2018 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Zachary D. Oakley A.A.E., ACE

Oct. 1, 2018

Zachary D. Oakley A.A.E., ACE
Deputy Director of Operations and Planning
Chicago Rockford International Airport
Age: 35

  • Alma Mater: BS: Southern Illinois University Carbondale; MS: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Favorite Aircraft: F4U Corsair
  • Favorite Book: Numerous books, I love anything written by Stephen Ambrose and W.E.B Griffin
  • Favorite TV Show: The Office
  • Favorite Movie: Star Wars
  • Favorite Hobbies: Taking my 1 year old son for a walk with my wife

As deputy director of operations and planning at Chicago Rockford International Airport, Zach Oakley wears many hats and is considered the “go-to” for countless opportunities and challenges throughout the entire airport. When anyone needs help or advice, the phrase is “Just ask Zach.”

Oakley’s job is to ensure compliance with all federal, state and local rules and regulations at the airport. He also provides oversight to airside operations activities, including airport emergency response, FAA inspections, FAA security, US Customs & Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, airline gate and traffic management, federal and local law enforcement policy compliance and special program implementation.

For Oakley, his job is all about variety. “Our organization isn’t large. We have around 36 employees. But we work with big clients like Allegiant Air, UPS and Atlas,” he said. “Being a major cargo airport, I have had a hand in everything, including business development, air service development, operations, marketing, planning and construction.”

Oakley is most proud of his work in preventing bird strikes. “I’ve worked on outreach efforts with pilots in business, commercial and general aviation and done talks about wildlife hazards,” he said. He also volunteers on the Oshkosh Birdstrike Committee and works a booth at the annual Oshkosh Fly-In event.

The wide variety of things touched by aviation is what appeals most to Oakley. “We can see how what we do in aviation affects our entire economy,” he said. “And you can also see how wide our reach is even in our own community.”