(Gillette, WY) – The Wyoming Airports Coalition recognized several individuals and airports that represent the very best in Wyoming aviation at its recent annual conference in Gillette, Wyoming. Recognition included the Aviation Achievement Award, Project of the Year Award, Airport Executive of the Year Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Aviation Achievement Award is presented to individuals who have given substantial effort towards the promotion, operation, maintenance, and development of aviation in their community or across the state. This year’s award was given to Paul Griffin of Riverton, Wyoming. Paul serves as the Airport Division Manager for Central Wyoming Regional Airport and is responsible for all aspects of the airport’s operations. His passion for aviation began early in life when as a young man he worked alongside his father and brothers to build a BD-4 experimental plane. He later joined the army and served 16 distinguished years flying helicopters. From there he returned to Fremont County and began a career at Riverton Regional Airport. Twenty-eight years later, it is easy to identify Paul as the unsung, steady influence pushing the airport towards success.
The Project of the Year Award is awarded to a single project that demonstrates innovative design, significant planning community involvement, a unique funding model, and a game-changing improvement to the airport. This year’s recipient was Sheridan County Airport for their terminal expansion project. The project completely renovated the current airline ticket counter spaces as well as the baggage claim areas. It also provided a baggage handling garage large enough for commercial airlines to operate from one garage for incoming and outgoing baggage. The terminal building at Sheridan County Airport was originally constructed in the 1940s and has now been expanded seven times. This last expansion really focused on passenger traffic through the terminal for incoming and outgoing passengers as the airport’s enplanements have grown from roughly 10,000 in 2019 to over 27,000 in 2022. Morrison-Maierle & QC10 Architects worked to redesign the existing spaces and Dick Anderson Construction served as construction manager.
The Airport Executive of the Year Award is presented to an airport executive for their dedication and contribution to aviation through the operation and development of their airport, or for their significant participation in the aviation industry. This year’s award was presented to Royce Thompson of Lusk, Wyoming. Royce is the Airport Manager for the Lusk Municipal Airport. He maintains an excellent working relationship with aviation users and the community to grow and promote the use of his airport. He works weekends, nights, and after hours to service pilots and tenants in their time of need. Over Royce’s tenure as Airport Manager he has overseen the installation of self-service fueling facilities, new hangars, and a new terminal building. While Lusk is a smaller, general aviation airport, it is critical to the area ranching operations to oversee cattle production, the Wyoming Women’s Center, and Burlington Northern Railroad coal line transportation system. Without the airport, many of these and other community operations could not be maintained.
In recognition of more than 35 years of aviation industry leadership, Cheryl Bean was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award represents the Coalition’s highest recognition and is given to an individual who has spent a significant amount of their career pursuing the improvement of aviation throughout the State of Wyoming. This recognition requires unanimous support from the Board of Directors and must be awarded to someone with over twenty years of service in the Wyoming aviation industry. Cheryl spent the majority of her career as a public servant in the Aeronautics Division of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. She specialized in improving airport infrastructure while being fiscally responsible. Cheryl built coalitions of trust between airport communities, WYDOT, and the FAA to build programs that have become the envy of other states. Her impact can been seen by merely gazing on the vast expanse of airport pavement across the state and realizing that Wyoming has some of the best airport pavement conditions in the nation. Cheryl was instrumental in the development of the statewide pavement management program, the Wyoming Aviation Capital Improvement Program, the Priority Rating Model for project applications, and many WYDOT policies and procedures.