LaSill Aviation Fuels America’s Defense

On the Great Plains, a hard-working Phillips 66® Aviation FBO handles commercial, GA and large military aircraft.
LaSill - gray tails in line edited sm
LaSill - gray tails in line edited sm
Aug. 11, 2011 - PRLog -- LAWTON, Okla. – Looking down from Mount Scott, the plains stretching south from the ancient Wichita Mountains, the sense of history is palpable here in Southwestern Oklahoma.

This is where robust herds of American Bison rambled beneath 500-million-year-old granite bluffs. It is where Comanche, Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne plotted to save their lifestyle. And it is where the last of the legendary South Plains forts now thrives as one of the nation’s important military training and deployment bases.

At midnight, the centuries-old significance of this place is clear to the owners and line crew of LaSill Aviation, the fixed base operator at Lawton Ft. Sill Airport (LAW). When a massive military “gray tail” plods into Lawton’s airport in the dark of night, LaSill – one of Phillips 66® Aviation’s newest branded dealers – patiently waits to refuel America’s defense, and carve out its own notable piece of Great Plains history.

Huge Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs dispensing heavy metal hardware, wide-body jets hauling troops to war theaters, choppers ferrying military brass to 75th Fires Brigade drills – LaSill Aviation handles those aircraft the way it services the airport’s airlines and general aviation flights, by going the extra mile.

“It’s like a big herd of elephants coming in there, the gray tails, those giant military transports,” says Joe Montgomery, military fuel sales account executive for Phillips 66. “There are lots of details and you’ve got to be able to deal will all sorts of stuff. It’s usually on short notice, often in the middle of the night, and sometimes it’s a pretty big swarm.”

In the midnight hour
About a quarter of LaSill Aviation’s military flights are in the midnight-to-dawn range, explains Chris Pittman, co-owner of LaSill with Bill Tipton. “When these flights are set up they are traveling round-the-clock, so somebody along the route is working these flights at night,” Pittman says. “These are the hardest, as we all have our regular jobs to do each day with the FBO.”  

For a third generation farmer like Pittman, working dawn patrol is part of his DNA. Pittman still owns a farm his grandfather homesteaded during the historic Oklahoma land rush 100 years ago.

But running the FBO was new territory for Pittman and Tipton when they started the LaSill Aviation in 2006. Pittman knew aircraft maintenance and he knew airlines, racking up 25 years of experience. Tipton ran an aircraft cleaning company that served American Eagle flights in Lawton, Dallas and Bentonville, Ark.  

On the FBO’s second day of operations, three empty DC-9s flew in.
It was an auspicious beginning, one that foretold the “No Pain, No Gain” doctrine an FBO must adopt when working with the military. The LaSill crew had to fill each DC-9 with 350 tires. Then they refueled the aircraft.

“We had to sling a lot of rubber to get there, but our first fuel sale was a little over 4,000 gallons,” says Pittman.

Cleaning up with old fashioned service
Five years later, LaSill Aviation has earned a reputation as a hard-working airport operator, with old-fashioned customer service and a capability to accommodate any aviation need, whether private, corporate, commercial or military.

Since Tipton and Pittman started at Lawton, based aircraft has grown some 40 percent. To attract new fliers, the pair added aircraft rental and sales. Pittman credits their “old fashioned” service model for the growth.

“I know a lot of people talk about their great customer service, and we like to also,” Pittman says. “The very few problems we have had we addressed immediately, and I believe that almost 100% of our customers are happy, whether they are GA, airline or military. We are steadily building a foundation in the sky.”

Tipton, a retired U.S. Army 1st Sergeant, was running his aircraft cleaning company in Bentonville when Pittman took a layoff from American Eagle, completing a 10-year stint as aircraft maintenance manager. “Bill came over and asked if I wanted to work for him,” recalls Pittman. “I quickly said ‘Sure, does it involve golf?’”

The answer was affirmative and soon the pair would find themselves working on a bid to start their first FBO. The advantages each brings – Tipton with airline cleaning, Pittman with airline aircraft maintenance – is paying off.

In 2007 Tipton’s cleaning operations were folded into LaSill Aviation. Pat and Tony Grills joined the ownership group, to help manage the growing company. Now the company cleans aircraft at five airports, including Lawton, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles World Airport (LAX), Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF) and Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA).

Meanwhile, LaSill is building on Pittman’s quarter-century’s worth of experience in heavy-duty airframe and engine maintenance.

A crucial supporting role
LaSill switched its brand network to Phillips 66 Aviation earlier this year. “Supply was a big point with us,” explains Pittman. “We have been very happy with the transition.”

“They play a critical role supporting Fort Sill with its troop deployments and exercises, and they do that through the Phillips 66 Partners-Into-Plane program,” explains Keith Reneau, Director Contract & Military Fuel Sales, ConocoPhillips. “Phillips 66 Aviation worked with LaSill, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Universal Fuels to develop a creative solution for processing the fuel transactions. It enabled LaSill Aviation to significantly improve their return on this vital segment of their business.”

The FBO uses Partners-Into-Plane – the industry's first contract fuel program – to process DLA transactions. “With payment received in two business days, cash flow is greatly improved for LaSill Aviation,” says Reneau. “FBOs make significant investments in facilities, employees and equipment in order to provide the best services to their customers. A good fuel supplier, like Phillips 66 Aviation, can help generate the best return on that investment.”

In the land where Geronimo is buried and an Army base is a National Historic Landmark, perhaps it’s High Plains destiny when a soldier joins hands with a third generation farmer to grow a business that helps America defend its frontiers.

For more information about LaSill Aviation, visit
For more information on Phillips 66 Aviation, visit

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For 84 years Phillips 66 Aviation has been making and supplying fuel for aviation. Phillips 66 Aviation supports the nation’s largest branded dealer network. Currently, Phillips 66 Aviation supplies jet fuel and avgas to a network of 779 Fixed Base Operations. More information is available at Phillips 66 is a trademark of ConocoPhillips Company or one of its subsidiaries.
Source:Mark Klein - FKM
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Tags:General Aviation, Military Aircraft, Fbo, Phillips 66, LaSill Aviation, Oklahoma FBO, Airports
Industry:Transportation, Defense, Energy
Location:Houston - Texas - United States
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