Aviation science professor lands airport roleRiverside, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2022) – Dr. Daniel Prather, professor of aviation science, recently added a new role that will keep him grounded in aviation.

He became airport manager at the Riverside Municipal Airport on Sept. 30. He will continue to teach full time at CBU.

“I wake up every morning excited to get to the airport and get on the airfield,” Prather said.

He has been in education for 16 years, 10 of those at CBU where he started the aviation science program. He began his aviation career as assistant director of operations at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida.

“I really enjoy teaching. I enjoy helping my students be successful in the industry,” Prather said. “But I love airports, and to get back to airports and kind of my first love was an opportunity too good to pass up.”

The city of Riverside operates the airport, which has more than 150 tenants — individuals and companies that own aircraft — maintenance shops, several flight schools — including CBU’s — and a café. Additionally, the runways and taxiways need to be maintained, wildlife kept to a minimum and emergencies handled.

“Airports are really like small cities,” he said. “The airport manager oversees the operation of the entire airport.”

He admits to still figuring out how he’ll do both jobs. He will continue to teach 12 units per semester, but beginning in the spring, those will become mostly night classes.

“In the dynamic aviation environment, things are changing daily, and I can bring that back into the classroom,” Prather said.

In his first week, a plane had just departed when it started leaking oil. It returned, landing safely, with oil on the windshield and on the side of the aircraft. The cause was an oil filler tube lid that had not been secured tightly enough.

“I've always tried to stay active in the industry, but actually being on the field on a daily basis, I'll experience things and address issues that I can share with students,” Prather said. “They'll benefit from that current industry knowledge and experience.”

Students will also be able to conduct projects and ride along on airfield inspections.

“By bringing the airport into the classroom and bringing students out to the airport, there will be great opportunities for collaboration,” Prather said.

Working at the airport also will allow him to live out his faith.

“I know God will give me the discernment and the grace to really be light and salt,” Prather said. “I'm excited because I think if we're open to God’s leading, then He gives us additional opportunities and expands our territory so that we can have even greater influence than we currently have.”

His wife and two teenage children are understanding of his busy schedule, Prather said.

“My wife, Grace, is very supportive. At first, she questioned if I was crazy, which she's done in the past,” he said. “But she knows that I operate at a certain tempo and I love to be busy.”

Prather said he is thankful the city of Riverside and CBU leadership were open to him doing both jobs.

“By combining my two passions, the airport benefits, the city benefits but also the students benefit. It’s this win-win-win situation,” Prather said.

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