New manager pilots airport

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Grass roots general aviation drew Truckee man to the job of airport manager

By Carol A. Clark

The newly hired manager of Los Alamos County Airport felt an instant bond with the area the first time he piloted his red 1966 Piper Comanche 5-seater plane onto the local runway.  

“I love the altitude, the vistas and the environment, and the grass roots general aviation of the job, which is what I love, is what really drew me here. I’m very, very pleased to have been selected,” Peter Soderquist said, adding that his beloved 44-year-old airplane is aging well.

“The County of Los Alamos is very pleased that Peter was able to join our organization as the airport manager. Peter has a diversified portfolio of experience ranging from small to medium-sized general aviation airports and that experience will contribute to the accomplishment of a variety of projects that are currently underway,” County Administrator Tony Mortillaro said.

Those projects include storm drainage improvements and installation of fire hydrants as well as anticipated airport projects such as a runway extension, runway rehabilitation, construction of new lease hangars and likely in the future the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the airport terminal.

“Peter’s operational experience and focus on airport customers was an attribute that we felt was in concert with my focus on serving our constituents and customers with professionalism and providing quality services. Peter’s knowledge complements our past efforts to date in growing, maintaining and developing the airport now and into the future,” Mortillaro said.

Soderquist, 61, replaces David Ploeger who was selected as New Mexico Aviation Division Director in 2009.

Soderquist came from

Victorville, Calif., where he served as

director of Southern California Logistics Airport for the last nine years.  

Born an hour north of Manhattan, N.Y. in Mt. Kisco, Soderquist graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Technology from Parks College, which is part of the St. Louis University campus.

He entered the U.S. Air Force, straight out of college, discharging at the rank of captain in 1975.

His first airport job out of the military was managing the Lawrenceville-Vincennes Airport in Lawrenceville, Ill.

Soderquist’s experience also includes managing airports in the New York metropolitan area and Flagstaff and Scottsdale, Ariz. He served as director of aviation for the City of San Diego and as director of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport District.

Soderquist met his wife, Vicki, at an industry conference. She managed airports in Arizona at the time. They’ve been married for 20 years.

“She has been a city clerk since that time and we’ve been very lucky in that she’s been able to work as a city clerk in the neighboring towns where I’ve worked,” Soderquist said. “I think she’s going to look for something a little less stressful when she moves here.”

Soderquist moved to Los Alamos Jan. 11. His wife stayed behind in Truckee to close up the family home and get it on the market. She will join him here at that time, which he estimates to be around April 1.

Soderquist looks forward to her bringing their 10-pound, 2-year-old Bichon Frise, Merriweather.

The couple each has two grown children. His daughters live in California. The oldest, Thea, 39, works in Lupus research for a bio medical company in the San Francisco Bay area. His younger daughter, Heather, 36, works for an educational financial nonprofit organization in Petaluma.  

His stepsons are Michael, 39, and Allen, 29. Michael is serving a third tour of duty in Iraq. Allen manages a Whole Foods store in Reno, Nev., and lives in Truckee.

The Los Alamos County Airport was built in 1947 by the Atomic Energy Commission to serve the transportation needs of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. The airport is publicly owned and operated.