BETHEL – A Rumford aviation enthusiast, pilot and state drug enforcement agent was recently hired to coordinate maintenance and operations’ duties for Bethel Regional Airport.

Tony Milligan took over last month for Dan “DK” Kennagh, who retired Nov. 1 after serving the airport in various capacities for more than 30 years, said town and airport manager Scott Cole.

Milligan, who assisted Kennagh, will work as an independent contractor for $10 a day or $300 a month, Cole said.

“I’ve been his arms and legs, basically for close to 10 years, or five, six years, anyways,” Milligan said by phone on Tuesday evening. “I’m based there. I’m a pilot, so I fly out of that airport regularly and enjoy aviation, so when he decided to retire, he recommended me for the position.”

As part-time help, it’s up to Milligan to determine when he works without direct oversight or direction from Cole or other town officials. He can also store his plane in the town Quonset hut at the airfield.

Among other tasks, duties include timely and proper filing of notices to airmen with Federal Aviation Administration-designated authorities, snow removal operations, mowing, upkeep, monitoring field conditions and systems of the airport, providing information to aviators, and allocating available space in the Quonset hut to other aircraft operators.

“This time of the year, it’s particularly important because you have weather, either snow or ice, that affects the condition of the runway and the apron and such. Anything that effects the performances of the landing and taking off of aircraft have to be reported to the FAA as notices to airmen.

“So, I have to monitor those conditions and, if anything, you know, changes or poses a hazard, I report that to the FAA so that it gets databased so that at anytime pilots get their pre-flight briefing from flight service, they get those advisories. It gets published online and they get them verbally over the radio or over the telephone.

“Basically, as the town manager called it, I’m the eyes and ears of the airport,” he said, “because there’s nobody doing it as a business, the town needs to have somebody do it,” he added.

Regarding Kennagh, the town honored him and his service with a dinner and plaque on Dec. 13.

“For me, DK’s constant presence and vigilance have been nothing short of a blessing,” Cole said. “The airport seems sleepy, but it is actually a seven-day-a-week operation with many variables and significant responsibilities,” he said. “Never once has he been wrong in his assessment of situations, in his decisions, or in his recommendations concerning the airport.”

Because there are no set hours, the job dovetails nicely with Milligan’s drug enforcement work and volunteer service with Angel Flight. Milligan is also one of three Bethel airport-based pilots who are Angel Flight volunteer pilots.

Angel Flight, according to its Web site and Milligan, is a nonprofit charitable organization of pilots, volunteers and friends who arrange free transportation for any legitimate, charitable, medically-related need for either adults or children.

He goes to the airport “before work or after work or both, to check it during the day. It’s not like you have to be there all of the time. And, if there are any problems, or other pilots notice people around who aren’t supposed to be there, they get a hold of me and I take care of it,” he said.


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