Work at Tallahassee airport puts aviation director in line for state award
[subtitle] TAKING FLIGHT [/subtitle]
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Chris Curry has had a knack for spotting a good opportunity, long before he became Director of Aviation for Tallahassee International Airport.
Take for example when he was fresh out of high school and how he decided to join the Army National Guard. One of the perks of membership was getting a free pass to a monthly party.
It was enough of an incentive for Curry to sign up. He went through basic training with the Army. But he saw a better opportunity when the Air Force sent him a recruiting letter.
He took the offer and quickly developed an interest in becoming an air traffic controller. After a 20-year career in the military, Curry took his talent to Boeing and eventually saw yet another opportunity in aviation management.
For the past two and a half years, Curry has been director of aviation at Tallahassee International Airport. He has put together such an impressive list of initiatives that he is one of the top nominees for an award that goes to the state’s top aviation professional.
So he obviously likes the prospects that he could make the airport in Tallahassee one of the best in the country.
“I’m here because I believe that I can make a difference by elevating the airport,” he said. “If I didn’t believe that I could do that I wouldn’t have come here.”
In the short period of time that he’s been in Tallahassee, Curry has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments. Most notably among them is the recent construction of a new runway last year, renewal of contracts with the TSA and the FAA. He has also been at the head of the line with city commissioner Scott Maddox in courting Jet Blue to begin serving Tallahassee.
Curry’s work has been exceptional in running the day-to-day operations and external relations, Maddox said.
“Chris does an outstanding job running the airport from a management standpoint,” Scott said. “He has been fantastic. He is conscientious and energetic.”
Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets is an intern program that Curry has established with FAMU to introduce business students to opportunities in aviation. The program has been such a success that it’s been recognized nationally.
Curry, 52, also wrote a program for air service enhancement that led to the legislature approving $1 million for service to South Florida.
“Chris believes that Tallahassee is positioned to take the next step on attracting low-cost carries and additional services,” Maddox said, citing his effort in the talks with Jet Blue. “He is a very solid operational voice and can speak to the specifics of operations on the airport.”
As part of his plans to keep airfares down, Curry has encouraged development of a 20-mega watt solar farm on land owned by the airport. Construction could begin in as soon as four months.
Curry said he is driven every day by the potential that he sees for the airport.
“You always want to be in an environment that’s conducive to growth, that the political environment is good to promote that and you have support from the community,” he said. “I think that’s what drives all of us professionally. I’ll be here as long as the environment is conducive to the airport being able to reach a high potential.”
Before getting into the administrative side of aviation 14 years ago, Curry had two stints with Boeing.
That Curry has found success everywhere he’s worked doesn’t surprise Johnny Powell, who has known Curry since childhood.
“He is forward thinking,” said Powell. “He’s connected and he knows how to reach out to the people who could make change. He is a great leader. Not only does he lead, but he teaches people how to lead.
“He loves challenges. That’s our motor. If he can’t figure it out the first time, he is going to do his research. He is going to ask questions. He is not afraid to say I don’t know, but I will find out. He is just a confident man.”