Flying Higher: Dream career pathway launched from Huntingburg

Flying Higher: Dream career pathway launched from Huntingburg

Colin Smith, a double major (Aviation Management & Unmanned Systems) graduate of Indiana State University, has created excitement at two southern Indiana regional airports.

Huntingburg Regional Airport was home to the Holland native and Southridge High School graduate for the summer as the intern working hand-in-hand with the airport staff.

Smith applied for the mentorship/internship program in April of 2022, to experience the airport’s daily operations and to gain practical hands-on knowledge.

Huntingburg has an established CTE (Career Technical Education) STEM program partnership through Patoka Valley Career and Technical Cooperative, where regional high school students can participate in the internship designed to introduce candidates to aviation career opportunities.

“Smith did everything we do here, including small things overlooked by college graduates like cleaning restrooms and push mowing grass,” Travis McQueen, Huntingburg manager, advised. “He showed progressive leadership by getting those jobs done, and single-handily responded to a disabled jet aircraft at another airport (Orange County), helped get it back in the air, by applying his newfound experiences and skills!”

After a statewide search, gaining on-the-job training, and receiving written recommendations from INDOT Manager Martin Blake and McQueen, the Seymour Airport Authority hired Smith as the new Seymour Airport Manager (Jackson County). He stepped into the new role on Wednesday, October 26.

“You can take what you learned in college, now forget it; this is how things get done,” said Andy Kippenbrock, a 19-year veteran airport employee who walked Smith through various learning experiences at the airport.

Being able to step into the new job fulfills a longtime goal for Smith.

“Working in an airport environment has been my dream job since childhood,” he said.

And being able to help someone develop a passion for the aviation industry and go on to achieve their dream job validates the internship/mentorship program offered at the Huntingburg Regional through its local partners.

“That excitement around Smith, who spent the summer job shadowing all aspects of managing a general aviation airport, makes for a great career pathway launched from Huntingburg,” said Jim Hunsicker, board president of the Dubois County Airport Authority.

About the Huntingburg Regional Airport:

The Huntingburg Regional Airport (KHNB/HNB) founded in 1937, serves the needs of the regional industry base including Kimball International, MasterBrand Cabinets, Fortune Brands, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Best Home Furnishings, OFS Brands, Dubois County Flight Services, Mann Enterprises and HNB Hangar, LLC.

HNB is a general aviation (GA) airport located three miles south of Huntingburg in southern Indiana. The airport serves a GA audience, with a strong emphasis on corporate and business air travel. Local businesses rely on the airport to conduct business, fly executives or other personnel into the region, and quickly transport goods and products around the state and country. This level of business reliance keeps jobs in the region and contributes to the area’s economic activity. HNB hosts multiple on-site business tenants which include an aircraft rental service and a fixed base operator (FBO), which provides aircraft services, charters, rentals, and much more. The airport is supported by the local government who understands its importance to their community and local supply chain. In addition to business activity, the airport also experiences daily recreational flights along with flight training. With the airport’s proximity to State Road 64 (SR-64), U.S. Highway 231 (US 231), and Interstate 64 (I-64), HNB, and its Aviation Technology Park, offers an ideal location for aviation businesses, pilots, and GA passengers looking to access southern Indiana.

About the Seymour Airport (Freeman Field):

The Seymour Airport (KSER/SER) was built in 1942 as a WW-II military flight-training base, the facility was turned over to the city of Seymour in 1947.

Today Freeman Field has $5,478,000 economic impact, according to a 2022 INDOT study. Freeman Field is self-sustaining through an industrial park complex, agriculture properties and an airfield that features two runways over 6,001 feet and 5,502 feet respectively. SER is a general aviation (GA) airport located directly south of Seymour in southern Indiana. The airport supports daily recreational GA flights along with corporate and business flight activity. Additional operations at SER include flight training and instruction, police and law enforcement, aerial advertising, traffic and news reporting, and occasional military operations. The airport features a large, open apron with numerous box hangars and T-hangars spread across the airfield. Several businesses and aviation clubs have facilities located on-site, including agricultural application and soaring clubs. Situated nearly equidistant to Indianapolis and Louisville, and less than 100 miles from Cincinnati, SER offers a central location for access to multiple large midwestern cities, as well as the southern Indiana region.

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