Star City Six – Chad Lay
The Lincoln Airport Authority (www.lincolnairport.com) is responsible for every aspect of developing, managing, and maintaining the Lincoln Airport. Chad Lay is the director of planning and development for the Lincoln Airport Authority.
Tell us a little about your business.
Our duties encompass a wider array of activities than many people realize. This includes maintaining three runways, 12 taxiways, and all of the associated systems on nearly 2,500 acres of airfield; managing the Terminal Building and maintaining the surrounding infrastructure to facilitate commercial air service for the Lincoln community; overseeing the General Aviation area of the airport, which serves as home to several aviation-related businesses; and developing the Industrial Park on the west side of the airport. In many ways, an airport can compare to a microcosm of a city, with its own departments of public works, planning, finance, and police. All of these departments are working toward the goal of growing the aviation services and businesses available to the local community.
How did you get started in the business?
I started working for the Lincoln Airport 15 years ago in the operations department. Over the years, I’ve worked my way up through several different roles within the organization, from maintenance to engineering, and now planning.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I enjoy getting some fresh air outdoors, pursuing activities such as hunting, biking, running, and skiing. I also enjoy backpacking.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk—specifically for his ability to take seemingly far-fetched, imaginative ideas and turn them into fully-functioning, reliable, and marketable technology. While I won’t mention them all, there are several other prominent science, technology, engineering, and mathematics leaders throughout the country that I admire. Who said American innovation and industry are dead?
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
To fly like Superman. Which, ironically, would eliminate my need to use an airport! Although, it has always bothered me that most flying superheroes don’t wear goggles.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I were a more gifted public speaker. I’ve always been in awe of people who seem at ease and comfortable while addressing a large group of people.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. It was written in a truly original style, and it describes a fascinating period of our country’s history from a unique perspective.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
Lately, I’ve been enjoying enchiladas mole at Hacienda Real. When I’m in the mood for something different, I’ll stop by Tandoor Indian Cuisine and order lamb madras.
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be?
I have always wanted to be able to talk to one of our country’s founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson. I think it would be interesting to get their take on many of the challenges that democracy faces in a modern republic. I’d also be curious to know if they are surprised by how long the country has lasted, and by the extent to which the country has grown and succeeded.
If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so?