Georgetown, Del., July 28, 2020: Delaware Coastal Airport has a new pilot in command.
Sussex County officials announced on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, that Robert L. Bryant of Salisbury, Md., has been appointed as manager of airport and business park operations. Bryant, who began his duties this week, takes over for Eric Littleton, who returned to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for a new post after a year in Sussex. Former airport manager Jim Hickin, who retired in the fall of 2019, graciously returned to the County in a part-time capacity until Bryant could be brought aboard.
Bryant was selected from a field of four candidates for the job that oversees day-to-day operations of Delaware Coastal Airport, which has roughly 35,000 landing and takeoff operations annually from a variety of aircraft, as well as the adjacent Delaware Coastal Business Park, both just outside Georgetown.
Bryant has earned his wings in both the public and private sectors during an aviation management, consultant and education career that spans four decades. He comes to Sussex County after holding various operations and supervisory positions at airports in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Maryland, dating back to the late 1980s, most recently as the longtime director of the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport, a post he held for 23 years. Since retiring in 2016, Mr. Bryant has served as a college-level instructor, and as an assistant project manager for a New Orleans-based aviation, energy, and community planning firm.
“I really missed being on an airfield, and this is an excellent opportunity to get back around the aviation community I have known and loved for more than 30 years,” Mr. Bryant said. “I’m excited to be joining Sussex County and thank the County Council for this chance to get my hands back in the business, planning new projects and making sure our pilots and aircraft can continue to enjoy and rely on the best possible aviation infrastructure.”
County officials said Mr. Bryant’s background working in the public sector, his familiarity in working with the Federal Aviation Administration and regional airport operators, and leading various airport capital, marketing and safety projects, made him the clear choice for the position.
“Bob has the right mix of general aviation understanding, project development and long-term management experience our airport needs to get to the next level,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “He knows municipal airports, he understands how to work with elected leaders and navigate the funding channels at the local, state and federal levels. There’s no question he’s more than qualified, and we look forward to parlaying his experience, expertise and enthusiasm for aviation as the County continues to improve the airport in the years to come.”
The airport, built in the 1940s and utilized at one point by the U.S. Navy, is a general aviation facility popular with pilots of small aircraft and corporate jets. For more than a decade, the County has made a host of multi-million-dollar improvements at the airport, from new tie-down aprons and state-of-the-art lighting to a new crosswind runway and extended main runway. The latter project – extending the main runway from 5,000 to 6,000 feet – would accommodate larger aircraft, including Boeing 757s, which would fly into the airport for conversion work at manufacturer ALOFT AeroArchitects in the adjacent Delaware Coastal Business Park. The first of two extension phases has already been completed, with the runway now at 5,500 feet.
The airport and its image in the aviation community have soared in recent years, thanks to the various facility improvements supported by the County Council, as well as a re-branding effort in 2015 when the Delaware Coastal Airport moniker was adopted.
“The airport and business park are a critical economic development tool for Sussex County, so it’s an absolute win to have someone of Bob’s credentials join to help lead our efforts to grow,” County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “We look forward to working with him.”
Mr. Bryant, who has a private pilot’s license and previously won accreditation as an airport executive with the American Association of Airport Executives, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in technical careers (airline and airport management) from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.