This month we speak with Howard Aspey, Airport Administrator, Whyalla City Council.
Howard (pictured right with aviation legends Chuck Yeager and Dick Smith) explains why he was attracted to the job, and the interesting role that airports play in local economic development.
Hi Howard, thanks for speaking with us.
What’s your current role, and what does it involve?
My current role is Airport Administrator. The role involves a very diverse range of duties from all administration (budget preparation and implementation, compliance issues, reporting, parking system management etc.) to pest plant technician, re-fuelling, the list goes on - which makes this role very interesting.
Where were you before and what attracted you to your current role?
My position prior to this was in the parks and garden department. While there I completed an advanced diploma in arboriculture and an advanced certificate in horticulture. I have an interest in remote control helicopters and planes so when the opportunity presented its self to be positioned at the airport, I naturally jumped at it.
What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
I think one of the biggest attractions is that there is such a diverse range of positions within one organisation. Also there is the ability for anyone to gain added skills with the training that is offered.
Speaking about your current role - it's very interesting to many of our readers because not many councils have the responsibility for the local airport. Why do some country regions run the airport? Do you think it has a good synergy with other Council operations? Does it contribute to the council revenue - or is it a cost?
The airport, if marketed properly not only has the potential to bring many thousands of people to the city but also could be seen as an area for good commercial development.
I see the airport as having an important role in bringing in tourists not only into Whyalla, but the whole region, which links up well with Council’s tourist centre. In the times gone by councils took over the airports because state government no longer wanted to run them - but I see that view has changed and councils see airports as an important piece of infrastructure.
Are there any plans for the airport? And how do you see the importance of the role the airport plays in economic development for Whyalla?
The Whyalla airport has only just had a long overdue upgrade. The upgrades consisted of a terminal three times the size of the previous one, new furnishings, an area for a café, upgraded baggage areas, new CCTV system and a new parking management system.
I see the airport playing a role in the economic development of Whyalla not only by bringing more people to the region but also the commercial potential in and around the airport.
You’ve just completed LGMA's PLP – How well do you think these programs have prepared you for a leadership role - and what have you been able to put into practice in your current role?
The PLP program I found very interesting - all the units covered had significance to my position, and this has aided me in creating a more efficient work place
Personally, what’s the longer term plan – where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The aviation industry is an ever changing environment, there is always something new to learn. Coupled with the introduction of new commercial development in and around the Whyalla airport, I hope in 5 years I am still involved in some capacity within the airport.
Do you have an embarrassing “Local Government moment?”
The one that comes to mind is when I was getting ready to go on leave. I was finishing off mowing the edges of our gravel runway close to the drain edge. It had been raining for a few days but seemed hard enough to drive on.
Then 45 minutes before I was ready to finish I bogged the tractor to its axle.
I called the depot to send out a truck to help pull me out but we bogged that too - so then we asked for a large front end loader and…..yep we bogged that as well. Fast running out of machinery, I called a friend who had a grader.
He turned up and one at a time, managed to rescue us from any further embarrassment - but at least I got to hide for a while on holidays.
How do you spend your leisure time outside of Local Government?
I spend a lot of time with my family and now have a grandson who occupies a good deal of our time. My wife and I also enjoy touring in our Stingray Corvette my other passions are restoring cars and photography.