New Sussex airport manager introduced

GEORGETOWN — Sussex County has landed its next manager of the Delaware Coastal Airport.

Robert Bryant

Robert L. Bryant, whose three decades of airport/aviation experience includes 23 years as manager of the Salisbury Regional Airport in Maryland, was introduced as the new manager of the Georgetown-based airport during Tuesday’s Sussex County Council meeting.

“I’m thrilled, and I am excited. And I am happy to be associated with Sussex County (and) the Delaware Coastal Airport,” Mr. Bryant said in addressing council.

He will oversee day-to-day operations of the county-owned airport and the Delaware Coastal Business Park.

“It is very exciting to have someone of Bob’s caliber take over this position,” said Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson.

“The airport and business park are a critical economic development tool for Sussex County, so it’s an absolute win to have someone of Bob’s credentials join to help lead our efforts to grow,” Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “We look forward to working with him.”

Mr. Bryant, of Salisbury, fills the vacancy created in late May when Eric Littleton vacated the airport manager’s post to return to the Wallops Island Flight Facility for a “dream job” as an employee with NASA.

The new manager comes from both the public and private sector with an aviation management, consultant and educational career spanning nearly four decades. He has held various operations and supervisory positions at airports in Louisiana, West Virginia and Maryland, dating back to the 1980s.

Since retiring in 2016, Mr. Bryant has served as a college-level instructor and an assistant project manager for a New Orleans-based aviation, energy and community planning firm.

Mr. Bryant has been working with previous Delaware Coastal Airport manager Jim Hickin, who retired last October and agreed to return temporarily to help the county during this transition, Mr. Lawson said.

“I really missed being on an airfield, and this is an excellent opportunity to get back around the aviation community I have known and loved for more than 30 years,” Mr. Bryant said. “I’m excited to be joining Sussex County and thank the County Council for this chance to get my hands back in the business, planning new projects and making sure our pilots and aircraft can continue to enjoy and rely on the best possible aviation infrastructure.”

During his tenure as manager at the Salisbury Regional Airport, Mr. Bryant said he was on watch during implementation of $60 million in capital improvements, including runway extension, lease renewals, environmental issues, land acquisition and wildlife hazard management.

“Anything that is associated with an airport, I have done it,” Mr. Bryant said, adding that he looks forward to working with county staff and the county’s economic development group “in making this airport the best possible airport it can be to serve the general aviation community, the air transportation industry and also to be an economic development tool for the county.”

The Georgetown airport, built in the 1940s and utilized at one point by the U.S. Navy, is a general aviation facility popular with pilots of small aircraft and corporate jets. It has roughly 35,000 landings/takeoffs annually.

For over a decade, Sussex County has made a host of multimillion-dollar improvements at the airport, from new tie-down aprons and state-of-the-art lighting to a new crosswind runway and extended main runway.

Lengthening the main runway from 5,000 to 6,000 feet will accommodate larger aircraft, including Boeing 757s, which would fly into the airport for conversion work at manufacturer ALOFT AeroArchitects in the adjacent Delaware Coastal Business Park. The first of two extension phases has already been completed, with the runway now at 5,500 feet.