Paul Farris Jr.

Spotlight on the Candidates: IWV Airport Board of Directors

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Paul Farris Jr. “I am not a politician, I serve because I enjoy it and I think I can help make a difference,” said incumbent Paul Farris Jr. “I think we’ve come a long way, and I want to use my experience to help us continue down that road.”

Farris said that IYK is a different place than it was when he first got on the board 12 years ago. “When I first got here, this was basically a commuter service. Since then we’ve redone the terminal, built a fire station, redone the fuel farms and made many runway, taxiway and parking improvements.

“We have come so far in making improvements from top to bottom to make this a more user-friendly airport. Now we have this incredible opportunity to potentially bring in more work in unmanned systems. I think having board members who are already familiar with the work and who have accomplished so much, it makes sense to keep that corporate knowledge intact as we move forward.”

Farris said that in addition to a board that works well together, IYK has also been lucky to have Manager Scott Seymour at the helm. “He has done a fantastic job for this airport, and a lot of the positive things that have happened are a direct result of his vision and efforts.”

Farris said the airport is doing more filming than ever — “you almost can’t watch a car commercial on TV without seeing our mountains in the background” — and in 10 years has gone from almost no reserve to having more than $1 million.

The airport also hosts regular visits from domestic and allied military forces that conduct operations at IYK. “Every time that happens we make money from fuel sales. And they come back because the staff is great to work with.”

One of the main challenges he sees is in negotiating a lower cost for the commuter service out of IYK. “We are already dealing with less travel at China Lake. But the cost is now so high that even the people who are on travel are driving down to LAX,” he said.

“We have got to get the right people from the airlines and the military to talk to each other to work something out.” Securing a lower rate does not just help the airport — which would benefit from a higher volume since it sees a small tax on everybody that gets on a plane at IYK — but would also better serve the community and protect the long-term prospect for maintaining service.

Like many of his fellow candidates, he said that the value and potential of the airport was probably lost on many people. “I think unless you have some connection to the general aviation community, you probably don’t know what an asset the airport is — it’s just not on your radar.”

One way this could be changed is through showcasing the airport with an event like an air show. “There is a benefit to having the community feel the pride of ownership,” said Farris.

“This is one of the gateways to our community, and a potential engine to bring in work and fill up our restaurants and hotels. I think that’s something we can all be proud of.”

Story First Published: 2012-10-03