Green Bay To Host 64th Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference

Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2019 Revised 

The Wisconsin Aviation Conference (WAC) will be held May 5-7, 2019 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay, Wis. To register, go online to the Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA) website: https://wiama.org/events. For hotel reservations, call 920-494-7300.

The conference will open with sporting events and networking opportunities on Sunday, and continue with professional sessions on Monday and Tuesday. The 2019 WAC will be filled with timely topics for all attendees – airport managers and commission members, consultants, fixed base operators, and representatives of the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics and Federal Aviation Administration.

Among the WAMA awards to be presented include the Distinguished Service Award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to aviation; Blue Light Award to an individual in the media for their excellence in reporting Wisconsin aviation events and activities; Person of the Year Award to an individual for their contributions to aviation in Wisconsin during the past calendar year; Lifetime Service Award to an individual for their contributions to aviation in Wisconsin for at least 10 years; and Airport Engineering Award, presented to an individual who has made significant professional contributions in airport engineering or architecture. Additionally, WAMA will award $2,000 in professional development scholarships, and up to $2,000 in collegiate scholarships.

The host for this year’s conference is Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB), and its director, Marty Piette, and his staff.

In 1919, Lawson Aircraft Company built and tested military training aircraft on what was then Blesch Field. It wasn’t until 1928 that the field saw its first airline traffic when Northwest Airlines established the first Green Bay to Chicago airmail service.

The early years were difficult, with winter weather conditions and spring thaw making the grass strip too soft for safe landings. Along with runway issues, the Highland Avenue area was quickly being developed and encroaching on the airfield, so the airport was moved to its present location in 1948 and renamed Austin Straubel Air Field in honor of Green Bay native Austin Straubel, who was the first Brown County aviator to lose his life in World War II. In 2016, the airport was renamed Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport.

Through the years, Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport has been a place for those with a passion for aviation and those looking for air travel.

The airport is proud of its legacy with the Green Bay Packers. A look at past newspapers show Austin Straubel Airport reporting the weather on game days, including the 17 below zero for the famous December 1967 “Ice Bowl.” The airport has welcomed the home team and its competitors with pride.

Today, Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport serves all of  Northeast Wisconsin, and operates around the clock, 365 days a year. The airport directly and indirectly provides jobs for 1,633 people in Northeast Wisconsin, and contributes $242.9 million to the region’s economy. The airport is strictly a self-funded enterprise with an operating budget that has no impact on the tax levy of Brown County.

The airport has two full-service fixed base operators – Executive Air and Jet Air Group. Executive Air provides transportation services, refueling, catering, game parking, and Oneida Casino transportation. Jet Air Group is a Signature Select® fixed base operation providing fuel for local and international flights, aircraft maintenance, avionics, air charter and flight training.

In 2018, KGRB saw an increase in passenger traffic and anticipates an increase in 2019 among its four airlines: American, Delta, Frontier and United. Car rental agencies include Avis/Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and Alamo/National.

Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport is also a regional base of operations for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Additionally, the airport is a U.S. Customs Port of Entry with a newly completed international arrivals terminal. The airport can also handle international refuse regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Marty Piette has been with Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport since November 2015, and was appointed director in 2018.

Originally from Wausau, Wisconsin, Piette has been working in the airline and airport management industries since graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1995 with a Bachelor in Business Administration, majoring in Airport Administration. Piette has spent time in various management roles at Central Wisconsin Airport (KCWA) in Mosinee, Wis.; Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (KMKE) in Milwaukee, Wis.; Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (KGPT) in Mississippi; and Muskegon County Airport (KMKG) in Muskegon, Michigan.

Marty Piette is an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) through the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE); a board member of the Wisconsin Airport Management Association; and a member of the Great Lakes AAAE, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). He is also a licensed pilot.

Piette and his wife of 22 years, Kim, have three children, ages 10, 13 and 15. In their spare time the Piettes enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, and relaxing at their cabin in northern Wisconsin.

For additional information on Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, visit https://www.flygrb.com.

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