Bong Airport Comes Under New Management

May 24, 2024

May 23—SUPERIOR — Now in his 55th year as manager of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Airport, Bill Amorde is making plans to retire at the end of June.

The Superior City Council approved an agreement Tuesday, May 21, to have Superior Flying Services take on the role effective June 1 as manager of the municipal airport in the center of the city.

Superior Flying Services, owned by Calvin Kramp, has been the fixed-base operator at the airport for the last 12 years.

"We plan to have a month of overlap with Calvin and Bill," said Todd Janigo, public works director.

Amorde said he was asked by the city to stay on for one month to show Kramp the ropes.

After all, Amorde has been managing the Bong Airport since 1969, when the facility consisted of two sod runways and a single hangar built in 1937 with a capacity to store seven planes.

A lot has changed since then. Now the airport has two asphalt runways, 24 hangars, a main terminal building and can facilitate landings and takeoffs of small jets. When he started as the airport manager, only about 10 or 12 planes were based at the airport, which now has close to 50, Amorde said.

Amorde, for whom the terminal was named, said he remembers being surprised when he drove to the airport and saw his name on the terminal building.

"That was pretty nice, wasn't it," Amorde said. "I didn't know anything about it. They kept me out of it."

Former Mayor Dave Ross spearheaded the naming effort at the urging of business leaders who used the airport, which was approved by the City Council in 2010.

It was 1962 when Amorde started taking flying lessons. Once he got his pilot's license, he started Twin Ports Flying and offered flying lessons at the airport in 1966. Then in 1969, when another airport manager left, city officials asked Amorde to take on the role, the same year he married his wife, Cathy.

"It was formalized with a contract years later," Amorde said.

Cathy handled the bookkeeping while he handled the outdoor work, Amorde said.

Over the years, Amorde said it's the people he's worked with and become friends with, and the clubs formed at the Bong Airport, that he will remember. Clubs have included all forms of aviation travel including hot air balloons, gliders, ultra lights, hang gliders and skydiving.

Superior Flying Services, which launched in May 2012 at the Bong Airport, provides a good transition, said Ruth Ludwig, a city councilor.

Kramp, owner and president of Superior Flying Services, holds Bachelor of Science degrees in flight operations and aviation management from the University of Dubuque in Iowa, and has about 20 years of experience in the aviation industry as a flight instructor, pilot and in small airport management.

As the fixed-base operator at the Bong Airport, Kramp oversees fueling operations, flight training, general aviation maintenance and has a staff of seven, including three full-time flight instructors.

Kramp said his No. 1 goal as he takes on the role of manager is to encourage more community involvement in Bong Airport.

"The airport lives in the middle of the city, and I could probably tell a lot of people that I work at the airport, and they say 'which one, where is it," and they drive right by it every day," Kramp said. While he hasn't decided how to engage the community exactly, periodic free events at the airport are likely.

In addition, Kramp said he would like to see more development of the airport, such as new hangars, runway rehabilitation and a parallel taxiway that has been in the works since 2018 with a goal to improve traffic and safety for airport users.


(c)2024 the Superior Telegram (Superior, Wis.)

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