Easton Airport Manager Micah Risher has been elected President of the Maryland Airport Managers Association (MAMA). The association was established in 1996 to provide a medium for the exchange of ideas related to airport management. Members encourage legislation advantageous to airports and work closely with the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), and other aviation organizations, to address and resolve airport issues.
We met with Mr. Risher in his Easton Airport office, a space filled with aerial maps and ongoing projects. His dry erase board is filled with action items, deadlines, and goals for 2022. We asked him about MAMA, what he hopes to achieve during his term as President, and why he would add this as another item on his wall of to-do’s.
What is the Maryland Airport Managers Association’s (MAMA) mission?
MAMA’s mission is to provide a unifying voice on aviation matters in the state of Maryland. We work together to educate the community at-large and our policymakers about the benefits aviation has on all segments of commerce and economic prosperity. Those benefits are felt inside and outside the gates of each Maryland airport. Just the other day I was reading a report that said for every one job directly related to an aviation enterprise, three more jobs exist to support it. That is a huge return on investment. That is the type of information we need to share because airports offer our communities these unique benefits and opportunities.
What roll did you have in MAMA before being elected President?
I served as the Vice President of MAMA for two years. On top of that, I have worked in a variety of aviation rolls over my career that now spans three decades. That experience helped me connect with the airport managers immediately.
Our biggest challenge during my VP term was the pandemic. Every airport had difficulties at first because everything was shutting down. Then things started taking off again and many airports had all new challenges keeping up with demand. Being able to lean on each other to share best practices and get the resources we needed was huge.
Why accept the Presidency of MAMA considering how busy things can be at ESN?
I enjoy being able to tap into and use all of my aviation knowledge and experience. I don’t like to hoard information, I want to share it with others and this role lets me do that. As I mentioned, I have been involved in aviation for many years. I have spent time in operations and airport management, I worked in air traffic control for a number of years, and I even worked at FAA headquarters helping shape policies. I think wearing all those hats helps me see an issue from all perspectives so we can try to approach it with a sound strategy and understanding. It might mean a little more work leading the group, but the payoff is worth it.
What do you think MAMA’s greatest strength is as an organization?
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within this organization. We have members with decades of experience to pull from and some outstanding partners we work with that have their own resources to tap. Airports have many challenges to face as technology, industries, regulations, and society changes. Drones are becoming very popular, electric aircraft technology is developing and requires infrastructure consideration, COVID is still shifting our landscape, and even more changes are sure to come.
Community development around airports is another hot topic for Maryland airports. How do we work with our communities and municipalities to keep our airspaces safe while growing around the economic drivers that many Maryland airport have become? We work with each other to tackle these issues and use our experience, not to keep ourselves grounded in the old ways of doing things, but to evolve responsibly and thoughtfully.
What are your goals for the organization under your leadership?
MAMA can use this moment to regroup and reorganize as we approach the end, hopefully, of this pandemic. It has been a hectic time for many general aviation (GA) airports. We have had to focus a lot of time and energy on COVID all while keeping up with on the day-to-day operations and future needs each airport faces. GA airports still need a lot of support so we need to rise to the challenge and offer them our service by being focused on specific goals and tasks that can benefit the majority of our members. I look to the incoming executive committee to work with me to develop these goals and action items.
What do you think is the most important thing MAMA can do in the next two years?
We need to work closely with our state policymakers to help them understand the importance of GA airports and the positive economic impact they have on our state. We need to take advantage of every opportunity to educate members of the General Assembly and have a place at the table during high-level policy conversations.
Many airports need infrastructure investments to keep them safe and viable. We all read about infrastructure bills, federal funding, and prioritizing transportation. If and when these things come, how do we make sure the airports have access to capital and resources? How can they get shovels in grounds and jobs flowing to support them? These are the items we need to be focusing on and solving in the next few years.
To learn more about the Maryland Airport Managers Association, visit www.marylandairportmanagers.org