City clerks, public works quietly keep pilots flying

by Cassandra Isackson
Director, Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2020 issue

Do you ever think about the people who work in aviation? I don’t mean the people who use aviation… I mean the people who are in aviation, making the system work.

At MnDOT Aeronautics, I’ve often heard our pilots marvel at what they didn’t know, they didn’t know. Until they began working with us, they had not spent much time thinking about all that must be done, and who must do it, to make flying, and landing, and taking off, possible.

Someone is plowing the runway. Someone is mowing the grass. Someone is issuing NOTAMs. Someone is replacing runway lights. Someone is processing the paperwork to pay the electric bill to keep the runway lights on!

Leading the frontlines of this work is the airport manager.

When we think of an airport manager, two types of people typically come to mind. We may think of someone who is immersed full time in airport and aviation operations. It could be someone who has pursued airport management as a career and is a full-time employee of the airport. Or perhaps we think of a fixed base operator (FBO), managing the airport on behalf of the community, while simultaneously running their business. These professionals have extensive knowledge of aviation and let’s face it, they don’t just work in aviation, they live it. Aviation is their chosen full-time profession, and most likely their life-long passion. There are others who manage airports as well. In fact, they outnumber the full-time airport managers and FBOs.

They are the city clerks, city administrators and city public works staff. Their full-time job is not managing the airport. As we in Aeronautics work side by side with these professionals, it is clear to us that their passion is serving their community, including you. I am always impressed with their ability to understand the complex issues that airport managers must deal with and successfully perform job duties outside of their chosen field. I often marvel at how happy they are to play a role in making sure that you can fly, and take-off, and land.

Each of these airport managers, whether they are full-time, FBO, or city staff, do things every day to make aviation in Minnesota possible.

Everywhere I travel in Minnesota, pilots go out of their way to express gratitude for all that MnDOT Aeronautics does. I encourage you to also extend a hefty dose of that gratitude toward your airport manager, FBO, city clerk, and city public works staff who help keep you flying, safely, behind the scenes at your favorite local airports.

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