Ryan Huotari, a Richland County native, is the new airport manager for the Sidney-Richland Airport.
Richland County native Ryan Huotari has always loved aviation, and he has recently been hired to serve as the airport manager for the Sidney-Richland airport.
Huotari replaces Terrance Ward, who left the position because of a good career opportunity. Ward’s final day on the job was Aug. 13, and Huotari took over the duties on Aug. 15.
“He’s done a lot in aviation,” Walt McNutt, a member of the airport authority, said about Huotari. “He’s work on airplanes in the past and has a lot of hands-on experience both with the books and on the line.”
Huotari’s experience includes being the assistant airport manager during 2011.
“I’ve been around it since 1997,” Huotari said of airport work.
The 1995 Sidney High School graduate earned a two-year degree in Williston. While attending classes there, Huotari worked for the airline and served as the fixed base operator at the airport.
He then moved to Utah in order to attend flying school. During that time, he ran the fuel department for the airport in Provo, Utah. Huotari went on to earn his bachelors degree in aviation/professional pilot from Utah Valley University. He has a minor in marketing/management.
While working at the airport in Utah, Huotari also performed flight instruction. “One of my flight instructors did home loans and was overwhelmed by that. So I helped him out and did that for years.”
But when Huotari came to eastern Montana for a visit in October 2012, he heard the position of assistant airport manager was open. “I was ready to get back home.”
He served as assistant manager from November 2010 to January 2012. He then took a position with EOG Resources. He said it was difficult to leave the company and co-employees to become airport manager.
“Aviation is definitely where my heart is,” Huotari said.
He is proud of the airport that is provided in Sidney. The airport has more deplanements than any other Montana airport east of Billings.
“Getting more people interested in flying would be great,” Huotari said. “It’s a great airport. It’s cheaper to land here than in some of the ones close to our area.”
He noted new hangar spots are available. The airport also features a new taxiway.
“There’s been a lot of changes since I was here in 2011,” Huotari said. “It’s a lot busier.”
Huotari is excited about the Wings of Freedom Air Show to take place in Sidney on Sept. 24-25.
Huotari and his wife, Keela, have a 17-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.
During their free time, the family enjoys water skiing and boating at Fort Peck. They also keep busy attending hockey tournaments and dance competitions.
“It’s great to be back,” Ryan said. “It’s nice to raise my kids in this environment. It’s great to be home.”