by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2019 issue
The Wisconsin Aviation Conference (WAC) was held in Green Bay, Wis., May 5-7, 2019, at the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center, directly across the highway from the host airport, Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB).
The conference is sponsored by the Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA), and supported by the Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association (WATA) and Wisconsin Business Aviation Association (WBAA).
Sporting events and networking opportunities began on Sunday, continued with professional sessions on Monday, and wrapped up following sessions and lunch on Tuesday.
The conference was filled with timely topics for airport managers and commission members, consultants, fixed base operators, and representatives of the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics and Federal Aviation Administration.
In between the luncheons, receptions and coffee breaks in which the vast majority of networking takes place, are the informational and educational sessions, such as one-on-one “speed dating” between airports and the FAA Chicago Airports District Office (ADO). There, airport managers and commissioners are able to meet with FAA officials on proposed and active airport development projects.
Sunday evening’s entertainment included dinner at the “Packers Hall of Fame” at Lambeau Field. Monday evening’s entertainment was a reception and dinner at the “Titletown Brewing Company.”
Monday’s general session featured a panel of state and federal aviation officials: David Greene, Scott Brummond and Matthew Malicki of the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics (WBOA); and Sue Mowery-Schalk, Deb Bartell, and Christina Drouet of the FAA.
One of the hottest topic nowadays is the “labor shortage,” and John Chmiel of Wausau Flying Service; Alaine Olthafer-Lange of A&A Aviation, Platteville, Wis.; and Meredith Alt and Jared Huss of WBOA addressed the role our schools and universities are playing.
Other session topics included airport firefighting foam and the environmental impact of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); airport protection through improved airport zoning; airport public relations and crisis management; non-aeronautical airport development; the Snowy Owl and wildlife mitigation at airports; a report on the condition of pavement at Wisconsin airports; drones – law, order and security; special events at airports; AOPA on the airport, and what AOPA is doing to create a pathway to careers in aviation through scholarships and high school STEM programs; airfield electrical and navaid technology; and what ADS-B means for airports.
Awards & Recognition
Among the awards presented included 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 to an individual who has made significant professional contributions in airport engineering or architecture.
Receiving the “Lifetime Service Award” was David Mann, longtime airport manager at Batten International Airport, Racine, Wisconsin (KRAC). Mann was born and raised in Pineview, Georgia, and graduated the top of his class of which there were only nine students. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia. Following graduation, Mann enlisted in the U.S. Army where he flew fixed-wing aircraft and completed one tour in Vietnam. Following service, Mann flew for Eastern Airlines for 15 years; corporate in Austria; fire bombing missions in Alaska; and spent eight years as the aviation department head at Virginia Tech University. Mann holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and has accumulated 17,680 hours of flying time. For 27 years, Mann served as airport manager at Racine.
Mann is a longtime member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association (WATA), Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA), and Wisconsin Business Aviation Association (WBAA).
Receiving WAMA’s “Blue Light Award” for excellence in journalism promoting aviation in Wisconsin was Hal Davis, Airport Compliance Manager with the WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics. Davis has written and coordinated the publication of “Wisconsin Aeronautics Report,” published in Midwest Flyer Magazine, since 2012.
Davis is instrumental in sharing updates about bureau policy, programs, and activities; discusses hot issues in the aviation community; and positively promotes aviation in the state. In addition, Davis is a photographer and has his photographs featured on posters, banners and in numerous aviation publications, including the covers of the bureau’s airport directory, pilot’s guide, and the Wisconsin Aeronautical Chart.
Receiving WAMA’s “Engineer of the Year Award” was Mark Graczykowski, P.E., of the WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics. Graczykowski was nominated for his outstanding contributions to both Chippewa Valley Regional Airport and Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
Graczykowski has been with the bureau for only 18 months, but his dedication to his projects demonstrates an excellent work ethic, especially in meeting timelines desired by airport managers. Graczykowski’s willingness to take on difficult conversations and project issues speaks to his passion for the projects he manages.
Jed Mattmiller, airport engineer with Becher-Hoppe, Inc., received WAMA’s traveling trophy for sporting clays competition. The trophy is awarded to the participant receiving the highest score. The event provides yet another networking opportunity for attendees.
Clinton Torp, former airport director at La Crosse Regional Airport in La Crosse, Wis., received WAMA’s “Distinguished Service Award” for outstanding contributions to aviation in Wisconsin. Torp has distinguished himself amongst his peers for the past 12 years, serving the La Crosse community, first as assistant director and then as airport director.
Torp has been a long-time member of the WAMA board of directors, and also served as an officer and president. He was instrumental in the behind-the-scenes work for the organization, keeping up its website and registration databases. Torp also represented Wisconsin in the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). He is highly respected by state and federal aviation officials alike for his forward leading, and can do/will do attitude. Torp recently accepted an airport operations manager’s position at Des Moines Regional Airport in Iowa, and was unable to attend the conference.
WAMA awarded $3,000 in collegiate scholarships to students who are either attending a Wisconsin university or technical college, or who are Wisconsin residents seeking a degree in aviation. The collegiate scholarships are sponsored in part by WAC sponsors, exhibitors and attendees through a silent auction at the conference. Another $1,000 was awarded in the “Professional Development Scholarship” category for those WAMA members seeking to further themselves in the airport management profession.
Exhibitors & Sponsors
The conference would not be possible without the support of sponsors and exhibitors, including: Aero Insurance, LLC; Alfred Benesch and Company; Airport Lighting; Arconas Corporation; Arrow Energy, Inc.; Avflight Corporation; Becher-Hoppe Associates; Bird Strike Committee; DBT Transportation Services; Endpoint Solutions Corp; Ennis-Flint, Inc.; Epic Fuels; Erect-A-Tube; Executive Air; Fabick Cat; Fahrner Asphalt Sealers LLC; Fortbrand, Inc.;
First Class Concessions; Fortress Fence; Gee Asphalt Systems, Inc.; Genetec; Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau; Hinshaw & Culbertson, Inc.; HUB Parking Technology USA, Inc.; Interstate Sealant & Concrete, Inc.; ISG; Jet Air Group; Jviation, Inc.; Leibowitz & Horton Airport Management Consultants, Inc.; Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.; LUMACURVE; M-B Companies; MacQueen Equipment/Oshkosh Airport Products; Mead & Hunt; METCO Midwest Electro Tech Corp; Midwest Flyer Magazine/Flyer Publications, Inc.; MSA Professional Services; Multi Electric Mfg; NASI Transportation & Mining; New Deal Deicing; OMNNI Associates, Inc.; ProTec Fire; Quantum Spatial, Inc.; Shell Aviation/Titan Aviation Fuels; Sherwin Industries, Inc.; Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH); SP+; Strand Associates; T.E. Brennan Company; Thales Air Traffic Management, U.S.; The Green Earth Deicer Company, Inc.; Volaire Aviation, Inc.; TKDA; Vandeerloop Equipment; Westmor Industries; Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame; Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association; Wisconsin Surplus Online Auction; and World Fuel Services.
Sheboygan County Memorial Airport (KSBM) will sponsor the 65th Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference, May 3-5, 2020, at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (https://wiama.org).