2018 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Ferdinand Paul Mehrlich III, C.M. ACE

Oct. 1, 2018

Ferdinand Paul Mehrlich III, C.M. ACE
Environmental Operations Manager
Dallas Love Field
Age: 32

  • Alma Mater: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide
  • Favorite Aircraft: My grandfather Boyd Winfree worked for North American Aviation and was a part of the design team that created the XB-70 Valkyrie. This was a design for a never used nuclear strike bomber that could fly at Mach 3. Only one of these aircraft still remain today at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Favorite Book: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
  • Favorite TV Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Favorite Movie: A Few Good Men
  • Favorite Hobbies: I love to travel to a new destination and sample a piece of food that represents the area. If you are willing to try new things than you will be open to a world of possibilities.

Paul Mehrlich wanted to serve his country, so he trained to become a Navy pilot. After an injury caused him to leave the military with an honorable discharge, he didn’t know what to do, since he had planned this as his long-term career.

That lead to a pivot into airport management.

In March 2013, Mehrlich got his first airport job, as an operations assistant, at San Diego’s Brown Field Airport. In February 2015, he made a big leap when he was named acting airport manager at Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport.

“The airport manager got deployed in the reserves, so I stepped up,” said Mehrlich. He made the best of his eight-month stint, working on projects like managing more than $120,000 in capital improvement projects in his first four months and conducting a study to update the airport’s rates and fees.

The work Mehrlich did at Montgomery-Gibbs helped him get his current job at Dallas Love Field. “My work in San Diego showed that I could move up,” he said.

Mehrlich is most proud of a personal project he took on in San Diego. “While I was still there, I met a gentleman, Bill Gibbs, who was 103 years old. He originally built Gibbs Field on his farmland and it was used to train World War II pilots,” he said.

The city bought the airport in 1950 and renamed it Montgomery Field.

But thanks to Mehrlich’s work with the airport and the city council, it was renamed Montgomery-Gibbs. “I was able to get it done before he died. He and his son were a major piece of San Diego aviation history and now everyone will know that.”

But looking ahead, Mehrlich wants to bring back the excitement of aviation. “There was a time when the airport was more than just a destination. It was a place that people visited. When I was a kid, my dad traveled so we’d go to the airport and watch the planes take off,” he recalled.”You didn’t have security and airports were more welcoming.”

Stronger security at airports made us disconnect and lose the love of aviation, said Mehrlich. “I’d like to see an opportunity for people to come back and reconnect with the airport,” he said. “I want people to see the airport and be a part of the experience rather than just get on the plane.”