Stennis Airport honored for post-Katrina efforts

The FAA’s Southern Region Airports Division has selected Stennis International Airport in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to receive the 2005 General Aviation Airport Safety Award.

Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Airport Manager Bill Cotter and his son cleared debris from operational and safety areas and repaired runway edge lights to allow resumption of night operations. The airport borrowed airport rescue and fire fighting vehicles, and two days after the hurricane, relief flights began.

The airport provided bivouac areas for soldiers and airmen providing security and relief services. This enabled military and civilian aircraft operating out of Stennis to support massive relief efforts in southwest Mississippi and New Orleans.

The airport staff coordinated space for parking and unloading military and civilian cargo aircraft delivering relief supplies. At the height of post-Katrina operations, 1,500 tons of supplies were delivered daily to the airport.

“Stennis Airport acted quickly to restore service so critical relief flights could operate quickly and safely out of the airport,” said Rusty Chapman, manager, airports division, FAA Southern region. “The airport staff’s actions are a testament to their dedication and professionalism.”

The FAA also recently recognized Patrick S. Graham, executive director of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia, with its highest honor, The Kitty Hawk Award.

The award recognizes FAA employees and industry professionals who have made significant contributions to aviation in the southeast. Graham is the 12th person to receive the award since its 2002 inception, and he is only the second industry recipient.

Graham is a founding member of the Southeast Airports Disaster Organization Group (SEADOG), a volunteer group of 13 airports that provide first-responder assistance when major disasters strike airports in the southeast.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Graham dispatched Savannah airport staff and equipment to Gulf Coast airports, where they were the first to arrive with critically needed management, law enforcement, and technical aid to restore airports to operation so they could accept critically needed relief flights.

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