Samuel Allen doesn’t know what got him interested in aviation. No one in his immediate or extended family that he knows of is a pilot or worked in the field. His parents supported his interest by taking him to air shows. And so did the Dallas Independent School District, which selected Allen for its career internship in August 2006, the start of his senior year.
The district had never had an aviation intern, Allen remembers, so it contacted Addison Airport, which said it would gladly help create one. Expecting little more than a couple of airplane mechanics selling gas, his semester at Addison was an eye-opener. “I learned first-hand about all the different activities at a busy general aviation airport and the contributions it makes to the economy,” he said. He spent time with every airport department from real estate, accounting, and operations to time in the control tower and with the airport tenants.
An eager and proactive student, Allen wrangled extra time with the Cavanaugh Flight Museum and Million Air Dallas. The connections he made there landed Allen a job at Million Air Salt Lake City, where he worked his way through Westminster College, a small liberal arts school with an aviation program. Working full time, before he graduated with his degree in aviation management, he went from pumping gas to a line service supervisor.
From high school on, Allen set his aviation sights on becoming an airline pilot. He enrolled in Westminster’s flight program. As he earned his private pilot license, he learned more about an airline pilot’s life and decided it wasn’t for him, so he transferred to aviation management. He now flies for fun, and Addison’s Monarch Air is now his home base.
Flying from Addison also achieved another of his aviation goals, to aviate at the airports where he’s worked. Next up are Meacham and Dallas-Love, where Allen is now an air branch airport operations officer. Graduating in 2011, he applied to three airports, all in Texas. He credits his internships at Addison and his years of experience at Million Air as important factors that led Meacham to offer him a position.
Allen took his current position at Love Field in August 2013, where much of his work is preparing for the end of the Wright Amendment this coming October. Looking beyond that, “airport operations is where I want to stay,” Allen said. “I’m better suited to dealing with the technical aspects of the airport business,” and one day “I see myself as an airport director of operations.”