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Florida DOT Recognizes Outstanding Aviation Achievements

Each year the Florida Department of Transportation recognizes aviation professionals in their state for outstanding achievements.  Based on nominations, the Department recognizes superior achievement in five categories and one category which recognizes colleagues who served the aviation community throughout their career.  Those categories include, General Aviation Airport Project of the Year, Commercial Service Airport Project of the Year, General Aviation Airport of the Year, Commercial Service Airport of the Year, Distinguished Aviation Service Award, and the Aviation Professional of the Year.

According to Aaron Smith, State Aviation Office manager, one of the most rewarding challenges they have in the aviation office is to recognize the successes of their aviation partners in each category from the many outstanding nominations. “Our descriptions do not adequately describe the amazing and compelling details contained in these nominations.”

The 2018 General Aviation Airport Project of the Year, went to the Air Traffic Control Tower at Destin Executive Airport. The consultant was RS&H, Inc. and the contractor was Environmental Management Resources, Inc.

The need for the Destin Executive Airport Air Traffic Control Tower was to improve safety for pilots using Destin Executive Airport and Eglin Air Force Base Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.  Eglin AFB is a heavily used facility handling high volumes of both military and commercial jets and the airspace is among the most complex in the United States.  Restricted airspace and military operations areas cover a large swath of northwest Florida to the north, east, and west of Destin Executive.

The winner of the 2018 Commercial Service Airport Project of the Year was the Intermodal Terminal Facility at Orlando International Airport. The consultants were HKS Architects, Inc., Schenkel & Shultz, Inc., Hensel Phelps and Turner-Kiewit Joint Venture. The Intermodal Terminal Facility complex at Orlando International Airport provides the ability to centralize passenger air, ground and rail transportation, connecting the Central Florida community on a local, regional, state, national and global level.  The design and master planning for this facility sought the integration of these complex transportation systems into a seamless connectivity for passengers to easily move from one mode to another, conveniently through tranquil terminal spaces filled with light and interior landscape, reflective of the Central Florida region.  The ITF consists of approximately 1.3 million square feet of airport passenger terminal space accommodating an Automated People Mover system connecting the South Airport and future South Terminal Complex facilities to the existing facilities located in the North Terminal, and up to 3 additional passenger mass transit systems including a regional rail system such as SunRail, a high speed intercity rail system such as Brightline, and a light rail system serving the International Drive/Orange County Convention Center area.  The ITF will also support taxis, shuttle buses and public bus operations

The 2018 General Aviation Airport of the Year was awarded to the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. Its proximity to MIA, downtown Miami, Miami Beach, and Hard Rock Stadium makes Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport the desired general aviation airport for jet flights into northern Miami-Dade County.  It is also the largest of Miami-Dade County’s four GA airports.

The airport saw annual flight operations increased 1.5 percent to over 136,000 in 2017.  The airport offers 3 full-service fixed-base operator facilities for jet service, a U.S. Customs & Border Protection office, the busiest Coast Guard Rescue station in the U.S., along with Miami-Dade Police and Air Rescue helicopter operations.  The airport continues to strengthen safety for the public by adopting strict enforcement of the Self Inspection programs, ensuring that airport standards are not only maintained but increased.  The airport continues to be a secure airport in which to operate through the development of security programs which include the enforcement of ID requirements, video surveillance, AOA fence strengthening, and continual active surveillance.

Management continues to work closely with the tenants and the flying public through quarterly meetings that address developing issues and concerns; and work closely with US Customs and Border Patrol to ensure that the traveling public has a positive experience when clearing Customs.

Additionally, the airport supports programs that introduces and educates children into aviation.  The airport has hosted the South Florida Air Expo for five years, introducing school children into aviation through discovery flights, aviation camps, pilot competitions, and career fairs.

