Although she’s only been Hillsdale Municipal Airport manager for five days, Ginger Moore already has almost a lifetime of experience with the airport.
Since childhood, Moore has been surrounded by flight. Both her parents were pilots, and as a child, she was present with them when the Hillsdale airport opened. She became a commercial pilot in 1980 and served as a flight instructor and assistant airport director under former airport manager Jason Walters.
When Walters resigned his position on Saturday, City Manager David Mackie appointed Moore as a replacement. Additionally, Walter’s company, Patriot Aviation, no longer has any connection with the airport.
Moore’s position as an airport manager makes her a part-time city employee. In recent years, other cities like Coldwater have adopted this model, shifting management of the airport to a city employee, rather than a business owner or flight school instructor. According to Mackie, putting the airport directly under the city’s control could potentially save the city up to $50,000 per year.
Mackie’s decision met with apprehension from the public, especially with residents who had hoped the city would seek out another business to relocate to the airport.
Travis Stebelton, a native of Hillsdale who runs an aerial survey business out of the Jackson Airport with a fleet of eight planes, said he would have been interested in the position if the city had conducted an open search.
“An open search would yield the best fit to turn the airport around,” Stebelton said.
Moore said despite any disagreement about Mackie’s unilateral decision to appoint her, she has been a committed servant to the airport and looks forward to continuing to guide its future. As assistant manager, she handled communications with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, she founded the airport’s flight school and accounted for the airport’s advertising and public relations.
“I’ve been doing a lot of the aviation side, a lot of the legal side — keeping things legal — and putting on big events in September,” she said. “I’ve been doing a lot of managing already, so I think I’m ready for this.”
Moore originally came to the Hillsdale Airport under former manager James Scheibner’s tenure as a flight instructor. At this time, she taught Walters how to fly, which she credited as instrumental in her return to airport after a brief retirement.
“When the city let the former manager go, Jason was looking into taking over being the manager and he wanted me to come up and help him,” she said. “And that’s how I got back involved.”
Moore said her ultimate goal as manager is to keep the airport safe.
“With Jason, we did a lot of updating, many improvements,” she said. “But there’s always more.”
According to Moore, the airport needs a new fuel farm, as the current one will not support the new airport apron in the long run. The new apron has also attracted people interested in building private hangers, Moore said.
“I think it’s important to develop some areas on the new apron,” Moore said.