Former Bethesda Mayor Bob Flanagan has been named interim manager of the Belmont County Regional Airport.
Flanagan, who served as mayor of Bethesda for three years from 2000-2003, is retired from Ohio Valley Coal Mine #6 after 17 years, the last seven as a foreman.
Barnesville Village Administrator Roger Deal said Henry Burdette had been filling in at the airport after the passing of Clyde “Sheets”  Wittenbrook. Wittenbrook was a fixed based operator, having run a very successful Mooney Aircraft sales and repair shop there. He was the top Mooney salesperson at one time.
“Sheets will be difficult to replace,” Deal said. “He did things that no one else was trained to do.”
Deal said the airport hangar lease was sold and the Belmont County Regional Airport Authority was looking for a manager with experience who could send NOTAMs to the Federal Aviation Administration about the condition of the runway and perform general maintenance of the buildings and equipment.
Deal said Flanagan has been appointed for a four-month interim term and the BCRAA will be advertising for the airport manager position.
Flanagan, who has owned four airplanes and has a Mooney at Barnesville Airport, had known Wittenbrook since 1972, a year before he obtained his pilot license.
He had worked part-time with Clyde at the airport for the last two years.
“I worked with Clyde and I know his ways,” Flanagan said.
Over the years, Flanagan has taken many people for their first airplane ride.
Deal said Flanagan was chosen for his varied experience — flying and owning an airplane and having worked with Wittenbrook, as well as his building maintenance experience. Flanagan has 19 years of experience int the heating business.
“We are looking at a lot of changes at the airport,” Deal said. He said there is a new automatic fuel system that allows customers to use a credit card.
“It is a nice airpot and is easy to land on,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said there has been some increased traffic at the airport due to the oil and gas industry. Deal said the oil and gas boom will impact the airport in other ways as 66-acres there have been leased, and he anticipates that some people who receive royalty money will buy an airplane.
Flanagan is also a musician and plays lead guitar in a band that performs every Friday at the senior center in Cadiz.
He and wife, Diana, are currently building a new home in Bethesda.
“Barnesville is a nice town and it is moving forward all the time,” Flanagan said.