Used with permission by Robin Hunt
Deputy Director, AWP Airports
It is our pleasure to spotlight those in the aviation community who have a love for aviation and make things better for the rest of us. These special individuals bring attention to the great industry we all work in and the benefits it gives to local communities. The first spotlight is Betty Easley of the Hawthorne Airport in Hawthorne, Nevada.
Betty is a volunteer who puts in countless hours to make Hawthorne Airport a place that pilots want to visit. Betty has always loved aviation, she says “If you are paid it’s a job, if you volunteer it’s love.” As a child she looked skyward for the airplanes and jets. In the 9th grade her family moved to Clearfield, Utah, near Hill Air Force Base. She was in love with the jets and Hill Air Force Base was where she first saw the Thunderbirds. As a child, her bedroom was full of model airplanes she assembled and books she read about aircraft.
In 1965 she moved to Hawthorne, Nevada to teach Primary/Elementary music and engage in her other love- horses. However, her eyes continued to be drawn skyward whenever an aircraft flew overhead. The real turning point for Betty was in 2007, during the Steve Fossett search, when numerous helicopters came to the Hawthorne airport for fuel. She observed what pilots were doing and realized there were small things she could do to help them out and be a part of the airport and aviation.
The more she was around pilots and planes the more she realized ways to encourage the aviation community to recognize Hawthorne as a good place to visit. She started out by purchasing the airport’s first car in December 2007, the next vehicle was purchased in the summer of 2008. A surplus 15 passenger Caltrans van was received in spring 2010 – just in time for the Marine reserve ATC to use during the Javelin Thrust Reserve Training. The vehicles are available for pilot use, when they come to Hawthorne Airport.
Betty also started writing articles for the Mineral County Independent News in December 2007 and contributed aviation articles connected in some way to Hawthorne Airport. There are scrapbooks in the pilot’s lounge with all the articles. Pilots and others can request reprints of the articles which she emails out to over 300 contacts each week.
But Betty’s talents don’t stop there. Betty is also an accomplished photographer. She sold her pictures before focusing on aviation. When she turned to aviation photography she promised to never accept money for her photographs – she simply considers them gifts to the pilots she photographs. Her photographs have been featured within and as the cover for the Comanche Flyer and Aerostar Log. Being a volunteer she loves that she can set her own hours, but keeping with her dedication to the airport and pilots, her hours are 24/7. She will go to the airport anytime that someone comes in or she is needed. She proudly informed me that Tony Hughes, who she calls “a wonderful man” does back her up on the rare occasion she isn’t available.
When pilots do insist on donating for her effort, she puts the money in an account at the Credit Union call the “Pilot Donation Fund”. Just three of the items the Pilots Fund has paid for are; the AC unit to keep the AWOS equipment room at 70 degrees, a new UNICOM radio for the FBO, and a super nice rolling ladder for pilots that need height to fuel their planes.
Customer service isn’t her only goal, she is fanatical about safety, with Foreign Object Debris (FOD) runs and condition reports to pilots whenever needed. For her work with FAA investigators and her safety activities, she was awarded the FAA Western-Pacific Region Flight Standards Division challenge coin and certificate award at the Reno Air Races in 2015.
Betty’s energy and drive to make Hawthorne Airport the best it can be, is inspiring to say the least. In Betty’s words “I love that I am able to serve the aviation community and promote HTH and Hawthorne. Through this service I have made friends I would have never met and even though I’m not a pilot, the aviation world has accepted me as one of their own and that is the highest honor they can give me.” Betty is one of those rare individuals who has found her passion and is willing to put everything in to make it great. Fortunately, some pilots have rewarded her with something that, for Betty, money can’t buy – their appreciation and an incredible flight. She mentioned one of her most memorable flights was an hour long flight in a Nevada Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk around Lake Tahoe.
For Betty the last 9 years have been the happiest and most fulfilling in her entire life. I know some of you have wanted to steal Betty for your airport, but she is staying at Hawthorne. We are all grateful and hope she continues to love what she does for many more years to come. If you’re in the area be sure to stop in and see Betty—the refrigerator is kept stocked, and there is a snack bar, computer, WiFi, All-in-One printer, microwave, plus loaner cars so you can stay overnight or enjoy a meal in town. Oh- and be sure to say Hi to Betty for all of us!
“I would also like to thank Betty for the outstanding job she does at our local airport, the things she does are beyond great, her passion for flying and her volunteer efforts are second to none. Betty is an absolute asset to this community and her involvement at the airport, she spends countless hours helping the pilots and their needs, so to Betty my hat goes off to you, for the outstanding job you have done and many more years to come,” said Eric Hamrey, Mineral County Public Works Director