Lightning strike zaps fuel sales at Allen County Airport

Things have been pretty quiet around the Allen County Airport lately. Airport Manager Ray Bonnett typically sees 12 to 15 planes refuel a day, but lately it’s been closer to 2 or 3.

“Our fuel pumps are down, and so it’s been cutting into the revenue,” said Bonnett.

The reason behind the stagnant fuel pumps would be mother nature. Last Thursday, a bolt of lightning struck and fried the airport fuel station’s fuel master, and made it so pilots couldn’t use their credit cards to pay and refuel on their own.

The new way to fuel up is much more time-consuming.

“They get a hold of me, and I come in and write a hand ticket, and then we’ll come in here and hand run their credit card through our credit card machine in here,” said Bonnett.

Allen County Airport is supposed to be a 24-hour fueling station, so any pilot in need of gas after the work day is done will have to place a call and wait. But they won’t be waiting much longer.

“Today, they got approved by insurance to have it replaced,” said Bonnett.

So there’s a silver lining to the lightning. Insurance is covering the lion’s share of the cost to replace the 18-to-20-year-old fuel master with a state-of-the-art model.

“We were probably going to have to replace it some day anyway, so at this point it doesn’t make any sense to try and get old parts for an old machine. Even if the insurance hadn’t kicked in, we probably would have had to done it ourselves,” said Allen County Commissioner Bill King.

The new fuel master is expected to be up and running at the airport in two to three weeks.