While many FBOs in the U.S. are similar, it comes as a surprise to find one that breaks the mold. One of them is Summit Aviation, the lone service provider at the Arkansas Bentonville Municipal Airport/Louise M. Thaden Field (VBT), which recently relocated across the airport to the brand new Thaden Fieldhouse.
Summit has been the FBO at the 1940s-era, dedicated GA airport for more than a decade, ever since VBT was ravaged by a tornado to the point that its future was in jeopardy. Dave Powell, the company’s owner, decided to take on the aircraft servicing at that point and began to build infrastructure.
Nestled on the shore of Lake Bentonville, the $12 million Thaden Fieldhouse (like the airport, named after local pioneering aviatrix Louise Thaden), which opened in October after a year-long construction program, includes the FBO’s 10,000-sq-ft two-story terminal (which more than tripled the size of its previous facility), with a passenger lobby, and CSR desk on the ground floor and flight-planning area, pilots' lounge, shower facility, and two snooze rooms upstairs.
Among its amenities are a 20-seat A/V-equipped conference room, full kitchen, crew car, and onsite car rental. Café Louise is a popular destination for pilots and non-aviators alike and overlooks the ramp, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as the best airport coffee in the country, according to Brad Elliott, who as the FBO’s recently named general manager, oversees the entire complex.