Washington-Warren Airport Director resigns

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Washington-Warren Airport Director, Earl Malpass, has resigned, he confirmed on Tuesday, May 21. Malpass will be leaving at the end of the month to take a similar administrative position at a large airport in Anchorage, Alaska.

“It’s time for new leadership, and I had an offer that I can’t refuse,” Malpass said. “For the sake of my family and my wellbeing – I just figured it was a good time to leave after finishing up one project and let new leadership take over this second project.”

Malpass shared that he “did not intend” on staying at Washington-Warren for six years; he planned to stay for a couple of years. First came the pandemic then the airport received a $20 million grant from the state for infrastructure improvements. Malpass felt he needed to stay in Washington to “complete the job.”

Malpass was hired in October of 2017 to manage Washington-Warren. Under his leadership, the airport was awarded $20 million in state funding to transform and modernize a complex that was constructed in the 1940’s by the United States Navy. The money was divided among 11 different infrastructure projects which included improvement to taxiways, additional hangar space, improve instrument landing system to better assist pilots when landing and find better air space in inclement weather.  With help from Representative Keith Kidwell, the airport secured the funding in December of 2021.

When the North Carolina General Assembly passed the state budget last September, it was announced that the airport would be given a one-time allocation of $13.5 million at the beginning of 2024. Again, the funding going to capital improvement projects such as  construction of a state-of-the-art data center and proposed industrial park at the airport. Kidwell assisted the airport in securing the money.

“I wish the airport and the city all the best, Malpass said, “I think they are set up for success.”

He continued to explain that “two major aerospace” companies have signed letters of interest as a sign they want to grow their businesses here. He said many of the upcoming projects are outlined, and five of those projects are in the engineering process.

Malpass has no hard feelings as he makes his way to Alaska. He said City Manager Jonathan Russell and City Council have been “helpful and supportive.”

He thanks the city, airport authority volunteers and airport staff for trusting him to steer the airport in the right direction, helping it set and attain goals.

Malpass is an Eastern North Carolina native who lived in Alaska for 17 years working as a pilot, aircraft mechanic and aircraft inspector. He gave support to churches across the state that “were not on the road system.” Malpass said he is “looking forward to going back, and being part of that ministry again.

Malpass’ advice for the next Washington-Warren Airport Director is, “to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money, to be an expert and know the rules and make sure the city and the airport staff, the volunteers of the authority board follow those rules.”

If in eight years into the future, Malpass were to receive an update on what’s happening at Washington-Warren, he hopes to hear that the two aforementioned aerospace businesses “are flourishing” and “there’s 1,000 new jobs on the airport and the airport is self-sustaining and still growing.”