Wayne County named 2020 Airport of the Year by OAA

Wayne County named 2020 Airport of the Year by OAA

The Wayne County Airport was named the 2020 Airport of the Year during a recent virtual awards ceremony. It is currently undergoing a $5.2 million project to improve the taxiway, which, according to manager Amanda McGee, will allow more traffic in and out of the airport.


Airport of the Year is the latest news to bolster Wayne County’s attractiveness. The award, presented to only one airport across the state, was accepted late last month by airport manager Amanda McGee in a virtual award ceremony during the Ohio Aviation Association’s annual meeting.

“This award is an acknowledgment of an airport that makes great accomplishments in moving its airport program forward, all while staying grounded in its community,” OAA director Stacey Heaton said. “They offer a medium for exchanging ideas, sharing information and outstanding customer service. OAA is pleased to present this award to the Wayne County Airport.”

Thanks to a $5.2 million taxiway lengthening project currently underway at the airport, it will only get better.

"As far as county airports go, we are leading the way in pavement," McGee said, following the ceremony. "Our runway is newer, it's wider, it's longer and it's also grooved. It is a lot more favorable (to pilots) than other county airports. We have more runway than most airports our size. We are also putting in a new parallel taxiway that will span the full length of the runway. It will be much stronger, and it will allow more aircraft to come here."

The upgrade will be well-received. "The old one was too small and weak," McGee said. "It deterred a lot of traffic from coming to the airport. The new taxiway will have LED lighting and new signage to make the airport more appealing to those in the aviation industry.”

The small airport is big on amenities, customer service and value.

"This airport is centrally located to a lot of businesses in the area," McGee said. "Because we are a smaller airport, visitors can get in and out easily. There is a lot more congestion in larger airports. We offer a discrete place to land, and people appreciate that."

Another draw to the airport is its competitive fuel prices.

McGee said fuel stored at the airport must be sampled daily to ensure 100% quality. The fuel-testing process uses 4-5 gallons of fuel during each test, and once the fuel is removed from the storage tanks, it cannot be sold.

"We now put that fuel in the reclaiming tanks to remove any impurities that contaminated it during testing," she said. "Then we put it back in storage tanks to sell. We were wasting a lot of money testing fuel."

McGee also is an advocate for aviation and helped get December named General Aviation Month in Wayne County. The Wayne County Board of Commissioners signed a proclamation designating the occasion in 2018.

McGee has been appointed to serve a two-year term on the Ohio Aviation Association Board of Directors.

“This is huge for me,” McGee said. “I have only been in the general aviation industry for two years.”

McGee may be a relative newcomer to general aviation; however, she has an impressive background.

“I served in the Air Force for 10 years as an aerial porter,” she said. “I started in Charleston, South Carolina and deployed three times from there. I served in South Korea, California and Turkey. I got to travel a lot, and I loved it.”

In addition to travel, McGee gained valuable experience in all phases of airport operations. While she is not a licensed pilot, she understands the business of flying.

“I have done everything from processing passengers — like at a ticket counter — where you had to keep abreast of foreign clearance guides and (Transportation Security Administration) regulations moving people in and out of the country,” she said, “to inspecting and moving cargo.”

While serving in the Air Force, McGee traveled with members of other military branches as a joint inspector, helping them develop loading plans for cargo that conformed to standards.

Joining the Air Force after high school, McGee has worked in the aviation field for most of her adult life. But gaining the attention of the OAA and becoming an ambassador for aviation was not something McGee planned on.

“I keep the airport active on social media,” McGee said. “The OAA started noticing our content on Facebook, and they reached out to me. They liked the way we were promoting aviation.”

The connection eventually blossomed into a relationship and the sharing of promotional ideas other airports could employ.

Wayne County commissioner Sue Smail is excited for McGee to begin her role as a board member.

“This is quite an honor, and we are so proud of Amanda,” Smail said. “She has accomplished so many things at the airport. The taxiway project isn’t even completed yet, and we have people calling us that want hangars. The airport is a gem; the economic impact it brings to the county is tremendous. Amanda is innovative, and she is always looking for ways to make things better.”

Smail also said during the ceremony that the airport is highly complimented.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the employees at our airport,” Smail said. “They do an awesome job. We just received a letter today complimenting them and their work. The letter said that there is not a better airport that they have used. It went on to say how the staff is always very courteous and also very knowledgeable. We are so proud of their accomplishments. I see great things in store for the future of the Wayne County Airport.”

Commissioner Becky Foster echoed Smail’s sentiments.

“This is a fabulous team,” Foster said. “They are always looking for revenue streams that we might utilize to enhance traffic to the airport, as well as holding community events to raise interest in aviation.”

Dan Starcher is a public communications specialist for the Wayne County government.

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