Industry Insight: Airport Operations Superintendent

airport_opsThis one is for my fellow college students!  I know that we’re getting deeper into our semester and that life is revolving around classes, studying, assignments, and exams – then we repeat it all over again.  It’s easy to get embroiled in just finishing school and focusing on our academic lives.  I’m guilty of thinking that I’ll figure out what my job is going to be like after I graduate.  I have a general idea of what I want to do, but I haven’t always been great about taking a closer look about the positions my education can afford me.

This summer I had the unique opportunity to work for Nantucket Memorial Airport (KACK) on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.  Anybody I talk to about my experience automatically thinks it was an internship.  However, KACK hires seasonal employees because the high influx of General Aviation traffic (GA) due to the popularity of Nantucket Island as a vacation spot.  I found out about these seasonal positions through UND’s job board and was very interested in working at a busy GA airport.  I ended up working in the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in the position of Customer Service Representative.  It was similar to a job I had working at an airport in Minnesota, but the traffic at KACK was 10 times busier than I had ever experienced.  I also had the chance to meet many pilots from many different companies in addition to several charter companies popular on the East Coast.

Besides having a great summer job and an added bonus to my resume, my position at KACK gave me some more insight into Airport Operations.  I had been pondering over the summer whether or not to switch to Airport Management, and this summer I realized just how much I enjoy being a part of the day-to-day operations of an airport.  Recently, I had an assignment in my Human Resources Management class that required me to write a job analysis on any job we wanted to.  My thought is that if you get to write about something of your choosing, it should be something you’re interested in pursuing, or are curious about.  While I didn’t get to interact with Airport Operations nearly as much as I had hoped, I took this assignment as an opportunity to really ask some in-depth questions of my direct supervisor, Preston Harimon, the Operations/Air Rescue Firefighting/FBO Supervisor.

Preston’s job is very involved and he is in charge of overseeing several different departments.  This, in and of itself, is very admirable and during my interview I had even more respect as his job covers many different aspects Airport Operations.  I’ll touch on each of the departments to give some insight into what his duties are comprised of.


As the Superintendent, Preston oversees the Operations Department as a whole.  He has an Operations Supervisor and 6 other full-time employees in his department.  He is also the ARFF Chief Firefighter – essentially he is responsible for the ARFF program at the airport.  He schedules yearly training for on the firefight equipment, class sessions, and personnel training.  Overall, he is responsible for smooth daily operations of the entire airport.  His job could be vary as much as being in the control room answering radio calls and directing parking, on the ramp fueling an airplane, in the office scheduling training, or responding to a downed aircraft on the airfield.


Preston is responsible for the day to day operation of the FBO.  He has a FBO Supervisor that he works with daily to ensure that operations are running smoothly and improvements and/or goals are on track to be fulfilled.  The FBO has 4 full-time employees at any given time that deal directly with the pilots and passengers.  The FBO is a dynamic and fast-paced environment, so communication between employees, customers, and supervisors is key.  Essentially, it’s important that it is staffed effectively to handle the high traffic levels.

ARFF_airportopsLine Services…

Line Services is more of a subcategory of Operations, but deserves its own explanation as it is just as involved as the previous parts of Preston’s position.  He has a Line Supervisor who oversees all services provided to the airport.  This includes fueling all aircraft on the field, aircraft services, aircraft movement on the General Aviation (GA) ramp, refueling of fuel trucks, vehicle movement, and upkeep of the fuel farm.  This department also includes the 8 full-time employees and approximately ten seasonal employees (employed during the summer months).  While Preston has a supervisor underneath him, it isn’t uncommon to see Preston on the ramp fueling aircraft or fueling it, among other line services duties.

After the fact…

 Overall, my somewhat “hum-drum” assignment for class turned into a great, insightful interview with my Airport Superintendent from this summer.  While I just gave you a brief look into what Preston does on a daily basis, the details are much more numerous and I came out of that phone call with a greater appreciation for what he does.  Also, I got some great industry insight into what I would like to do for a living.  In addition, I’m even more excited to go back to KACK next summer to learn more about what Preston does on a daily basis.  Now, my college readers, still think that you should wait until after graduation to explore your job opportunities?

Until next time, blue skies & tailwinds…

Aviation Job Opportunities at


2 thoughts on “Industry Insight: Airport Operations Superintendent

  1. Debra Marsh

    What a wonderful article on my son, Preston! Loved reading it and it helped me understand his job and the enormous responsibilities he faces daily. He works extremely hard and I am very proud of him!!!

    Thank you, Debra


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