Los Alamos County Airport Manager David Ploeger is closing the door Nov. 30 on his 45-year career in aviation. He will officially retire on this day although Ploeger’s last day on the job is Oct. 6.
Ploeger has worked a total of seven years in the County. Ploeger moved to Los Alamos County in 2005 and worked as the airport’s manager from 2005-2009. Then Gov. Bill Richardson appointed him director of Aviation for the state.
Ploeger worked in that position for 15 months before working at Delta Airport Consultants in its Albuquerque office. When former Airport Manager Peter Soderquist retired, Ploeger decided to re-apply for the County position and came back to work for Los Alamos in 2014.
During his time with the County, Ploeger said he is most proud of the improvements that have been made to the airport.
“The improvements we made to the airport are the real highlights,” he said.
These capital projects include extending the airport runway, constructing pads for the new County-owned hangars and just general cleaning up such as brush removal.
“We accomplished some major steps forward and I’m pleased with that,” Ploeger said.
The airport also has hosted some notable individuals including former President Bill Clinton and a Secretary of Defense.
“We had so many good things happen at this airport,” Ploeger said.
Other notable visitors were not people but the planes themselves. Ploeger said an Osprey landed twice at the airport. But the best part of the job is working with the airport’s regular tenants and users, he said.
“My favorite part of the job is getting to know the pilots and interacting with the pilots and the airplane owners … it’s just fun being around them,” he said. “I’m going to miss the flying and being around the planes and the pilots as much.”
Ploeger has had several personal highlights in his career. He was awarded Airport Manager of the Year during the Annual State Aviation Conference May 11 in Ruidoso. Additionally, he served as president of the New Mexico Airport Managers Association and serves on its Board of Directors.
Ploeger has spent his entire career in aviation. Starting in 1972 when he served in the U.S. Navy as a naval flight officer.
“I’ve been in aviation in one way or another ever since,” he said.
When he retired from the Navy, Ploeger became an airport manager in Virginia. He also got his pilot’s license in Virginia. While Ploeger is retiring as an airport manager he said he is happily stepping into his new job: being a grandfather.
“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.