At the heart of Hancock County is one thing: the community. The people who make up the community are unique and diverse in interests, backgrounds, and stories. Over the next few months we will be highlighting members of the community that you may see behind a shop counter, at an event, or in the grocery store. This month we will be featuring Matt McVicker, the manager of the Findlay Airport!
When you think of the first face a Findlay visitor sees, you may think of a hotel receptionist, a waitress, possibly even a Dietsch’s employee. But for hundreds of visitors each year the first face greeting them is Matt McVicker, the manager of the Findlay Airport. Matt is a Northwest Ohio native and his love for planes has existed since his childhood; the father of his best friend growing up was a pilot and the boys were fascinated with flying. From then on Matt knew he wanted to be around planes for the rest of his life. Matt gained his pilot’s license in high school and initially thought he wanted to be a professional pilot. But after enrolling at Bowling Green State University’s Aviation program he decided to major in Aviation Management. While in school, and then after, Matt worked at the Wood County Regional Airport before the job opportunity at the Findlay Airport came available. Matt felt that it was a perfect fit and hasn’t looked back since.
As the manager of the Findlay Airport, Matt is a jack of all trades. He and his team take care of all the details of the airport, on any given day you may see Matt on the news talking about an upcoming event in the morning and then mowing in the afternoon – whatever it takes to keep the airport up and running. Although the organization is small, it has a big footprint on the economy of the community, much larger than most people would think. On a daily basis Matt can see any type of visitors, from a corporate plane with high level executives to someone popping in with their grandkids for some Dietsch’s ice cream. The airport is a public facility owned by the City of Findlay and, while it may appear at first glance that the airport is just for corporations to use, the reality is that anyone can use it. While over 25 businesses do use the airport on a regular basis, there are also many private pilots that use the facility as well. Matt shared that flying as a hobby is more popular in Northwest Ohio than many realize, and the airport is open for them to use as well. There is a fuel station as well as hangers that are available to rent that anyone can use.
Something that Matt really stresses is that the airport is a public facility. And to showcase the facility Matt has made it a priority in the last three years to invite the public in and to see the airport. While the airport is open 24/7 year-round and anyone can visit, as long as they stay in the safe areas, Matt put together the first Findlay Air Expo in September of 2015, to invite even more visitors to see and experience the Findlay Airport. The second annual Findlay Air Expo is around the corner, with this year’s Expo is taking place Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Findlay Airport. This year’s theme is “Honoring our Aerial Military Yesterday and Today”. The Expo will have about 13 different planes providing up close observation and flight demonstrations, including a P-51D Mustang, an American long-range, single-seat fighter-bomber, Lake Erie War Birds with its Findlay High School graduate owner, Charlie Cartledge, and a C-47 “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. There will also be booths from many organizations in the community, including the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center (who assisted with the first Findlay Air Expo and have a Tuskegee Airmen display!), Flag City Honor Flight, Findlay Flying Circuits, Sky’s the Limit Flying Club, and many, many more. In addition, there will be aircraft tours available, as well as rides available to purchase. If you are interested in purchasing a flight, it is recommended you register ahead of time, however flights will be available for purchase the day of as well. It is important to note, that due to a lack of parking availability, visitors are asked to park at The Cube, and a free shuttle service will provide transportation to the airport. Handicap parking and pick-up/drop-off will be available onsite.
Matt’s passion for his job and for aviation is clear when speaking with him, but he is also an avid supporter of those also wanting to pursue a similar career. Matt is currently serving as the President of the BGSU Aviation Studies Advisory Board, he is also on the Board of the Ohio Aviation Association and plays a leadership role in the Spring Green Educational Foundation out of Toledo. But when his feet and mind are planted on the ground he enjoys spending time with his wife, Haley, who is a teacher at Liberty Benton, and his children, three year old Isla and three month old Killian. Matt says they enjoy doing anything that is kid-friendly, so spending time at the parks is always popular, as is ArtWalk. But when a babysitter is found he and his wife love to have date night at Stix. Something that Matt has really enjoyed is learning from the other men on his team at the airport, and hearing their stories of Findlay. His favorite bit of Findlay lore is that the elevation changes are so great that if you stand on the furthest end of North Main Street you are at the same height as the top of the county courthouse Downtown!
While the upcoming Findlay Air Expo is definitely what Matt is most looking forward to, he wants the airport to become a resource for community members. He encourages anyone who wants to visit to do so and to reach out, chat with him, and ask any questions you may have!
You can find Matt at the Findlay Airport, 1615 Gray Street, during the business hours of 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and at the Findlay Air Expo: Honoring our Aerial Military Yesterday and Today, Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Don’t forget to park at The Cube!
Don’t miss out on other community members we have highlighted through the community spotlight series! Now that the weather is nice, don’t cook – eat out! Find out the best places to get a burger or pizza, celebrate the weekend by checking out one of these great places for live music, or take advantage of one of the many great events taking place!