Catalina Island News

Purdue University Interns Greet Pilots

Catalina Island Conservancy

The Aviation Management Program at Purdue University is one of the top programs of its kind in the United States. This summer, the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Airport in the Sky is fortunate to have two summer airport coordinator interns from the university.

Reilly Ashton Meehan and Deborah H. Bae will be in the tower through August 14 with Jorge O'Leary, director of airport operations as their mentor.  Almost 1,000 people fly into Airport in the Sky each month during the summer, not counting those who come up from Avalon on the Conservancy’s Wildlands Express.

“The interns have been a great  addition to our team this summer, said O’Leary. “They greet  pilots and orient them to the Island with things to do and arrange their  transportation.  They also help with bookkeeping,  tracking  airport statistics, attending to ground to air  radio advisories, answering  phones and general  management of the airport.”

“Their enthusiasm for aviation is infectious,” O’Leary added. “Whether you fly into Airport in the Sky or come up on our shuttle, be sure to stop by the tower and say ‘hello’.”

Meehan was born and raised in Indianapolis and lived in the same house her whole life in the suburbs. She doesn’t actually fly – yet. ‘The management program is more about bossing around people who do fly.” She admits that she would like to eventually get her private pilot license “because it’s important to be well rounded in all areas of aviation, especially the whole flying part.”

“One of my long-term goals is to become an airport director for a medium to large hub airport,” she said. “Twenty years from now I’d like to have visited every continent, except maybe Antarctica. I’ll go wherever the wind takes me – hopefully not anywhere cold.”

Bae was born in Seoul, South Korea but was raised in La Mirada, California, and relocated to Fullerton,  where she now calls home. A licensed pilot, she is currently pursuing a masters degree in aviation and aerospace management.

While learning the tricks of the trade at the airport, Bae said she was looking forward to learning more about the Conservancy and its Wildlife. "The Conservancy is very considerate in taking the time to educate us, not only about the Island and its history, but also about its wildlife as well.”

By Bob Rhein