2018 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Adam Phelps, MBA, C.M.

Oct. 1, 2018

Adam Phelps, MBA, C.M.
Airport Operations Manager
Spokane Airports
Age: 34

  • Alma Mater: University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
  • Favorite Aircraft: Fun – Piper Cub, Business – Pilatus PC-12
  • Favorite Book: The Summons, John Grisham
  • Favorite Movie: Star Wars: Episode 5 The Empire Strikes Back
  • Favorite Hobbies: Flying, Golfing, and spending time with Family

When Adam Phelps was growing up in the 1990s, his family would take vacations to St. Louis. His uncle had a place on an extended final approach near St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Phelps would see all of the traffic coming in, which spurred an interest in aviation.

“There were also a few air shows and seeing crop dusting living on a farm and seeing those crop dusters work,” he said. “At first I thought my career was going to lead me to the Air Force, but instead it led me to the management side.”

Phelps’s career as an airport professional began at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport where he worked for two years as an operations officer. There he learned the basics of airport operations hands-on, while performing maintenance, operations and aircraft rescue and firefighting duties.

He then worked briefly as a seasonal snow equipment operator at Spokane International Airport before moving to McCall, Idaho to serve as the manager of FBO services company McCall Aviation.

Phelps joined the Spokane International Airport Operations Department in 2011 as an operations supervisor. In 2012 was promoted to operations manager. Phelps has led the airport’s efforts to improve operational efficiency and reliability by introducing a number of technological solutions.

“We go through ups and downs like any other market, but it’s always changing and it’s always challenging,” Phelps said. “We’re dealing with UAS and sustainability and electric aircraft and all the regulations.”

He has been heavily involved in the implementation of computer based training, digital Part 139 compliance software, an emergency mass notification system and web-based field condition reporting.

Phelps also serves as the airport’s subject matter expert on Unmanned Aircraft Systems and works closely with local air traffic control on managing UAS activity around the airport.

Phelps earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Airport Management from the University of North Dakota and a Master’s of Business Administration from Webster University. He is an instrument rated private pilot, holds a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate and is a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives.

Phelps is also an active member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, recently volunteering in support of the regional AOPA fly-in in Missoula, Montana; and currently serves as a board member of the Washington Airport Management Association.