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"RIVERSIDE: Airport manager stretching his wings"



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIVERSIDE: Airport manager stretching his wings
Kim Ellis announces plans to expand Riverside Municipal Airport, increase
activity on the runway. 
BY STEPHEN WALL
The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise
 

When he was 14, Kim Ellis went behind his parents' backs and spent the $20
he had in his pocket for a helicopter ride at the Iowa State Fair.
 
He's been hooked on flying ever since.
 
"There was a freedom to it . just being up and being able to see
everything," he said.
 
Now 59 and living in Moreno Valley, Ellis has spent more than a quarter of a
century in the aviation industry, the bulk of it in management at Ontario
International Airport. Ellis retired from his job at Los Angeles World
Airports on June 27. Three days later, he took the helm as manager of
Riverside Municipal Airport. His salary is $100,000 per year.
 
Ellis holds the position previously occupied by Mark Ripley, who retired in
April. 
 
"This airport has potential," Ellis said recently from his second-floor
office overlooking the runaway. "One of the reasons I was brought in was to
help the airport move to its next level."
 
His goal is to develop the city-owned and -operated airport in modest steps.
That includes working with two tenants who want to expand by adding ramp
space and hangars on the west end. The project tentatively calls for 20 to
40 hangars to be built.
 
An additional nine hangars are moving to Riverside from the
soon-to-be-closed Rialto Municipal Airport. The Riverside airport currently
has 160 hangars, all of them occupied. A dozen people are on a waiting list
for hangar space, he said. 
 
To accommodate future development on the east side, the airport is working
with Southern California Gas Company to move a pipeline at the end of the
runway. Other projects include minor pavement repairs phased in over several
years, he said.
 
"We're not just going to do this explosive growth," Ellis said. "They're not
going to see Southwest in here. They're not going to see United in here.
That's not the type of growth we're talking about. It will be a growth
they're able to live with."
 
Flight activity at the airport has picked up in recent years as the economy
has rebounded, he said. The airport expects 100,000 takeoffs or landings
this year, nearly double a 10-year low of 53,677 operations in 2007.
 
Ellis said he's working with other city departments to develop a marketing
plan to encourage general aviation fliers and corporate jet owners to stop
in Riverside instead of surrounding airports. The Riverside airport provided
an estimated $44.8 million economic benefit to the local economy in 2008,
the most recent year the city has figures. 
 
"My objective is to get all those pilots who are flying past us to stop
here, buy some gas, spend the night in a local hotel, visit the Mission Inn
(and) visit the theaters," he said.
 
Tenants say they are hopeful Ellis will continue the success provided by
Ripley.
 
"The airport has good momentum, and it's moving in the right direction,"
said Chad Davies, owner of Riverside Air Service, a fixed-base operator
under contract with the city to provide fueling and maintenance services.
The business also has hangar and tie-down space for general aviation pilots
and corporate fliers.
 
Davies said he has expansion plans that include two executive-style hangars
for corporate jets to be built in coming months. A range of smaller hangars
for private planes and larger hangars for aviation businesses also will be
built next year, he said.
 
Another tenant, Waypoint Aviation Maintenance, has quadrupled its sales of
aircraft parts and supplies since moving to the airport three years ago,
said Richard Matano, the company's director of maintenance.
 
In the next few years, the company plans to demolish its facility and
construct a building about twice as large as the current 9,000-square-foot
structure, he said.
 
"The economy of the airport is growing," Matano said. "The use of the
airport is picking up. The easiest thing (Ellis) can do is don't increase
any current leases or add additional regulations."

Kim Ellis

AGE: 59

RESIDENCE: Moreno Valley

FAMILY: Wife, April; 6 kids

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in aviation management from Southern Illinois
University; Master of Business Administration in aviation from Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University

CAREER: Worked 26 years for Los Angeles World Airports before retiring June
27; served in the Marine Corps from 1973 to 1985.

NOTABLE: Became manager of Riverside Municipal Airport June 30

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