2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Keaghon W. Stark ACE

Dec. 9, 2021
Wilmington International Airport
Keaghon Stark
Keaghon Stark

Keaghon Stark was working as a line man when he moved to Wilmington, North Carolina with his family. He couldn’t find any job openings in the local market and ended up taking a position at Wilmington International Airport (ILM) as a maintenance technician.

He was intrigued by all the sides of aviation he never knew existed and the complexity of airport operations were intriguing as he learned they worked behind the scenes.

“I love having the building in tip-top shape,” Stark said. “Everything is working and is easily accessible to customers and knowing the grounds we have here are presentable and people see a beautiful airport property and beautiful terminal and they come in and everything is comfortable. It makes part of the flying experience that much better when they’re relaxed and everything is working prior to getting on a plane.”

He was promoted to operation supervisor and was the onsite leader and decision maker for all activities on the airport between midnight and 8 a.m. As the supervisor after normal business hours, Stark was responsible for routine preventive maintenance and security, any special incident, such as delayed aircraft, emergency aircraft events and preparing for morning fleet launch by the airlines.

Stark is currently the facility manager at ILM. He’s responsible for all the airfield, airport facilities and management of the maintenance employees. It is a fast-paced role that requires sound judgement as well as resource allocation to keep the airport in compliance with FAR Part 139 operating standards, TSAR 1542, OSHA and many other local ordinances.

During ILM’s $60 million terminal expansion project, Stark monitored critical equipment installation and power cut overs scheduled while the facility was vacant. He ensured all problems were resolved before morning fleet launch.

“I like having a rewarding career,” Stark said. “I like to be able to look back and see what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished. It was instilled on me by my grandfather at a young age that if you work hard, you stay dedicated to a company or an organization and they’ll take care of you because hard work and dedication is always seen as long as you’re doing the right thing.”

Stark led his shift through the uncertainty and risks of COVID-19. His steadfast leadership ensured ILM was sanitized, secure and ready for passengers who required air transportation. He was especially sensitive to the needs of his employees who reported to the airport each day and faced exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

“The hardest part for me was making sure our crews had the supplies,” he said. “It was reaching out to current vendors, reaching out to new vendors, finding out if they had the supplies and getting what I could when I could.”

Stark is a strong supporter of the Cape Fear Area United Way and a volunteer with his son’s Boy Scout Pack # 211. He’s also active in local charity beach volleyball tournaments to raise money for various causes in the Wilmington area.

About the Author

Joe Petrie | Editor & Chief

Joe Petrie is the Editorial Director for the Endeavor Aviation Group.

Joe has spent the past 15 years writing about the most cutting-edge topics related to transportation and policy in a variety of sectors with an emphasis on transportation issues for the past 10 years.

Contact: Joe Petrie

Editor & Chief | Airport Business

[email protected]


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