Flying South & Splashing Down in Tavares, Florida; America’s Seaplane City!

I am extremely excited to share with everyone that I will be moving to Florida to become the Aviation Manager for the City of Tavares. While I have always wanted to be an “airport manager”, this opportunity is well aligned with that desire and who I am. More on that in a bit…

beautiful

The seaplane base in Tavares is a beautiful piece of the aviation world…

 

About 16 months ago I shared a post called, A Change of Scenery… After growing up from student pilot to assistant airport manager and flight instructor, I announced I was moving on from KING Aviation-Mansfield at the Mansfield Municipal Airport to become the assistant airport manager at New Bedford Regional Airport. This was a move I was thrilled to make and it has proven to be the right choice!

I greatly enjoy working at EWB, the airport serving a city and a region with a vision of moving forward and being better. It is with mixed emotions that I share the news of my departure from EWB. We have accomplished a lot over the past 16 months at New Bedford and the airport is in prime position for the future. I am sure with Erick’s vision, EWB will continue on its upward and forward course!

Final

Landing at EWB after leaving 1B9, was a great experience for me! …Of course when I did land at EWB, this runway was being ripped up, the new Runway 5/23 took shape once I arrived.

 

The move to EWB from “my” airport (Mansfield, or “Matt’s Field” as it was called by some of my friends) was the right move; I’ve learned a lot and have certainly grew professionally. The entire EWB staff and community are first class, a close-knit bunch with a shared desire to advance the airport and aviation in the region!

I applied for the job in Tavares because the job posting seemed perfect… An aviation management post that is part of a city’s economic development staff overseeing a seaplane base. With my passion for aviation and interests in business development and floatplanes, we had a winner. Those who know me, know I’m not a huge fan of heat and I weighed this in my decision to move south… However, we did just have a historically bad winter and there is a projection for the next to be worse!

Not long ago, I arrived in Tavares for an in-person interview and was quickly impressed by the city. A drive down Main Street felt more like entering a company or college campus than a city. To me, this spoke volumes to the strong community of Tavares. I parked my rental car after driving aimlessly through downtown and some neighborhoods, impressed by what I had seen so far. I grabbed my digital camera, always one for a good picture, and walked a few blocks to the County Court House, a very picturesque building.

Lake County Court House in Tavares, FL

Lake County Court House in Tavares, FL

 

Then I walked down to Wooton Park, I walked by the Splash Park and the Pavilion on the Lake. After that, I followed the park paths back towards the seaplane base. Imagine my surprise when I found something amazing, the base struck a beautiful balance between a picturesque resort and an FAA regulated facility. The first time I stood at the seaplane base and looked around I remember thinking, “Wow, this seems like something literally out of my dreams!”

Photo Aug 31, 4 35 52 PM

 

Sitting on the water/walkway was the historic replica of the Woodlea House, a wood-construction building housing the Jones Brothers flight operation/school and the City’s Prop Shop, their Fixed Base Operation (FBO). The Prop Shop is essentially a pro shop for the City of Tavares; if you’re a golfer you know what I mean. I bought a can of Coca Cola, ironically it said “Dreamer” on it, which was exactly what I was at the time, a dreamer of my future in this amazing place. I also purchased a floating key chain with the city’s logo and a postcard to mail to myself (a collecting hobby of mine).

I walked the length of the seaplane base and out onto one of the docks, I wanted to see, feel and live the place before I sat down to interview… I firmly believe this served me well in the interview. That and having done research on the city so that I could be prepared to ask meaningful questions, citing the city’s current budget, a public document which would impact my intended future role greatly. The interview in Tavares was an amazing experience, it was actually quite motivating and I definitely left with a smile! I took the long way out of town to get a better feel for it, hoping this wouldn’t my final visit to Tavares!

By the end of that same week I received notice from Tavares that I was “their candidate”! It was a whirlwind experience and I wouldn’t want it to have unfolded any other way!

As I depart New Bedford Regional Airport, I am thrilled with what we have accomplished and excited for the future of the airport, as some of our projects were just getting going. We accomplished a great deal: Completed a $13 million runway reconstruction, undertook a massive multiple-month long clearing and mowing effort, created a new landing fee structure based on the cooperative effort of airport stakeholders and brought the airport to the next level with targeted marketing and business development, resulting in a significant increase in corporate jet traffic when compared to the previous year (61% increase form September 2014 to September 2015). I look forward to seeing the results of these efforts and the ingenuity of the entire airport community from afar for years into the future.

Cool look

The September 2014 to September 2015, 61% increase in jet operations included this beautiful Gulfstream 650. This was the first ever G650 to visit EWB!

 

Just as when I moved from Mansfield to New Bedford, I plan to continue operating ReviewBeforeFlight from Florida… Some of the posts may take a slightly different direction, but I fully intend to continue writing, editing and operating RBF well into the future! With our great group of writers I am confident we will keep a feeling of the New England charm as well, except now we’ll also have some tropical Florida in the mix!

Lastly, if you’re in the lakes region of Florida, make sure you stop by America’s Seaplane City to visit and check it out, I know you’ll enjoy it! If you’re flying around with some floats hanging around under you, make sure you splash in to say hello!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9

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