU when we asked for one. Whoever designed the airport plan for the Masters tourney should be recognized and awarded a gold star or two. My only remark is that it would be nice to have customs on the field there, at least for the Masters week.
Anyway, after making sure our passengers were taken care of, we rented a car and drove the 90 minutes to Columbia, South Carolina. In Augusta, we could stay at the 1-star Super 8 motel for $450/night each, or we could drive to Columbia and stay at the Marriott for $129/night each. And to be honest, the city of Augusta is kind of a dump so we weren't too upset about the drive.
Why do we even care about a few hundred bucks when a flight like this will run into the tens of thousands of dollars? Well, our boss is a genius - our latest contract includes profit-sharing, which means about 10% of my income is based on whether or not we make money. It's calculated so that things like maintenance / training / aircraft supplies etc. aren't included, which is good as it would make for a pretty big conflict of interest if my compensation was affected by aircraft repairs etc.
Now our operation is structured to basically break even on all the flights we do for our parent company, so that essentially means our opportunity for profit is based on the charters we do. With the price of fuel approaching $8/gallon at the major centers, we now tanker fuel from home base and plan to land at max landing weight at all our destinations so we don't have to uplift any more expensive gas than is necessary.
That being said, we certainly don't skimp on fuel either. My personal comfort zone is to take about an hour's more fuel on top of our legal requirements for all our flights, and I'm not going to change that no matter what it costs.
But if I see an opportunity for an easy cost saving like driving 90 mins to save $700 on hotels, that's a no-brainer. I don't mind exploring the local countryside, and both Kitsch and I will squeal with delight when we get some of that money back on next year's bonus cheque.
Anyway, we arrive in Columbia, South Carolina. We check into the local Marriott and head out for a meal. We come upon a mom n' pop restaurant and decide to roll the dice. I should have known better after reading the sign on the front door. "In the interest of friendliness, we will serve all people who come through these doors, regardless of race, color or creed." You know you're in the south when....