Airport co-managers hired for Belfast

Two airport veterans will split duties
By Fran Gonzalez | Nov 23, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Airport co-managers Scott Story, left, and Kenn Ortmann in one of the many hangars at Belfast Municipal Airport Nov. 20. Belfast City Council on Nov. 5 approved hiring both as part-time airport managers.

Belfast — The City Council voted unanimously Nov. 5 to hire Kenn Ortmann and Scott Story as co-managers of the Belfast Municipal Airport, a role previously filled by Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge.

Hired as development director in June 2010, Kittredge said he was appointed airport manager within the first month of his arrival. At the Nov. 5 council meeting, he noted that at the time he knew little of running an airport except for being a passenger on an airplane.

"I never would give myself an A+ on running the airport," Kittredge said. "There are not enough hours in a day.

"Even though it's not at the level of Bangor Airport, or Portland, it is a tremendous asset and could be improved," he said. "I think it's a win-win-win for the city, for the airport and for the Office of Economic Development."

City Manager Joe Slocum said Kittredge was pulled away from his economic development duties because the airport was taking more time since there are now more regulations, more maintenance, increased demand, and with that, increased potential.

"It needs better attention by people who are more attuned to aviation," Slocum said.

According to the city manager, Ortmann and Story are two veteran users of the airport who live in the community and are available to work on a part-time basis, splitting up managerial duties equally.

The position will pay $35 an hour and will be for a one-year term. "We will try it for a year and see if it works for them," Slocum said, "and see if it works for us."

Speaking at the airport administration building Nov. 20, Ortmann said one of the main initiatives they plan to take on is to make fuel available at the airport. Currently there is no refueling facility and pilots must make sure they do not land needing fuel.

Story said, "Imagine living in Belfast and having to drive to Searsport to get your fuel." He added that planes get anywhere between 4 and 12 miles to the gallon, making searching for fuel not cost-effective.

Several years ago, Story said, fuel was available from a training company using the airport. The arrangement ended when the company left the area.

Ortmann said the fueling station would look like "a couple big cylindrical 5,000-gallon tanks," containing regular and Jet A kerosene-based fuel.

Story and Ortmann plan to meet with an engineering firm that works with airports to develop an accurate cost estimate. "We have heard estimates that differ pretty dramatically," Ortmann said.

They will also discuss the project with the City Council and seek permission to begin the process of putting the job out to bid.

"We need to make sure we are dotting all our i's," Ortmann said, because 95% of the cost will be paid by Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation dollars.

While Ortmann will be responsible for the "paperwork stuff," including grant applications, reporting requirements and updates, Story will be the "boots on the ground," inspecting lights and runway conditions, and making sure the tech side of the airport is working properly.

Story grew up in Belfast just down the street from the airport and began flying in 1978. After a 25-year career in law enforcement, he returned to flying in the northern Maine woods as part of his guide service. Story has flown for Penobscot Island Air, and now owns Seaview Aviation flight school at the airport, "wearing several hats, but at different times."

Ortmann moved to Belfast in 2016 from Rochester, N.H. For most of his career, he worked in the public sector directing planning departments in several New Hampshire communities. He served as a member and vice chairman of the Skyhaven Airport Advisory Council for many years and is currently part-time administrator for the town of Liberty.

"I am instrument-rated and have flown over 2,000 hours, mostly in my Cessna 150," he said. In March, Ortmann and a partner purchased a Cessna Cardinal 177, "which better meets my typical mission."

Ortmann said he currently focuses on Angel Flights, providing free transportation for passengers in need of medical treatment far from home, and PALS missions, assisting military personnel and their families with free flights to aid in their recovery and rehabilitation process.

"Training and education is a big piece," Ortmann said of his vision for the airport. "We want to encourage young people to be interested in aviation. Most airlines are currently facing a shortage of pilots."

Story added, "There is a huge void of pilots in the aviation industry. The airfield is very conducive to training students and young people in preparation for a career. This is another piece of the pie — training."

According to Story, the airport generates revenue through land lease agreements on hangars. There is also excise tax on airplanes and fees for leaving planes overnight, known as "tie-downs."

"And when fuel comes into the airport," he said, "we will make money on that."

Ortmann said the airport also indirectly boosts the local economy with tourism. People flying into Belfast spend money on local businesses and recreation. He noted a person he knows who flies in from Denver and summers in Belfast, paying local property taxes.

The airport is a convenience for business travelers coming to Belfast for such businesses as Bank of America, athenahealth and Front Street Shipyard. It is also an asset for emergencies when LifeFlight needs to land its larger fixed wing turbo prop King Air airplane.

Story said the Belfast airport is "quite a gem" compared to other, similar-sized airports with smaller runways.

"The airport can accommodate private jets, small Learjets or six- to eight-passenger Cessna Citation jets," he said.

Ortmann said, "We're really excited about all the things we can do to make the airport an integral part of the community and educate people on what a resource it is. It is a mile of pavement that can take you virtually anywhere."

To reach the airport managers with questions or suggestions, call Ortmann at 603-970-1947, or email him at airport2@cityofbelfast.org; or call Story at 323-5582, or email him at airport1@cityofbelfast.org.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Kevin Riley | Nov 23, 2019 19:03

We are planning to retire to Belfast and I'm glad to here this. Have fuel at the airport will make life much easier.

For those that blanch at the 4-12 mpg we measure gallons per hour not by miles. At 9 gph at 130mph it's not as bad as it looks.



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