ABOUT FLATHEAD MUNICIPAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY
Flathead Municipal Airport Authority (FMAA) is the owner and operator of Glacier Park International Airport. FMAA’s Board of Directors is composed of seven members, each appointed by the Flathead County Commissioners. The Airport Authority functions as an independent public agency and is responsible for numerous responsibilities: immediate and long-range maintenance of the airport premises, management of finances and budgeting, hiring and long-term planning. In addition, FMAA governs all routine aspects of management of the airport facilities, including the terminal building, grounds, and airfield. Aircraft operations, concessions, air traffic control, and security checkpoint operations are all conducted by other organizations.
Under direction of the Board, the airport functions much like a small city. FMAA employs an airport director along with a deputy and administrative staff, fire and police departments, and an experienced, well-trained maintenance wing. Serving together, each of the departments see to critical, specific operations. The fire department provides fire suppression and emergency medical services and is simultaneously responsible for the regular, rigorous inspection of the airfield. Airport police provide general security of airport grounds (excluding duties reserved to TSA and Customs), while the Maintenance staff is responsible for upkeep of the airport’s buildings, grounds, and vehicles. Many crucial tasks fall to them, including runway maintenance, snow removal and other tasks essential to airport safety. Currently FMAA employs a staff of twenty-five dedicated airport professionals. For those pursuing a career in the airport management profession, there is a 6-month Airport Operations internship is available as well.
FMAA also contracts for services critical to airport auxiliary operations (car rentals, parking, amenities, ground transportation, etc.). Finally, in perhaps in its most important non-safety role, the Authority oversees upgrades or expansions to the airport. Through review and implementation of the Airport Master Plan, it is their task to be prepared for the airport’s future.
Serving through its Board and high-quality, professional staff, it is the continuing goal of FMAA to provide a proficient and welcoming airport environment – safely, efficiently, professionally, continuously.
Rob Ratkowski, Airport Director
Rob Ratkowski has airports in his DNA. From childhood memories of riding on the United Airlines employee shuttle with his father at LAX to his current role as Airport Director at Glacier Park International Airport, airports and air travel have always been integral in his life. With 20 years of progressively responsible experience in the airport management industry and a lifetime in aviation, Rob has the background to make a complex organization like Glacier Park International Airport tick.
However, you won’t hear Rob talk about his own accomplishments much. He would rather talk about the staff that powers Glacier Park International Airport. As Airport Director, Rob has a broad responsibility for operations at GPIA, and he is the first to say that his work would not be possible without the committed and talented staff he’s proud to lead. “Kalispell might be a close-knit mountain town but I would put our group of airport professionals against any in the country,” Rob said. “You can rest assured that you’re in good hands when you travel through our airport.”
In addition to a rich background in airport management, Rob is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives and the current past President of the Montana Airport Management Association. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management from the Metropolitan State College of Denver.
Outside of work, Rob serves as a board member for the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, volunteers with his church and enjoys flying recreationally as a private pilot. He and his family spend their free time enjoying many of the outdoor activities that Montana and the Flathead Valley have to offer.
Ian McKay, Airport Deputy Director
Deputy Airport Director Ian McKay’s dedication to GPIA began in the summer of 2011, where he served as the airport’s summer intern. It was during this time he discovered his passion for the aviation industry and worked to return to Kalispell to serve his hometown community. Most importantly, McKay is responsible for the safe, efficient and continuous operation of the airport. His day-to-day roles include maintaining oversight of airport departments, personnel, equipment and the facility.
Hired in 2016, McKay has worked as an aviation planner, an airport planner, and as an operations specialist for the Fort Wayne International Airport. He is a certified pilot and has training in aircraft rescue firefighting, incident command systems, airport security, airport geographic information systems and fraud detection and prevention.
McKay has a Master’s of Science in Aerospace from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor’s degree from Rocky Mountain College in Aviation.
Wesley Long, Fire and Operations Chief
With more than 12 years of experience, Fire and Operations Chief Wesley Long is responsible for the management and mitigation of potential emergencies at Glacier Park International Airport. His work includes security coordination and partnership development with law enforcement and emergency management to implement safety protocols that are effective for, and tailored to, the Kalispell area community. Efforts involve ensuring federal safety compliance, including compliance with the latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Additionally, flights in and out of the Kalispell area operate safely and efficiently during winter weather conditions thanks in large part to Chief Long’s role overseeing and training staff in the implementation of the Snow and Ice Control Plan.
Having spent his career in the military and emergency management, Chief Long opened Disaster Resilience Consulting in 2015 to assist communities and agencies in disaster preparedness. His expertise and certification as an emergency manager provide the airport with innovative industry tactics to maintain the highest level of safety and security.
Beyond duties at GPIA, Chief Long is the chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and serves on the Local Communications Users Group and the Board of Education for the American Association of Airport Executives. He is a doctoral candidate at Capella University and has Master’s degrees in Emergency and Disaster Management and in Homeland Security from American Military University, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Fire Science Administration Management.
Laurie Pein, Office Manager
Office Manager, Laurie Pein, brings more than 30 years of administrative experience to GPIA. Pein has developed a new filing system and has reorganized office procedures to enhance the productivity of airport staff. Whether a bill is to be paid, board meeting minutes are to be taken, or visitors have questions, Pein is at the ready to lend a tenured helping hand.
A certified notary, Pein studied to become a legal administrative assistant at La Grande College of Business and is currently attending Flathead Valley Community College to become a medical transcriptionist.
Outside of her work at the airport, Pein enjoys reading, working in her greenhouse and spending time with her family.
Darin Turner, Director of Maintenance
A jack of all trades, Darin Turner has spent the last decade maintaining GPIA’s grounds, facilities and vehicles. As the Director of Maintenance, Turner ensures the airfield, terminal, shops and tower are running properly and are cleared for takeoff. He and his staff paint runways and taxiways, care for the landscaping, and are tasked with snow removal. During northern Montana snowy months, Turner hires and oversees 25-30 seasonal workers specifically charged with addressing snow.
Having had a longtime interest in aviation, Turner is part of the AAAE, the American Association of Airport Executives. As a member, he attends seminars to continually learn new airport trends and topics to ensure quality airport maintenance at GPIA.
Turner is an avid hunter and angler, enjoying the outdoors, hiking and four-wheeling with his family.