Thursday, March 29, 2012

Airport authority board hires retired Navy aviator as new director

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute International Airport has a new executive director and director of operations.

On Wednesday night, the airport authority board unanimously approved Bill McKown as the new executive director and Darrel Zeck as director of operations.

McKown is currently airport manager at Archuleta County Airport in Pagosa Springs, Colo., while Zeck is the public affairs director for the city of Terre Haute.

McKown will start by May 1; Zeck will begin his new duties April 16.

“I think with these two individuals, we are putting ourselves in a position to really start moving our airport forward,” said Chris Doll, airport board president.
McKown will be paid $95,000 per year.

He is a retired U.S. Navy captain and was a naval aviator. He has about 6,000 flight hours and 1,000 carrier landings.

He was a former air boss of the aircraft carriers USS Kittyhawk and USS Independence.

McKown has spent four years at Archuleta County Airport. “He brings a lot of leadership experience,” Doll said.

Zeck will be paid $75,000 in his new role.

Doll said there were 68 applications for the executive director position, which eventually was narrowed to 11, then four, then two — McKown and Zeck.

Earlier this month, Dennis Wiss resigned as the airport’s director of operations for personal reasons. That left both positions open, Doll said.

When the search for executive director came down to McKown and Zeck, a search committee believed that if they hired both, “We’d have the best of both worlds,” Doll said. “Both had wonderful attributes we thought would be great for the airport.”

Doll said they checked with the airport attorney to make sure it checked out from a legal standpoint, and on Wednesday the airport board hired both.

He noted that the search for an executive director could be considered “global,” with some of the applications coming from overseas.


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