WAUSEON – The new fixed-based operator of the Fulton County Airport is a seasoned aviation hand and instructor who promises a full-rounded list of services.
Richard Naves is so committed to the position that he established Naves Aviation in July with his wife Rachel, specifically to operate the county’s airport. They will further commit by moving from their Whitehouse residence to an apartment over the airport hangars.
“We want it to be (an airport) where you can get whatever you want. Having everything available in one place is the goal,” Naves said.
Through a bidding process, his company replaced Stewart Aviation Services as the airport’s fixed-based operator on Aug. 1. The northwest Ohio natives signed a three-year contract with the Airport Authority Board.
Richard, 50, graduated in 1984 from the Macomber Aviation Center at Toledo Express Airport, now known as the Toledo Public Schools Aviation Center. He earned certification to work on aircraft, and was employed by Cessna Citation Product Support at Toledo Express from 1986-92.
He has also held positions at the Air Transport International and Kitty Hawk hubs at the airport, working at various times on Douglas DC 8 and Boeing 727 aircraft. He also served as hub maintenance supervisor at Capital Cargo.
When his former TPS instructor Charles Morris retired, Naves was invited to fill his position as training director for the school. He is currently in his 23rd year there.
With a “mom-and-pop entrepreneur kind of mindset,” Naves had long considered the kind of opportunity Fulton County Airport offers. He was eager when the role of airport maintenance operator came available.
The Naves are creating a somewhat different route than Stewart Aviation’s flight school priority, focusing more on providing aircraft modifications, repairs, and preventative maintenance.
However, flight training is still available at Fulton County Airport through Glass City Flight and the company’s Beachcraft Sundowner airplane, which has gained 100 hours of local instruction since March. More aircraft will be added as demand increases.
Naves Aviation also performs avionics – communication and navigation radio repair and modifications. It’s a specialty not all airports offer.
Naves said the government has mandated the next generation of air traffic control by 2020, and a large number of aircraft still need the modifications he can provide as the fix-based operator. “To fly into any controlled airspace, you’ll need that equipment,” he said.
He hopes to add permanent mechanics to his personnel as the airport becomes busier, and will rotate several interns from the TPS Aviation Center in positions that will give them hands-on training and benefit the airport.
As with the previous operator, the Naves will provide fuel and maintain the facility’s Life Flight helipad and 24 airplane hangars.
“We feel we need a full-rounded fixed-based operation. We still want to see the flight school activity, but we think the core of the business should be built around maintenance modification,” Nave said. “For just opening, I think we’ve been doing a fair amount of business.”
Airport Authority Board President Lonnie Prince said the fact that the Naves will move into an on-site apartment over the airplane hangars “is great dedication to service to the community. They’ll be there 24/7.”
The Naves’ business sense and attitude will greatly assist growth at the airport, Prince said.
“They have proven to be exceptionally exceptional at this point,” he said. “They’re what we call airplane people: people with a desire and passion for aviation.”
County Commissioner Jeff Rupp said, “We’re excited to have the Naves on board managing the airport, and look forward to a long-term working relationship with them.”
The Naves want to build up the airport’s clientele and provide an atmosphere “where people with aircraft feel that they’re welcome. We’re working on a lot of improvements, and we’re hoping to be here for the long haul. Everyone is happy that things are moving positively in the right direction.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.