The Edgartown selectmen have appointed a new manager to pilot the Katama Airfield.
George F. Smith 3rd, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and summer resident, has been awarded a lease to manage the town-owned grass airfield.
Mr. Smith, president of Gentle Wings Aviation Consultants LLC, based in Hollywood, S.C., said Tuesday that he could not comment on the appointment until he had received official notification from the selectmen.
A longtime commercial pilot, Mr. Smith has flown biplanes out of Katama for eight years, and has also assisted in the daily functions of the airfield, according to his proposal to the town.
“He is very familiar with the operation out there, and he had really good references,” said Jamie Craig, chairman of the Katama Airfield Commission, which selected Mr. Smith. He also served 13 years as a pilot for Net Jets Aviation Inc., a company that offers rentals and partial ownership of aircrafts.
“He’s trying to refine that to make the airport as friendly as possible to the neighbors,” Mr. Craig said, adding that Mr. Smith’s diplomacy will be an asset when relating to pilots and neighbors.
According to the proposal, Mr. Smith also hopes to turn the airfield into a self-sufficient financial enterprise within 18 months. He wrote that within 24 months, he would like to see the airport contributing to the town. “I believe that a mutually beneficial relationship can be fostered . . .” he wrote in part in the proposal.
His plans include hosting weddings on airfield grounds and returning a portion of net profits of the airport back to the town of Edgartown. He also wants to start a conservation camp.
He projected that gross revenues in the first year would be about $40,600, but would increase to $123,500 in the second year. Gentle Wings will lease the airfield for $6,000 per year.
Mr. Craig said the Right Fork Diner would continue to sublease the restaurant space.
Outgoing manager Michael Creato will continue to operate Classic Aviators, a service offering biplane rides, out of the airfield, Mr. Craig said.
There were two candidates for the position, but only Mr. Smith had aviation experience, Mr. Craig said. The other candidate was Merrill Langley.
At the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, newly appointed airport commissioner Mike Klimek paid tribute to Mr. Creato’s legacy.
“I would also like to thank Mike Creato for his years of service at the airfield from when he was a kid until today,” said Mr. Klimek.