Airfield Maintenance keeps The Ohio State University Airport running in all seasons

Posted: September 14, 2021
Image of four men standing with tree limbs and logs in front of a building
Andy Crockett, Kevin Stubbs, Ryan Goddard and Nick Engle remove tree limbs and logs from a dying tree in front of the Aerospace Research Center

Punctuated by freshly painted runway markings, acres of cut grass and snow-free taxiways, the work done by the Airfield Maintenance team aims for safety across The Ohio State University Airport. Working behind the scenes, the multitalented team carries out the tasks essential for Don Scott Field to function as one of Ohio’s busiest airfields.

What does Airfield Maintenance do? “Boy, that’s the $64,000 question,” says Dale Gelter, assistant director of airfield operations at the airport.

On any given day, the crew can be seen mowing the grass, painting the runway markings, sealing cracks in the pavement or inspecting every square inch of the grounds to make sure the airport complies with the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety protocols.

When snow piles up on the runways in the winter, the team often works through the night to remove it all. “We’re working around the clock,” Gelter says, “and it’s nice to hear people say, ‘wow, you guys got it all clear; thank you!’ So that's very rewarding.”

Image of a man flying a quadcopter drone
Dale Gelter uses drones to assist in performing precision airfield safety tasks

Not only is the crew in charge of maintaining the airfield itself, they also manage the facilities and make sure that the airport complies with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 139 safety regulations. From providing keys to the hangars to conducting countless safety inspections, Airfield Maintenance keeps the airport running.

The 12-person Airfield Maintenance team not only includes those from an aviation background, like Gelter, but also comprises staff with a variety of experiences. Skills such as automotive mechanics, plumbing and welding all bring critical knowledge to the team. Whenever there’s a construction project that needs fresh concrete, Gelter will call on the team member who has the most experience with masonry to fix the problem. “We feed off each other’s strengths,” Gelter remarks.

Gelter himself has plenty of his own responsibilities. “I oversee FAA inspections, required recordkeeping, training of staff members and filing of applications and supporting documents for things like equipment grants to new construction projects,” he lists.

Despite the piles of paperwork that have become a constant in his agenda, Gelter enjoys the work. He’s been with the airport for over 30 years, and what’s kept him here is the people. “We’re like an extended family,” he says, reflecting on the relationships within his team. “We’ve built a strong team, and we get along really well.”

by Beck Schulz, professional writing intern

Image of a man in a lift truck basket with a building roof in the background
Using a lift basket is all in a day's work for Bill Dodge.
Image of a large snowblower vehicle throwing snow
Wintertime demands an extensive set of skills – a combination of science and art, according to Gelter, who is driving the snowblower.
Image of a large lawn mower tractor mowing the airfield
FAA regulations specify the length of grass for the airfield. Here, Dan Laffey mows between the runways and taxiways.
Categories: PersonnelOutreach