New Manager, Flight Instructor Look to Take Jacksonville Airport to Next Level

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 21, 2021 at 6:16pm

The Jacksonville Municipal Airport has a familiar face as the new manager. Chastin Saxer is returning to the airport as manager after leaving the post in October of last year.

Chairman of the Jacksonville Airport Authority Board of Commissioners, Tim Heady says Saxer had been with the airport for approximately 20 years, serving the last 14 as manager.

In October Saxer left to pursue a new career opportunity Heady says after a couple of months though, Saxer found the new position was not a good fit for him and he stated started to miss the airport. Heady says the size of the Jacksonville airport calls for some special requirements to manage.

Managing an airport the size of Jacksonville requires a very unique skill set. Because with the size of our airport, the manager is involved with everything from maintenance to capital improvement projects, to F.A.A. Compliance, along with the day to day operations. So obviously Chastin’s skill set was exactly what we needed, so that’s the reason we decided to rehire Chastin as the airport manager.”

Heady says Saxer’s desire to return coupled with the fact that he consistently did an outstanding job in the past made for an easy decision for the Board of Commissioners. Heady says Saxer will need to hit the ground running again as the airport has some big projects on the horizon.

The first of the three projects we are taking on is the replacement of all the lights on the runway this summer. And then the following year, we will be building a new row of hangers that will be for rent to any prospective pilots out there. And then the third year we are going to completely remodel our terminal building, which is essentially the airport office. So Chastin is going to be dealing with those three things.”

Heady says another facet of the airport got a big boost within the last month when Alex Helmich was hired as a full-time Flight Instructor. Heady says the Board feels Helmich will be a good fit in the role beyond his qualifications as an instructor, and that he might just stick around for a while.

Alex is a veteran of the Army. He was a diesel mechanic in the Army and then when he got out, he went to Liberty University. He learned how to fly and fortunately for us he’s from here, his wife is as well and they have family all over the place here. So they wanted to move back and be close to family. So we reaped the benefits by having an excellent flight instructor basically fall in our lap. So we are really excited about the hometown ties because a lot of times the flight instructors we get are young guys. And as soon as they get enough hours, they are moving on to the next stage of flight instruction, or commercial pilot, or things like that. Where Alex is just looking to come back home and stay a while so we are happy to have him.”

Heady says both Saxer and Helmich will both be taking on the challenge of getting the flight instruction program back up to full speed. Heady says Saxer’s hiring at the Tuesday special meeting was effective immediately.