Eileen Shibley

Spotlight on the Candidates: IWV Airport Board of Directors

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Eileen Shibley “I think Inyokern Airport has such untapped potential, and there are so many opportunities for the airport to serve this community and base — and vice versa. I want to be a part of that change.”

Although Eileen Shibley is not a member of the airport board, she is the chair of the committee that has been working for the last nine months to have the airport named as one of the six test sites to integrate unmanned systems into federal airspace.

When she and other board members of the China Lake Alliance heard about the Congressional directive to establish the sites, members considered airports all over the region. “One of the things that became clear after our mini analysis is that the capabilities were already in place to host a UAV community at IYK.”

She said that the effort has been well received by stakeholders and has garnered support from private industry leaders, as well as elected and military officials.

“Our philosophy is to look at this as a business venture. So we started by talking to the people building unmanned systems, and based on their feedback we think we are onto something,” said Shibley.

“There is no doubt in my mind that IYK is a hidden secret that people are just starting to get a better understanding of and appreciation for. Tapping into that will lead to better business for IYK and also a stronger economy in the Indian Wells Valley.”

She credited the existing board and manager not only for the current effort to grow IYK, but also for their foresight in bringing it to the point where it could sustain such an operation.

“So many positive things have happened in the last five years or so — and they deserve recognition for being the agents of that change.”

She said her background in managing the business and marketing aspects of technology gives her a unique set of skills.

“These endeavors are best approached with an entrepreneurial spirit. You have to see the art of the possible before you can go out and attract business. You have to identify what makes your location valuable and recruit industry that is a good match. You have to be a good listener and a good communicator.

“Perhaps most importantly, you have to love change. I don’t think we ever want to settle into the status quo, or we end up missing opportunities. We need to jump in with both feet and run in the direction that technology is taking us.”

One specific accomplishment she shared was putting together the elements of modeling and simulation with testing and evaluation to launch the Integrated Battlespace Arena. “This is still a showpiece on the base.”

That led to other opportunities, including leading a national effort to network facilities of Pax River, Point Mugu and China Lake.

“I don’t have a strong aviation background, but in a way that’s a positive. We have boardmembers who can help us represent the current interests at IYK. But we need to broaden that perspective and look at technologies and procedures that improve service to the entire community,” she said.

“I am really excited to be a part of something that is bigger than me, and I know IYK will play as critical a role in our future as it has in our history.”

Story First Published: 2012-10-03