We join Richmond International Airport in bidding a fond farewell to longtime president and CEO Jon E. Mathiasen. During his 19 years serving the airport, Mathiasen oversaw the transformation of Byrd Terminal into a modern and efficient airport. Improvements under his tenure include a new air traffic control tower, a new two-level passenger terminal, additional parking and far more options for passenger travel. Under his leadership, RIC has seen passenger traffic continue to set records. As Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism, noted in the RTD last December, “He took a small airport and made it a huge asset for not only central Virginia but Virginia as a whole.” Mathiasen’s retirement will be effective Aug. 19. His successor, Perry J. Miller, comes to Richmond with more than 25 years of airport management experience. After a long career of moving from airport to airport, Mathiasen says he and his wife are looking forward to spending time together. We wish them a long, happy and relaxing retirement.
Speaking of flying, do new regulations mean Nellie needs a passport? In response to growing safety and health concerns from the flying public and professional airline organizations on the anything-goes approach as to what constitutes a service animal, on Aug. 8, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released its final statement on the matter. “After reviewing the comments on this issue, we believe that it would be in the public interest and within our discretionary authority to prioritize ensuring that the most commonly recognized service animals (i.e., dogs, cats, and miniature horses) are accepted for transport,” says the USDOT. “We stated that while we will focus on ensuring the transport of dogs, cats and miniature horses, we may take enforcement action against carriers for failing to transport other service animals on a case-by-case basis.” While the statement doesn’t demand airlines fly every mini-equine, it does hint at penalties if carriers are found in violation. Domestic airlines have 30 days to ensure they are in compliance and able to accommodate service canines, felines and tiny horses. Thankfully, USDOT has decreed that airlines may still deny transport “to certain unusual species of service animals such as snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders.” That’s a relief. It’s bad enough we might have to fly in a barnyard. A zoo would be worse.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) needs your help. In an effort to preserve the legacy of all who gave their last full measure in Vietnam, the group has created an online Wall of Faces. This virtual wall features a page dedicated to every person whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The VVMF hopes to post a photograph to accompany each of the more than 58,000 names. They are missing pictures of four men from Richmond: Kenneth George Clark Jr., Charles Linwood Cordle, Thomas Amiss Fox and Thomas Leandra Herring. If you have a picture of one of them or know someone who does, the photo may be uploaded at www.vvmf.org/wall-of-faces or call (202) 393-0090 for assistance.
Congratulations to St. Mary’s middle school teacher Peter Tlusty on his NASA presentation. The educator, who describes himself as a “space nut,” was selected to present at the agency’s second annual SPACE Conference for Educators hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. The conference, held July 24-26 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, provided teachers from around the country with interactive, state-of-the-art presentations and exhibits from astronauts and NASA scientists and engineers. Tlusty’s presentation, “Teaching Aeronautics in Middle School,” offered attendees new methods on teaching aeronautics to middle school students. The Henrico school teacher is no stranger to space exploration and flight. Last year, St. Mary’s Cubes in Space Technology Club, sponsored by Tlusty, was selected to send three science experiments into space aboard a rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility. We hope Tlusty’s enthusiasm continues to ignite a “burn to learn” within his students at the Catholic school. Fellow Catholic Nicolaus Copernicus would be delighted.
Eighty years ago Saturday, “The Wizard of Oz,” the most viewed movie of all time, opened at Loews Theater in New York. The groundbreaking 1939 film is legendary for its cinematic innovations, still-popular quotes, unforgettable characters and timeless music. The epic tornado, created by using a 35-foot muslin sock connected to a steel crane, remains unparalleled by any CGI image today. The beloved film is an adaption of the children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum. There’s still no place like home.
— Robin Beres