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After 42 years of service, Hickory Regional Airport Manager Terry Clark announced that he will retire on Dec. 31. Clark has worked for the City of Hickory since April 1981 and has served as manager of the Hickory Regional Airport since 2007.
“It has been a blessing and an honor over the last 42 years to have served with the City of Hickory Regional Airport,” said Clark. “Thanks to all my staff and my City of Hickory coworkers. I have worked with so many amazing and supportive city managers and councilmen and women throughout the years. I would like to give a special thank you to Harold Whitener, former airport manager, who hired me and gave me the opportunity to be a part of this organization. He was a wonderful mentor and is a great friend.”
During his tenure with the City of Hickory, Clark has been at the helm of many notable projects to advance the airport. One of his greatest career achievements was taking over all fixed-base operator (FBO) services in 2011. This had never been done in the history of the Hickory airport. Prior to this significant change, all aviation services were managed and provided by a contracted company.
In the following years, Clark led the Airport Task Force for future development at the airport and completed an Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The strategic vision for the airport included the closing of Runway 1/19 for present and future economic development, extending Runway 6/24 to over 7,000 feet to accommodate larger aircraft, installing an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) to enhance aircraft safety, and adding a new fuel farm to improve efficiencies in fuel sales.
He oversaw the construction of a new 32,000-square-foot hangar to replace the N1 hangar that was damaged by a tornado in October 2017. The replacement hangar was built to the latest safety standards with a state-of-the-art foam suppression system.
Clark built relationships with pilots, corporate customers, and regional partners to continuously make improvements at the Hickory Regional Airport. Under his leadership, the City partnered with Burke County to construct a 12,000-square-foot airplane hangar in 2022. Construction of 12 T-hangars is currently underway along the closed Runway 1/19, again in partnership with Burke County Government.
Another notable project that is still in the works is the construction of a facility on the east ramp that will house an expanded Hickory Aviation Museum and a new Workforce Innovation Center for Catawba Valley Community College. This project is preparing to break ground.
“Terry has been an essential part of a transformation at the airport since the day he started working for the City over 42 years ago. His work has laid the foundation for future growth and development in and around Hickory Regional Airport,” said City Manager Warren Wood.
Clark has been an active member of the North Carolina Airport Managers Association and served on the board of the Hickory Aviation Museum. In 2020, Clark received the Patriot Award from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in recognition of his extraordinary support of an employee who serves in the National Guard. The FAA Safety Team presented Clark with the Aviation Safety Award on Sept. 29 in recognition of his support to the FAA Safety Team’s goals and objectives by participating in safety activities throughout his career.
Mayor Hank Guess commented on behalf of the Hickory City Council, “We greatly appreciate Terry’s dedication to serving Hickory residents and visitors over the years. He literally rolled out the red carpet for his airport guests and was often the first to welcome people to Hickory. His leadership at the airport has helped to strengthen the Hickory community and connect Hickory to destinations across the country and beyond. We certainly wish him a long and happy retirement.”
Clark resides with his wife on his family’s farm in Hudson. They have two married sons and three grandsons. In his retirement, Clark looks forward to maintaining the acres of his family farm and enjoying the relaxation that work brings.
“The airport has been such a big part of my life for over four decades and I wish for the continued success of the airport and the City of Hickory,” Clark said.