By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald
A local pilot with experience with a commercial airline out West has landed the job as manager of the Mercer County Airport.
Clint Ransom, a native of Raleigh County, and 2004 graduate of Shady Spring High School, started working as the airport manager on Monday, and will get the opportunity to meet the rest of the members of the Airport Authority this morning at 9 a.m. during their monthly meeting.
Ransom, 27, was most recently TSA (Transportation Security Administration) inspector at the Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg, but prior to that, he was a commercial pilot flying Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft for New Mexico Airlines.
“I got laid off in the poor economy out there and came back home to work for Jerry O’Sullivan, the airport manager at the Greenbrier Valley Airport,” Ransom said. “I received letters of recommendation from both Jerry and Tom Cochran, the airport manager at the Raleigh County Airport in Beckley.”
Ransom was drawn to flying at an early age. “I went for my first airplane ride when I was 8 years old,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know that anyone could fly, but I learned that you could.”
After graduating from high school, Ransom attended West Virginia University for one semester. “I was studying to be a lawyer, but I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do.”
He learned that Fairmont State College had some courses in airport management so he enrolled there. “I took classes in airport management, airport design and aviation history. I think those classes will help me in this position.”
Although he has only been on the job a few days, Ransom was already talking about his hopes to get a car show to the airport and perhaps even an air show sometime in the future. “What the airport’s purpose is that we are here for the community,” Ransom said. “One big thing we have here is the Civil Air Patrol. Anyone can join, and the annual fees are inexpensive,” he said.
“One thing I really like about the Civil Air Patrol is that it gets young people an extensive introduction to pilots and aviation,” he said. “They also have a new facility here at the airport and their own aircraft based here. I have talked with Steve Antolini about it, and hope to work with them.”
Ransom and his wife, Brittany, a cosmetologist who works at Harvey’s in Beckley, have one son, Cayden, 3, and another on the way. The Ransoms live in the Daniels-Shady Spring area.
Ransom said that he has survived a lightning strike while piloting a plane. “I was flying in a storm and I was blinded momentarily,” he said. “We landed OK and the passengers were OK, but it put burn spots on the aircraft. It’s not that uncommon for commercial pilots.” He said that commercial pilots must complete more training hours than private pilots, and added that becoming qualified on instrument flying is the most challenging step in the process to qualifying as a commercial pilot.
“I see a lot of potential here at the Mercer County Airport,” Ransom said. “It’s well-equipped, has good lighting for instrument landing and fuel available,” he said. “We just want to expand and bring more pilots and aircraft into the airport.”
— Archer is a reporter at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.