Honolulu Star-Advertiser May 5, 2011
In May of 2008, the sale of Bradley Pacific Aviation to Ross Aviation was finalized. I stayed on to manage the company until November. In December, I started Oke`e Aviation Services and was interested in doing business at Kalaeloa Airport. I met with Ben Schlapack, Oahu District Airport Manager to discuss my interest in providing fuel at Kalaeloa. I was aware that the DOT-A was moving to put in fuel tanks of there own and put out a "Request for Proposal" to operate the system. The DOT-A was not involved in fuel operations at any other airport in the state and I told them that they should not start now. I would prefer to acquire a land lease and develop my own facility and not just operate something the state would build. DOT-A was only interested in someone operating their system. The DOT-A not only had to build the facility but needed to develop a "Fueling Facility Lease" document which was going to take many months to complete.
Without having preferred options, I submitted a letter of interest to the DOT-A in 2009. When Ben Schlapack passed away in 2009 and Jim Pratt replaced him, I sent in an additional letter of interest and then again in 2010 to ensure my interest was current with DOT-A.
A little background on the development of the DOT-A's fueling facility.
The former Airport Administrator, Owen Miyamoto was given the task of assisting with the fuel facility project. Owen would call me from time to time ask for advise on various aspects of the project. From the beginning they were headed in the wrong direction. Years earlier, Circle Rainbow Air, an FBO at Honolulu International Airport, went bankrupt (2000), owing the state ten of thousands of dollars . The DOT-A took their 10,000 gal avgas tank as part of that debt. That tank was to be one of the tanks in the new facility at Kalaeloa. My strong advise was to stay clear of that tank. I was the Managing Director of Circle Rainbow Aviation till 1998 and I was very familiar with the tank. It had multiple flaws and should not be used in a new system. The DOT-A went forward anyway. They put tens of thousands of dollars into the avgas tank to make it operational and once completed it failed final inspection and was deemed unusable . I got a call from Owen Miyamoto to tell me I was right, It was junk.
Oke`e Aviation truck
The Jet-A tank was a new tank with many required bells and whistles to meet current codes and standards. I would have changed some and added others. As I continued to watch the development of this facility, my frustration grew. I still would prefer to lease land and build my own but the state wanted to be in the fuel business so they could increase revenues.
The completion day was getting closer, when the contractor noticed the concrete pad that the tank was sitting on was cracking. It was confirmed that the base was inadequate for the weight of the tank and that was even before the 10,000 gals of fuel . The tank had to be removed and the pad re-poured. Another delay.
Okay, now there is one tank on a new pad. What was going to be a Jet-A tank, is now an avgas tank.
I continued to inquire about the "Request for Proposal" and I was informed it was forth coming.
I remember having a meeting with Jim Pratt, Oahu District Manager (DOT-A) upon my return from business on the mainland on June 8th. My meeting covered a few topics with one being the Kalaeloa fueling facility. I told him I would give him another letter of interest so it would be on file. He told me the RFP was already posted to the newspaper. We called Property Management from his office ,were I was told that the deadline was 4 pm the previous day. Not the deadline to submit a proposal but to submit a Proposal Intent Package. I asked if I could get copies of the RFP documents and I was informed that I would not be able to get copies or put in a proposal past the deadline.
Over two years of talking with the DOT-A, giving advise, not taking my advise, waiting for them to correct their mistakes to wind up being short by 18 hours. I checked the paper for days on end and missed it while on a previous trip. My bad...
The DOT-A response... "Better luck next time"
I got a copy of the RFP documents, unofficially to see what I was missing out on. After reviewing the package of material I felt better about the exclusion from the RFP process. My first instincts were my displeasure with the DOT-A facility, rather than being able to build my own on a long term lease lot . The more I read, the more I would not have wanted to take on this facility.
Oke`e Aviation Services would be satisfied to give consultant services to aviation operators in Hawaii. The interesting thing was most of the calls I received were from frustrated operators and their dealings with the DOT-A.
Even though, I may not have been interested in taking on the fueling facility, for Reggie Perry it was an important part of his vision for Barbers Point Aviation at Kalaeloa Airport.
I will share more of my thoughts on the DOT-A as the story continues at Barbers Point Aviation Services
photo credit Brad Hayes
The former Circle Rainbow Aviation avgas tank arrives at JRF from HNL