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New county airport manager anxious to help facility fly even higher

Donna Daniels
Staff Writer

Brian Condie showed up for his first day on the job as Garfield County Airport’s new manager turned out in a natty tweed jacket and a can-do attitude.

No sooner had he sat down in the county commissioners’ room in the courthouse than the commissioners put him on the spot.

They wanted his take on an application for a second fixed base operator at the airport. An FBO provides the usual services at an airport, fixing, maintaining and chartering planes. In addition, and what makes it a much-desired job, FBOs sell aviation fuel, thus reaping a tidy profit at busy airports such as Garfield County’s.

Without missing a beat, and having done his homework, Condie laid out his reasoning supporting the proposal.

Condie comes to the Rifle airport from Salt Lake City International Airport, where he was the terminal service coordinator.

“I was the go-to guy” for passenger complaints. “It was fun, especially helping distressed passengers,” he said.

Salt Lake City Airport, he added, “was big on service. I bring that aura with me. You bring me a problem and I will try to make everyone happy.”

Although his job at SLC airport was rewarding, Condie was ready for a change.

“After seven years I felt like I wanted to run my own airport,” he said.

Rifle was an ideal location. It’s only a 5-1/2 hour drive from Tooele, Utah, where his parents live.

Most importantly, his two older kids and wife, Terri, gave it a thumbs-up on their visit earlier this year.

“My wife is a small-town girl” who grew up in Lehi, Utah, Condie said.

Condie is California born and bred, but “grew up all over the West,” he said.

His dad was a CPA who bought up bankrupt companies and brought them back to health. They lived in San Diego, Escondido, Portland and Idaho. His father settled, finally, in Tooele, a small town close by the desolate military training grounds of eastern Utah.

Condie got into aviation when he was 21, when he learned to fly Robinson helicopters in San Diego.

“I got the aviation bug and I’ve been at it ever since,” he laughed.

He met and married Terri when they were undergrads at Utah State University in Logan.

They now have five children: Nicholas, 14, Juden, 12, Michal, 10, Alexis, 7 and Trenton, 5.

While in college, Condie got his pilot’s license and landed a job working for the FBO at a general aviation airport – that is, noncommercial – in Logan.

Three years later he landed the job at Salt Lake airport, where he oversaw aircraft maintenance and tenants, and passenger relations, and acted as a liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration.

His experience made him a quick sell with the Garfield County administration, but it took a little more effort to sell the idea to the kids.

In the little town they lived in near Tooele, “it was 20 minutes to everything,” that is, Salt Lake City. “Now it would be an hour to an hour and a half,” he told them.

But the good news was, they could get into the national forest for camping and fishing in under an hour. The kids liked the idea, Condie said.

With the family settled, Condie now has the daunting task of developing the airport into an economically viable concern.

Condie’s predecessor, Ken Maenpa, brought the airport a long way down that road. During his tenure, which ended in January, Maenpa initiated an ambitious improvement project at the airport that will see, by 2004, extended runways and improved taxiways.

Maenpa also brought private businesses to the airport and started the wheels rolling on a deal with commercial developer Bob Howard that will lead to a business park next door to the airport.

Now it’s Condie’s task to see all these deals through. He also must see that the county gets the grants it applied for to the FAA that will fund most of the improvements.

“The FAA (grant) is almost a done deal,” Condie said.

Condie is also about to review the airport’s master plan with engineering consultant Washington Infrastructure, which will revise the plan.

“The airport is in a good spot for growth,” Condie said. “My number one task is to talk to the commissioners about how they want it to grow.”

Monday, Condie spoke with the commissioners about the direction and speed of such growth.

With the expanded runway, the airport will be poised to receive larger business jets such as 737s and 757s, he said.

With more planes landing, there will be a need for more ramp or parking space, he added, as well as hangars.

But there is also a downside to growth, he said.

“Doubling the number of aircraft doubles the potential for noise complaints,” he said.

With his experience at a large metropolitan airport, Condie brings the vision of Rifle airport’s future.

“I’ve been where this airport will be in 10 to 15 years,” Condie said.


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