Mike Nass

Mike Nass fills an airplane’s fuel tank Tuesday at the Clinton Municipal Airport.

Mark Hagen/ Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

Airport Manager Mike Nass works to keep the Clinton Municipal Airport a nice place to fly and land.

Mike has been the airport manager for eight years. He had just left the U.S. Air Force and had his flight instructor rating when the position opened up at the Clinton airport. He typically works Monday to Friday, starting at 8 a.m. Sometimes he has to come back in later during the week or on the weekend.

At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Mike is going through some of his regular duties. He takes his van out to inspect the two runways. He said he drives on the runways every morning to make sure there is nothing on the runway, such as broken material or a dead animal. As he drives on the runway and crosses through certain areas, Mike uses his radio to let pilots know he is on the runway. One pilot announces over the radio that he will be taking off and Mike answers that he will hold back on the runway.

While driving around on the runways, Mike also checks on the current runway project. The runway he is driving on had been closed for repairs until recently. Now runway 3-21 is closed for repairs. Crews are putting a small layer of asphalt on the runway to smooth it for the 8-inch concrete overlay that is planned. Mike said having one of the two runways closed has slowed down business. He said it has especially kept the larger, commercial jets away since it is the biggest of the two runways that is currently closed.

Mike meets with the project engineer to see how it is coming along. He also checks on a project where the antenna that guides airplanes is being moved farther back and an access road is being built to it. Once Mike is finished with his check of the runways, he heads back to the main building. He and an employee then head to do a quality control check they do every week.

The airport has two tanks of fuel from which visiting pilots can purchase fuel. Aviation fuel and jet fuel are available. Every week Mike checks these underground tanks or any water or contaminants. Mike and the employee uncover and open the caps to the two fuel tanks. Starting with the aviation fuel, they take a long pipe and place it in the tank. A hand pump is added to the pipe. Mike pumps almost two gallons of fuel into a bucket and checks it for water and contaminants. He pours the fluid back into the tank through a filter that takes out both the dirt and the water. He dumps the fuel-laced water into a waste barrel. Mike said that in the winter, when the water is frozen on the bottom, they will separate the usable fuel and use it for their own machines.

Mike continues to pump fuel out and check it for water, putting it through the filter and dumping the waste in the barrels. He pumps the fuel out six times before he is sure all water and contaminants have been removed. He then moves to the jet fuel tank and does the process again.

As they are finishing up with the two tanks, A pilot pulls into the area to fuel up. He will be flying to Denver and needs all four of his tanks filled with aviation fuel. Mike jumps up and helps him. As the pilot goes to pay for the fuel, Mike grabs the hose and drags it to the plane. He moves from one fuel tank to the next, removing the cap on the wing and filling the tank up. Soon, the plane is ready and the pilot is on his way.

Mike then checks the standing fuel unit to make sure nothing is in the filter. He flips the box up and checks the filter. Once he finds it to be safe, he moves onto the jet fuel unit. He said the jet fuel unit has two filters — one removes sediment and one removes water — and a shut-off valve in case water gets past the filters.

Once Mike is finished with the fuel tanks, he heads back to his office to work on paperwork. He said with the various grants, budgets and other matters, he does a lot of paperwork.

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