The 2018 Commercial Service Airport of the Year award went to the Tallahassee International Airport. The Tallahassee International Airport is dedicated to service excellence in every facet of its operations.  Tallahassee International has made immeasurable contributions that have dramatically improved its image and over-all performance.  Notable airfield accomplishments include a finding of “Zero Discrepancies” in its annual FAA Certification/Safety inspection, being awarded the “FAA Safety Mark of Distinction”, and participation in two FAA Safety Management Systems Pilot Studies.  Recent upgrades include a new fire alarm system and a commitment of over 3 million dollars for Security Improvements.

The Terminal Rehabilitation Project has completely changed the passenger experience.  This project and other customer-centric improvements include updated Airline ticket and rental car counters, and Terrazzo flooring.  The airport is working to improve access and aesthetics.  This includes Access and Realignment Projects which will enhance airport access along major corridors, landscaping reflective of the area’s famed canopy roads, and a Rental Car Quick Turnaround Facility and Parking Garage project.

Tallahassee ’s Customer Service and Internship Programs help augment staff and contribute to the community.  Programs include a New Visitor Information Center, 25 Airport Ambassadors, and Collegiate and Youth internship programs.  Tallahassee International is self-sustaining and optimizes resources to improve financial stability.  Efforts include: a Future International Passenger Processing Facility and Foreign Trade Zone, a 20 megawatt solar farm with plans for a 40 megawatt solar farm, and collaborating with local and state officials on incentive programs for targeted industries.

The 2018 Distinguished Aviation Service Award was presented to Deborah T. Marino – Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority. Ms. Marino began her career at the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority with an Administrative support role, but she rose quickly through the ranks and moved into Operations, spending 12 years in Airside Operations, focusing on training and safety.  Ms. Marino is a goal-oriented, safety-driven professional who worked at personal improvement and professional development for those she supervised. Ms. Marino became an Airport Certified Employee by completing the program while managing a fulltime work schedule and is someone who truly considers her teammates as she would her own family.

Due to her industry knowledge and experience, Ms. Marino has served on four panels in Washington D.C. with the Airport Cooperative Research Program through the U.S. Transportation Research Board.  There were many times her achievements were acknowledged by her peers including her selection as Employee of the Year for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.  She also served as a Steering Committee member for the East Central Continuing Florida Aviation System Planning Process Metropolitan Area Committee.

By the time Ms. Marino joined the Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority she had already enjoyed a remarkable aviation career spanning nearly 2 decades.  Since joining the Authority, she has become an integral part of the team and will be sorely missed when she retires after 7 years with the Authority in September 2018 from her post as Operations Manager for 3 airports and over 25 years in the aviation industry.

The 2018 Aviation Professional of the Year, went to Clifford Graham – Melbourne International Airport. Since 1995, Clifford Graham has moved up through the ranks at Melbourne International Airport, now leading the largest department of more than 40 employees.  Mr. Graham oversees the Part 139 FAA inspections, earning 6 consecutive years of the coveted “no discrepancies” rating.

During the last 2 years, Mr. Graham has supervised more than 139 million dollars in capital improvements, including the complete rehabilitation of all 3 runways, a new air traffic control tower, a fully upgraded Federal Inspection Station, and phase 1 of the airport’s Terminal Transformation project.  In addition, major tenant construction is ongoing including Northrop Grumman’s 500 million dollar infrastructure expansion airside to accommodate the B-21 Raider program. “Safety” is Cliff Graham’s favorite word and guides every decision he makes, working around the clock to ensure the safety of commercial, general aviation, construction, and tenant operations.

Mr. Graham takes every opportunity to showcase the airport, such as hosting 20,000 citizens in the Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul facility with just 3 days’ notice; grand openings of tenant facilities, runway dedications, and, his favorite: hosting Air Force One for the first visit to Melbourne International in three decades.  And when Executive Director Donovan scheduled two air shows within 6 months, Graham conducted exceptional planning which resulted in back-to-back incident-free international air shows.  Graham has now led a total of 5 flawless shows, hosting world-famous teams such as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Categories: News
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