Monday, December 12th marked the first time in its 70+ year history that the Driggs Airport has a full-time Airport Manager dedicated to overseeing operations.
Meredith Fox became Driggs’s inaugural Airport Manager after completing a tenure at the Glenwood Springs, CO Airport.
The airport began looking for a full-time manager “around a year and a half ago” according to Airport Administrator Lori Kyle.
“It became very obvious as the board evolved that they needed one staff person that would take care of all of the administrative paperwork and facilitate between the board, the FAA, the community, and the ITD,” said Kyle.
Fox was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI to a father who had a passion for aviation. Growing up around her dad’s small plane and two helicopters, Fox initially thought of the time at the hangar as a drag.
“I never wanted anything to do with flying when I was a kid,” said Fox. “Every weekend I had to go to the hangar with my dad, who would take me to work and ride on airplanes,” said Fox.
Fox moved out of Michigan after graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in broadcasting and began working extensively as a radio DJ.
5 years ago Fox’s father passed away from Alzheimer’s which steered Fox to take up his passion for flight as a remembrance.
“In order to honor him, I decided to get my pilot’s license,” said Fox. “That’s kind of how it’s taken me down this whole other avenue, new career, new everything.”
After getting into aviation, Fox got her foot in the door of the industry by working for an FBO (fixed-base operator) in Telluride, CO (the country’s highest elevation passenger-service airport) before becoming Airport Manager in Glenwood Springs.
Fox worked on the side of her role in Glenwood Springs as an on-air personality as well as helping out with film festivals in Colorado, Texas, and Oregon
Fox’s involvement at the Glenwood Springs Airport as its manager began in August of 2021.
Fox has a history of working at high-density altitude/high-elevation airports. Glenwood Springs’ airport lies at an elevation of 5916 feet, and Telluride at just over 9500 feet. Fox has flown often out of both and knows firsthand what comes with the challenge of the elevation.
“It’s like driving on an icy highway, for example. You need the extra space,” said Fox.
Glenwood Springs’ airport has had a turbulent recent history, with community leadership there threatening to remove its runway to install an evacuation route and bridge. The community eventually voted to protect the airport.
“I’m very familiar with a lot of heated discussions and, you know, just trying to figure out the best way to do everything,” said Fox.
Fox left the airport because they could not offer her a full-time position as airport manager, something she will have in Driggs.
“I was just working part-time in Glenwood. They promised me full-time, and I worked for them for over a year, and they never gave me a full-time job. I want a full-time job,” said Fox. “That’s another reason that I came here.”
Her experience in Glenwood Springs, both in terms of dealing with community issues as well as running the airport, was highly valued by Driggs’ airport board.
“Meredith was flexible; she’s got a lot of experience with an airfield. She’s a pilot. She just had a good, strong, background and a very positive, energetic interview,” said Kyle. “She’s been the manager of an airport and has before that had direct experience working on an airport for an FBO.”
Fox has hit the ground running, with Kyle stating that “She’s like a sponge. She just soaks it all up.”
“Every day I keep learning and meeting lots of people and there’s a lot of projects going on. The overall welcomeness that I’ve gotten from everybody has been so spectacular,” said Fox.
The Driggs airport finds itself at a turning point, with a long-anticipated runway shift set to kick off in the next few years while also facing resistance from the Teton Valley community in the form of two ballot initiatives that will be decided in November.
Fox is eager to interface with the community by taking a facts-first approach while navigating these challenges.
“The FAA, they’re on board with all of this because it needs to be done. They want it to be done. It will support our community and make our community safer. I’ll have to get out the right messaging while going out there and describing it so that people understand (the issue instead of, you know, choosing a side,” said Fox.
The public pushback notwithstanding, Fox is eager to be a part of the improvements at the Driggs Airport.
“It makes it more exciting. You get to be a part of it, a part of the future, to create it the way it should be. I’m really on board for making this airport the best that it can be, the safest that it can be as well, said Fox. Shifting this runway to (the newly-acquired) city land must be done.”
Fox has prior experience flying into Driggs during a trip a few years back, and called her fall flight “gorgeous”, a sentiment shared with many of our local pilots.
While Fox is understandably excited to begin her tenure, she is also looking forward to providing the airport with the values she carries with her every day.
“I’m just really excited to be here,” said Fox. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of well-rounded experience out of everything that I’ve gone through. I’m a hard worker. I’m down to earth. I want to hear the people and I want to do the best that I can.”
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