If you told me three years ago I’d find myself in Oregon, I probably would have laughed. When I started at the University of North Dakota (UND), I had a different plan – in fact, I was on the track to becoming a commercial pilot. Long story short, I got my Private Pilot’s License, but along the way, I found a new passion in airport operations and management. Fast forward a few years and I find myself in the high desert of Oregon surrounded by beautiful mountains and working at an airport that is the only training base for F-15s in the nation – who could have guessed it?
So, I want to introduce you all to Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport! This awesome gem of an airport has four runways, seven taxiways, and is home to Kingsley Field (OR Air National Guard). Besides the Guard, there’s a hopping General Aviation population including a United States Fire Services base – there’s currently one airline here, Peninsula Air, which has an average of two daily flights.
The great thing about working at a small airport is getting to learn how to do a little of everything – and yes, I do mean everything! I could be managing wildlife, mowing the grass, doing a field inspection, a perimeter check, fixing a gate, or fixing pavement – and that could be all in the same day! When I was looking for that first post-grad job, being able to learn a little about everything on an airport and be responsible for fixing it, maintaining, etc., was something that really appealed to me. It meant I could gain valuable experience that I could carry with me to future positions. Oh, and all those possible tasks I listed above? I really have done most of those in a day – how cool is that?!
The funny thing about higher education, or even UND’s Airport Management program, is that it doesn’t prepare you for everything in your first job. I had two degrees, a specialization, and a professional certification walking into my first job, and I went home that first day feeling like I still had so much to learn. Don’t get me wrong: a degree is very valuable, but you can’t put a price on the hands-on experience that a first job can offer. Also, there is so much to learn from different people in the industry no matter where you find yourself. So, don’t think of us kids as so crazy as to move half way across the country for that first job.
That’s all for this post – check back soon for an update on my new educational endeavor. In the meantime, check out these photos from my first few weeks on the job!