Fly guys: Airport only has two managers in 64-year history
Unless you pass by the big green sign on U.S. 61 just North of Natchez, the Natchez-Adams County Airport likely doesn’t cross your mind too often.
Luckily, two men have spent most of their days thinking of little but the airport.
Their careers may have followed different flight paths to get here, but the only two airport managers in the 64-year history of the Natchez-Adams County Airport are glad they did.
Billy Simmons, who retired after being the airport manager from 1949 to 1989, grew up in Natchez and only left for a few years while pursuing a flying career with the U.S. Navy.
Clinton Pomeroy, the current airport manager, grew up in Eufaula, Ala., and moved to Natchez within months of graduating from Auburn University.
Both men have had offers to work elsewhere, but they have decided that this town and this airport are home.
Pomeroy is quick to acknowledge that something is special about an airport only having two airport managers since first opening for business.
“For an airport to have only had two directors over its existence is fairly rare,” Pomeroy said.
And Pomeroy said that his own longevity as manager at the airport is thanks in part to the knowledge and relationships he fostered over the 14 years he worked under Simmons.
“He (Simmons) had knowledge and contacts that I was able to meet and use when I started,” Pomeroy said.
He added that Simmons’ openness about the day-to-day operations at the airport made it an easy switch when he became manager upon Simmons’ retirement in 1989.
“It was a fairly easy transition because I had seen how things were working,” Pomeroy said.
Bruce Harveston, who has worked on day-to-day operations at the airport for seven years, strongly believes that the constant leadership provided by Simmons and Pomeroy has only helped the airport over the years.
“Having the same two people has been a help, instead of turning over and turning over,” Harveston said.
“They both know what is going on. You don’t have to worry about anything.”
Simmons still lives in the house he bought when the airport opened in 1949, less than a quarter of a mile from the airport entrance, and will often wander down to the control tower to chat with Pomeroy or to look over a new plane on the runway.
He may have retired from the field in 1989, but Simmons still finds himself intrigued by the work he loved all those years.
“Whenever an airplane goes over,” Simmons said, “I usually stop and look up and see what it is.”
Simmons said he enjoyed his profession all those years, and is proud of the time spent in the Navy and at the Natchez-Adams County Airport.
“It’s like doctors or medical professionals,” Simmons said. “They like what they do, and they devote their lives to it. And that’s pretty much the way I felt about it.”
While it may be rare to spend a career at your first job, Pomeroy, like Simmons, said he has no regrets that the airport’s two runways have been his home since 1975.
“It’s been an enjoyable career,” Pomeroy said. “I’ve met a lot of interesting people.
“It’s been nice to work in an environment where it’s like a family. That’s how we’ve tried to treat it out here.”