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Growing Kissimmee Gateway Airport gets new director

  • NEWS-GAZETTE PHOTO/CHARLIE REED The 1000-acre airport caters mostly to mid-sized business jets used for private chartered flights but also to small aircraft, some flown by professionals for services such as mapping, others by recreational pilots. About 65,000 aircraft use the airport annually.
    NEWS-GAZETTE PHOTO/CHARLIE REED The 1000-acre airport caters mostly to mid-sized business jets used for private chartered flights but also to small aircraft, some flown by professionals for services such as mapping, others by recreational pilots. About 65,000 aircraft use the airport annually.
  • Shaun J. Germolous
    Shaun J. Germolous
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CITY OF KISSIMMEE

Kissimmee Gateway Airport has a new director of aviation.

He traded snowstorms for hurricanes.

Shaun J. Germolus comes to the city’s municipal airport after 13 years as executive director of the Hibbing-Chilshom Airport Authority in Hibbing, Minn.

He takes the controls from former director Terry Lloyd, who retired last year after 20 years with the city.

He began his career in aviation at the Worthing Municipal Airport in Worthington, Minn., where, at age 23, he became airport manager.

Germolus, now 49, lived on the airport and cut his chops in both management and day-to-day operations there.

“I literally did everything – from housekeeping to runway pavement repair to grass cutting and snow removal. I would go from one extreme to the other on any given day,” he said.

I really value that first job because it gave me the base that I needed for the rest of my career. I can look anyone in the eye today and say ‘I’ve done that. I know what you’re talking about.’ That provided the foundation for my career.”

It was a stepping stone for the Minnesota native, who then went on to manage municipal airports in Roanoke, Va., and Duluth, Minn., home of the lightweight Cirrus Vision jet. During his more than 25 years in the aviation industry, Germolus has worked with commercial airlines, the National Guard, U.S Customs and Border Patrol and seaplanes.

He comes to Kissimmee just as the Kissimmee Gateway Airport is experiencing more traffic.

Air traffic, was up 24 percent from 2018 to 2019. And the air traffic control tower handled 156,927 total operations, up 10 percent over 2018, according to the city. The 1000-acre airport caters mostly to mid-sized business jets used for private chartered flights but also to small aircraft, some flown by professionals for services such as mapping, others by recreational pilots. About 65,000 aircraft use the airport annually. Last year, the airport’s 3 millionth flight arrived at Odyssey Aviation, one of several Fixed-Base Operators, or FBO, at the airport. An FBO is a company contracted to handle airport operations such as fueling, hangar services, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance and flight instruction. Other airport tenants include flight training schools and businesses related to avionics, or aviation electronics. The airport also is home to Kissimmee Air Museum and Warbird Adventures and Stallion 51, a flight operation named after a WWII-era bomber plane.The air-traffic control tower is a non-Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contract tower owned by the city of Kissimmee. Tower operations are controlled by Robinson Aviation. Its employees meet the same qualifications and training requirements as FAA air traffic controllers. The city is trying to bring more tenants to the airport and attract aviation-related manufacturing and business to the industrial park adjacent to it.

The Federal Aviation Administration includes Kissimmee Gateway Airport under its listing for Orlando. But many overlook it, Lloyd said, not realizing how close Kissimmee is to Orlando, Disney World and other Central Florida sites.