Grevious Lands At Muskegon

June 5, 2002
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MUSKEGON — As a boy growing up in Muskegon, he often rode his bike three miles from his home to Muskegon County Airport so he could stand along the fence and watch DC-3s prepare for takeoff.

The sound and sight of the smoke emanating from the old-style radial engines fascinated Terry Grevious, who still today pauses periodically to look out his office window and watch a jetliner fire up its turbine engines, scream down the runway and lift off into the sky.

“I just love airplanes. I’ve just always been fascinated by them,” said Grevious, who for more than two decades has managed the airport where he once hung out for hours at a time as a boy watching the planes take off and land.

“It used to stand there for hours with my head stuck to the fence. It was amazing to me,” the 53-year-old Grevious said.

Grevious returned to his hometown in 1980 to take the job as Muskegon County Airport’s director after several years serving in the military and working elsewhere. He came back home after working for a year as assistant project manager for Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergen, a Florida aviation consulting firm that was working on the development of the Fort Meyers, Fla. airport.

Grevious initially thought he’d stay with Muskegon County for four years or so, before moving on to a larger facility in a larger market. That notion eventually faded, with the current position never lacking in professional challenges and living in his hometown to his liking.

“I’m more of a small-town person,” Grevious said. “It just never appealed to me to move on.”

During his tenure as director, Muskegon County Airport has grown steadily and now handles more than 80,000 takeoffs and landings annually. Catering primarily to business travelers headed for connecting flights at major airline hubs in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee, the airport has seen more than $20 million in improvements in the past decade and is planning an additional $8 million over the next five years, including a runway extension.

The airport also hopes to expand flight service in the near future, he said.

Despite that growth, as well as the growth in Muskegon and neighboring Ottawa and Kent counties, Grevious sees Muskegon County Airport always remaining a niche facility that offers a convenient alternative to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, the region’s primary commercial airport.

“We’ll never be of the size of Gerald R. Ford and we don’t intend it to be,” he said.

An engine mechanic and pilot in the U.S. Air Force who flew F-4 Phantoms, Grevious originally wanted to become a commercial airline pilot. He enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era after graduating from high school, rather than wait for his draft notice, so he could have more choice over his military service.

His ideas of flying for commercial airlines after earning his wings in the military came to an end when, after being accepted to the U.S. Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., he was diagnosed with a vision problem. Grevious then pursued a different career in aviation, earning a degree in aviation administration from Florida Tech while he worked as production supervisor at Piper Aircraft Corp. in Vero Beach, Fla.

Grevious later became assistant director of aeronautics at Flint Bishop Airport from 1974 to 1979 before returning to Florida to work at Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergen, where he worked for a year before pursuing and landing the job as Muskegon County Airport’s director.

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