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MAMA's History


By David W. Graham - MAMA Historian

Immediately following the end of hostilities after World War II, American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen began streaming back home to either pick up from where they had left their pre-war endeavors; or to continue what they had learned in the military in the area of trades, or to start life anew through the "G.I. Bill". What resulted was a rush of ex-servicemen flooding the job markets and educational institutions throughout the United States and Canada.

In the US, major growth in the transportation industry exploded at an amazing pace. Highways and rail transport were not alone in the growth and surge, for airport development was to outdistance itself by an amazing pace during the late 1940s, 50s, and on, well into the turn of the next century.

Proponents came to the realization that if the aviation trades failed to organize themselves into state and regional groups, airports would be left behind in the era of rapid post WWII transportation development.

And so it was that the Massachusetts Aviation Trades Association developed in the very late 1940s and early 50s. The "Trades Association", perhaps better known as "MATA", began its valiant effort at overseeing proper growth by working with governmental agencies for the betterment of the entire aviation industry. Fixed-Base-Operators and several airport managers began to work with local, state, and the federal government to build the Massachusetts airport system. These efforts continued into the 1960s when things began to falter within the MATA.

By the 1970s, it became obvious that a new approach was needed. If the aviation industry was to survive, Fixed-Operators, Airport Commissions and private owners, the various local, state and federal agencies, along with airport mangers, needed to pull together a sensible team to maintain oversight over it all - - - and not to go it alone on a one-on-one basis.

So, in the winter/spring of 1972, I called together a group of enterprising Massachusetts airport managers to create a new team with a renewed vision. Together, we organized the Massachusetts Airport Managers Association, which today is known as MAMA. Later we welcomed Airport Commission members as well as airport managers. Our new organization thrived with the continuing support of Crocker Snow, who was then the Director of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission.

In the early days of 1972, MAMA’s founding members included Charles "Chuck" Olson, the Manager of the Worcester Municipal Airport; and his Assistant Manager, Robert "Bob" Trainor. In that same group was William "Pinky" Prentice of Plymouth Municipal Airport and his Airport Commission Chairman, Melvin "Mel" Thomas, along with Isidore "Izzie" Eisinor of New Bedford Municipal Airport. Also in the early mix could be found Massachusetts Aviation Hall-of-Fame recipient, Arnold "Arnie" Stymest, who had spent many years at the former Braintree Airport and later became the manager at Norwood Municipal Airport. Between Boston and New Bedford, Don Dinneen and a few others operated small, single-runway airports that were offering support to the aviation community. In the western part of the state, Walter Koladza spent many years as the Great Barrington’s Airport Manager, while also running the FBO there. Also in western Massachusetts, Pittsfield Airport’s John Heaton served as both the Airport Manager and the manager of Greylock Airways which offered commuter service between Pittsfield and LaGuardia Airports. MAMA’ pioneers also included Harry Herman of Westfield Airport and Walter O'Connor of the former Agawam Airport & Seaplane Base.

Although there are fewer airports in Massachusetts today than there were forty years ago, MAMA, as an organization, has grown to meet the needs of today’s aviation industry in Massachusetts. To advocate for airport development and the communities we serve, membership now consists of airport managers and airport commissioners from nearly every airport within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And today we also welcome members of the FAA, MassDOT Aeronautics, engineering firms and aviation suppliers to advise and assist our efforts. And still true to our roots, MAMA remains a watch-dog for protecting airport approach surfaces, as we were founded to oversee and protect the vision of Safety of Flight and flight procedures.

Today, the Safety of Flight along with the development of safe and efficient flight procedures, remains paramount within the inner structure of the Massachusetts Airport Management structure. Accepting anything less is unacceptable.

I ask the reader to realize that although I was the instigator who pulled many of these highly talented people together, it was the airport managers of those early days - - - along with the many we have today - - - who have made it all work so nicely.

 Massachusetts Airport Management Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
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