Jeffrey Miller has been in aviation for 17 years, his path starting at the Manistee County Blacker Airport in Michigan. Miller found himself at the airport after taking an internship in his, initial, prospective career field, radiology, and realized it wasn’t a fit for him. Instead, he found aviation suited him and his job at the small airport opened the doors to the wider industry for him.
“Back then it was about understanding what the industry was and learning that there was more to aviation than being a pilot, which for me opened up a lot of doors and opportunities,” Miller said. “It really afforded me an opportunity to find a love and passion for aviation.”
At Manistee, Miller got to see how the industry works between the airlines, airports, pilots and more. The airport’s manager pointed him towards Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University to further his education and Miller enrolled as a full-time student while paying his bills by working at Yelvington Jet Aviation FBO in Daytona.
Graduating with a degree in Aviation Management, Miller bounced around from airport to airport, working his way up the ladder to his current position – Airport Director of the Laredo International Airport.
“We call it living on the edge because we’re on the edge of the border. Basically, anything you use that comes from Mexico goes through Laredo,” Miller said.
Laredo is currently the only airport in the United States offering both US and Mexico Customs 24/7 to pre-clear cargo in the US and proceed to Mexico as a domestic flight. Since Miller arrived, he has been working with both federal agencies to expand product allowed in the program.
“I think that it is humbling and also an experience that you don’t get in a lot of other jobs,” Miller said. “Everything that’s connected in this world comes through an airport, whether it’s connecting families or a research entity. You’re connecting all these communities and worlds.”
Miller has secured the first international commercial flight to Mexico City in over a decade, obtained over $30 million in discretionary FAA funding to facilitate cargo ramp operations and is spearheading working with local educational institutions and the private sector to create a mechanic and pilot school for the people in the community.
Continual education is something Miller firmly believes in and he returned to Embry-Riddle, securing his master’s degree in Aviation Finance, as well as recently earning his Accredited Airport Executive designation through the American Association of Airport Executives. Miller also holds his private pilot’s license.
“I love aviation because you can literally see the world in usually no more than two stops. You can go from where I started in a small town of 30,000 people in Michigan, get on an aircraft and end up in one of the largest airports in the world,” Miller said.