The second and third generation owned and operated, Butterfly Aviation has served the Goodland, Kansas region since John and Marilyn Collett bought the existing FBO in 1972.
“My dad grew up on a farm in Oklahoma; but he always had an interest in airplanes,” said John’s son, Scott Collett, current president of Butterfly Aviation.
Scott himself grew up working at Butterfly, recalling his days pumping gas and spending time in the shop rebuilding their Cessna 195. However, he took a hiatus from aviation and set his sights on the agriculture industry.
“I was interested in aviation, but I also had a passion for farming,” Scott said. “So, I went to work on my grandfather’s farm but returned to Butterfly in 2000 to work with my dad again.”
Today, the FBO is a lively family affair. Scott and his wife, Alice, one of their sons, Jonathan, and his wife, Caitlin, and their four children are all on site from time to time. Add the rest of the Butterfly gang and customers will quickly have someone parking aircraft meet customer needs. Even John can be found bucking rivets and working on a Cessna 195 in the shop.
“We have three generations of Colletts at Butterfly in the shop on any given day,” Alice said. “We are very blessed to have the mom-and-pop environment here—welcoming and family-oriented.”
The FBO’s friendly atmosphere is underscored through its slogan, “Don’t Flutter By…Stop At Butterfly,” which has been around since its earliest days.
“Our slogan emphasizes our commitment to making our customers feel at home and at ease,” Alice said. “The slogan is also printed on our Nectar Kits, which are handed out to our customers whenever they visit Butterfly.”
Most of Butterfly’s customers are agriculture aircraft, as the region is heavily populated by farmland and crops.
“We get aircraft not only from the Goodland, Kansas region but also neighboring states like Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska,” Scott said. “Most are from the agriculture industry; but we also have local general aviation, transient customers, those looking for flight instruction, or any of our other services.”
The FBO’s Cessna 172 is not only available for flight instruction, but available for rent, whether someone is looking for a two-hour joyride or a weekend getaway trip.
In addition to flight instruction, Butterfly Aviation offers several line and maintenance services—from after-hour fueling and hangar storage to Cessna 195 axle repairs and door post installation. Not to mention the FBO is one of just a few shops in the country specializing in Cessna 195 repairs and maintenance.
Many of these services are conducted in the FBO’s maintenance shop, which was expanded in 2017 and where much of the family spends their time.
“Our addition made room for more planes, meaning we could work on several aircraft at a time,” Scott said. “Ultimately, we added 2,000 square feet of space, which allowed us the room to fit in additional aircraft,” Scott said. “It doesn’t seem like much, but it made all the difference as we could work on several planes at once.”
Butterfly Aviation is serviced by CityServiceValcon who markets aviation fuels for Phillips 66. They bring another dimension of partnership, support and flexibility providing additional value to Butterfly's business.
While indeed a small-scale FBO, Scott and Alice emphasized the importance of having a fuel provider like CityServiceValcon, alongside the Phillips 66 brand, where customer care is highly valued—no matter the FBO size.
“Prior to our relationship with Phillips 66, we found we were waiting too long to receive our fuel,” Scott said. “We switched because Phillips 66 refines the 100 low lead fuel which allowed us to receive the quality fuel we needed quicker.”
“And we haven’t gone back since our relationship began in 2008,” Alice said. “We have our people now who are ready to answer questions, give us updates and they are constantly checking in to make sure we are navigating well.”
In addition, Butterfly takes advantage of Phillips 66’s Trusted Fuel learning resources, helping the team stay current on the latest safety protocol and prioritize fuel safety on and off the ramp.
“It’s so important to have our people educated, and fortunately, we have that support from Phillips 66,” Alice said.
While Scott would say his first passion was farming, he has grown to love aviation as it is where he and Alice have watched their family commune.
“I have a unique perspective in that aviation was always an interest. What keeps me passionate about the industry is watching my family grow and succeed in the same environment I grew up in,” Scott said.
“Three generations are here making memories while flying our Cessna 195 or rebuilding aircraft,” Alice said. “That’s the history we have cultivated here.”
This close-knit team has also watched local youth begin careers in aviation, as many local kids have worked the line to then discover they have a passion for the industry.
“We have one previous line personnel now in Alaska, another is an FBO manager in a neighboring town, and yet another entered the air force and served as an overseas trip liaison for a previous U.S. president,” Alice said.
Many past employees returned to Butterfly Aviation in August when the FBO celebrated its 50th anniversary with a fly-in event and reception.
“It was truly a great day,” Alice said. “At one point, we had over 50 aircraft sitting on our ramp, with many more landing throughout the day.”
The support “The Gang” at Butterfly Aviation feels from their customers, fuel provider and even the local community is a testament to its welcoming environment—motivated by a strong family that together shares a love for the aviation industry.