Retro-Style State-of-the-Art Facility

Michael Thayer
Michael Thayer, President & CEO

Flying Tigers


“We hire the right people who care and go the extra mile. Our team even fuels the aircraft at the self-serve pumps with no extra charge when available. We show our customers that they are important to us!”

Over 10 years ago, Michael Thayer, President and CEO of Flying Tigers had a vision of what aircraft executive terminals should be like. They were mostly dinosaurs using old tech and cold sterile places. Michael thought, What if we built differently with modern amenities? What if we put a convenience store inside, up to date fiber Wi-Fi, create a fully immersive themed environment that takes passengers and crews back to the days of the Flying Tigers from the 1940’s? What if we make it fun? Michael went on to establish a partnership with Yanks Air Museum at his airport. Yanks Air Museum is one of, if not the World’s largest privately-owned Air Museums. “They have become a great partner with us, where our clients can visit for free with a fuel purchase. We were able to bring down fuel pricing while adding more value to our customers,” he says. “We hire the right people who care and go the extra mile like us fueling the aircraft even at the self-serve pumps with no extra charge”. We hire team members that love to smile. We also have programs to ensure that our team is happy and taken care of. All of this has proven to be a hit.”

Flying Tigers was born out of people having to pay too much for aviation fuel and services, while not getting much for their money. Michael saw an industry that was plain and very expensive, without much value.”

“We thought, we can change that and create raving fans.” As per Michael, The Executive Terminal (FBO) business has become stale and everyone followed a “cookie cut out” version of what they believed an Aircraft Executive Terminal should be. “We looked at this and said why can’t this be fun, deliver more services, and have additional income points? This customer engagement has been a huge success for us.

Michael also found that the key technologies being used were ancient. It appeared, there were few innovators in this industry while looking around for equipment when we were first starting. “So we then turned our attention to who in the fuel industry as a whole did the best job and was on the “cutting edge” of technology in fueling,” he explains. “The auto side of fueling was full of new and evolving tech. The automotive side had better payment systems, better fuel equipment, faster available replacement parts, more service centers to keep us always up and running. These made our downtime almost zero, especially compared to our competition.”

Michael follows a mindset that anything can be improved or made better. “We look at the customer experience that we would like, thus the theming, the affiliation with Yanks Air Museum, our convenience store, even a TV in our bathroom, etc.” he says. “We believe strongly in word of mouth advertising. Then we looked at how we can make our team’s experience better. The design of our own fuel trucks which are safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly at approx. 32 mpg, where the standard trucks get 3-6 mpg, our operating systems are faster and more user friendly, we also designed a portable Ground Power Unit which is in a suitcase, that weighs approximately 35 pounds and easily man-portable. The old Ground Power Units are huge systems on a platform that needs to be towed out to an aircraft and most have a diesel engine running them, again making us mush more environmentally friendly which we feel is important. We will have all of these units available for sale at the end of this year for a fraction of our competition equipment.”

Our team always tries to understand and see what the customers want, and catering to their needs is what makes any business successful. “Future leaders should always realize that everything can be made or done better. Also, try and have your team and you, have fun doing whatever you do. People work better and are more creative in a fun and appreciative environment.”

Michael says that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, life has become harder. “Isn’t it nice to go somewhere where everyone is smiling, happy to see you, remember your name, and gives you great service? Especially now more than ever,” he says. “We now have people come over just to say that they love hanging out with us, as it brings some normalcy back to their lives. We are now working on an all-suite Executive Terminal. With the outbreak of Covid-19, and the enjoyment of having your own suite to relax in while awaiting your customers if you’re a pilot, or, relaxing watching whatever YOU want on TV, while waiting for your aircraft to depart, in a safe and private place.”

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