Ted Bushelman remembers being frightened just once during his childhood.
"I was about 5 or 6 and you were pulling my hand through a corn field," Bushelman told his father, Bill, many years later. "We were in a hurry."
"Don't you remember where we were headed?" Bill Bushelman asked his son. "To a groundbreaking at the airport." It was likely the 1943 groundbreaking of a military practice field.
For professionals who deal daily with the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and even those longtime residents who simply watch the news or read the newspaper, it seems Ted Bushelman has been the voice and face of the airport since the first commercial DC-3 touched down 60 years ago.
He nearly has.
Bushelman became the facility's first senior director of communications on Oct. 1, 1967.
Forty years later, at age 71, he has been the only senior director of communications at an airport that has grown to become the 30th largest in the nation, and a hub and international departure point for one of the nation's bggest carriers, Delta Air Lines.
Taking the job was was the most turbulent career takeoff Bushelman could have anticipated. Just 30 days into his career, on Nov. 6, 1967, TWA Flight 157, a Boeing 707, overshot the runway during an aborted takeoff. Eleven of 29 passengers were injured; one of the injured died four days later.
Journalists rushed to the scene and started doing their jobs -- asking questions. Bushelman's boss at the time gave his fresh-on- the-job PR man his orders: "Go hide."
"I was new. He told me to hide, so I did," Bushelman said. "It was a learning experience."
Bushelman watched news coverage that night and discovered reporters had found someone else to talk. "It was the janitor. They had the wrong airline and the wrong runway. I was mad."
Bushelman vowed to never hide from -- or even avoid -- the press again. He considers them all -- even the most aggressive of reporters -- his professional friends. And it is his job to help them do theirs with accurate information.
"As far as I know, I have never lied to a member of the media," Bushelman said. "I have said, 'I can't answer that question (because of public safety) or, 'I can't answer it, until I get more information.' But to the best of my knowledge, I have never lied."
Bushelman isn't just the face of the airport. He oversees its telecommunications operations and is credited with starting many of its departments. Sign making and the opening of a cell-phone lot, a space where friends and relatives can wait for passengers, have been a few of his ideas.
But you can think of a lot of innovative ideas when you put in 14- hour days.
Bushelman suffered from polio as a child. He wasn't expected to live, let alone walk. He credits an artificial heart valve doctors inserted 15 years ago with not only giving him a second wind, but making him feel healthier than ever. "I had struggled all my life (with a leaking valve) and I thought I was supposed to feel that way," he says. "After the surgery, I felt great."
Keeping up with this 71-year-old on a work day means quick car trips from one meeting to the next.
There are bank dedications, meetings with the airport board, a Boone County Businessmen's Association meeting, and Florence Freedom baseball games, which Bushelman produces for the volunteer Cable One Television he founded many years ago.
"If everyone in our community spent a tenth the amount of time that Ted does, being involved in its betterment, we would never be lacking for volunteers to move important projects forward," said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen, who once served as Bushelman's airport assistant. "Ted's list of community involvement and accomplishments is a very long one -- he is not only a member of these groups, but is actively involved."
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director Kentucky's Thoroughbred Cincinnati continues to shine among hubs; many say the director is largely responsible COVINGTON , KY — The headline...
The Airport will lose 157 of its 638 daily flights beginning Dec. 1, and as many as 1,000 airline workers could lose their jobs.
As many as 1,000 airline workers could lose their jobs because of changes announced by Delta.