Marin County Airport in Novato has a new manager, Dan Jensen.
For the past 12 years Jensen was running airport services in Leadville, Colo., an airport best known for its altitude (9,927 feet), highest in North America. The contrast to Marin County could not be sharper, as Gnoss Field sits only two feet above sea level.
Dan’s new job comes with more pressure – air pressure, that is. Atmospherically speaking, a person living at 10,000 feet feels approximately one-third less weight than those of us who live at sea level. So Dan could say he has the highest pressure job in Marin County, and it would be literally true.
Managing an airport here or in Leadville has many similarities; but with an average of 268 flight operations per day here, Dan has more to do. A recent day found him manning phones, monitoring flight frequency, renewing tenant leases … and weed-wacking. Our thicker air may give him “go power” but can’t add time to his day or hands to his work load.
Dan received his bachelor of science degree in aviation administration from Metropolitan State College of Denver. He is a commercial pilot, a certified flight instructor, an FAA Safety FAASTeam Representative, and now manager of Marin’s Gnoss Field for the Marin County Department of Public Works.
Years in Colorado prepared Dan to be the hands-on manager expected of a modern municipal air facility. “I know how each department works from experience,” says Dan. “An airport the size of MCA needs a go-to manager on the grounds at least 40 hours per week.
“Novato has many more flying days than Leadville, so the day-to-day operations are both more complex and more rewarding,” he adds. “I love it here.”
William Wright built Marin County’s first airport in 1939, a graded dirt strip adjacent to the current site in north Novato. The first flight school was opened in 1946 by Woody Binford. But it was not until 1959 with the advocacy of Supervisor William Gnoss that the county purchased the land and set the new runway, ramp, and hangar locations as they are today.
Gnoss Field is currently home to nearly 200 private, corporate and public service aircraft which generate about $600,000 per year in county tax revenue.
Dan is not expected to “host” airport users and visitors; but as the only full-time denizen, he is the link between the people, the grounds, and the businesses. MCA is an FAA airdrome, federally chartered and regulated; but its use, privilege, and enjoyment belong to all Marin residents and visitors alike.