Airport manager happy to have landed in Rifle
Post Independent Staff
Pardon the obvious pun, but Brian Condie has experienced a lot of highs as an aviator.
There was the time a gigantic B52 bomber snuck underneath Condie’s small plane from behind as he flew a couple thousand feet over Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
“He was just having fun with us,” Condie said. “I looked down and there he was. It was awesome.”
Then there was the time a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot took Condie on a high-performance practice “gun run” above a California beach.
“He made me sick, and just laughed,” said Condie, who is licensed to fly fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
Condie has been the Garfield County Regional Airport manager since May 2002, and one of his most recent high points came three weeks ago when a Boeing 737 business jet landed and taxied to within spitting distance of his office desk.
“The wing was about two feet from my deck,” Condie said, pointing to the taxi-way from his low-slung office. “It’s fun when that jet comes in. It’s fun to watch it take off, and fun to watch it land.”
Condie generally arrives at work wearing a tie, and flashing a friendly smile. He enjoys his job because he loves flying, and the challenge of running an airport that caters to aircraft that range from two-seaters to private jets. Condie especially loves the atmosphere at the Garfield County Airport.
“Airports are very calming places to work,” Condie said as he settled in for another day’s work. “When people are in an airport, they are going on vacation. … Here, passengers and friends come to the airport and they are all happy. People who work here enjoy it.”
Condie graduated from the Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in business, with an emphasis on aviation. He previously worked at airports in Logan and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Garfield County Regional Airport is a general aviation airport with no scheduled commercial service, but with 24,000 takeoffs and landings last year. That averaged out to 65 landings or takeoffs per day.
Approximately 50 people work at the airport, but only Condie and operations technician Mike Brown are county employees.
Condie keeps track of his work in a zippered leather notebook.
“I’ve got last year’s finance report to complete, and review this year’s leases. There are annual fees to figure out and send out … fuel reports … a spill prevention plan for the new tank … a ground transportation letter to send out … I’ve got to meet with the county surveyor, and the sheriff on an emergency plan,” he said.
Garfield County is upgrading its airport as an economic development tool. Part of what Condie will do through this year is to count the flights originally destined for Rifle, and those diverted from other airports.
“We want to attract more destination aircraft,” Condie said.
Last year, Condie submitted Garfield County’s airport master plan to the Federal Aviation Administration. He hopes the plan will be approved in February. A key element is making the airport safer for large jets. To do that, the county will rebuild the 7,000-foot runway.
“That’s a huge project,” Condie said. “That’s what I’ll be doing for the next three or four years.”
Condie and his wife, Terri, have five children range from 5 to 14. At Christmas, Terri asked each child if they wished they still lived in Utah. “They all said `No.’ They like the friends they’ve made here, and the school,” Condie said.
If the past is any predictor for the future, at least some of the Condie kids will get to spend their middle and high school years in Rifle.
“I tend to stay around a while,” Condie said.
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
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