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April 11, 2021

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Working in Clark County: Laureano Mier, Pearson Field Education Center director

By , Columbian News Assistant
Published:
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Laureano Mier, director of Pearson Airfield's Education Center, talks about his life-long passion for aviation.
Laureano Mier, director of Pearson Airfield's Education Center, talks about his life-long passion for aviation. Photo Gallery

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Laureano Mier became interested in aviation at age 8. Now 53 years old, Mier is passionate about everything aviation and the historical importance of Fort Vancouver’s Pearson Airfield. “The moment I built my first model airplane I knew I had to be involved with aviation,” he says. “I want people to know that Pearson is the first airport in the Pacific Northwest and one of the oldest operating air fields in the world.”


Name:
Laureano Mier.


Job/employer:
Fort Vancouver National Trust.


Age:
53.

It all started with a model airplane: After I built a model airplane, I picked up an aviation magazine and found an ad for the Academy of Model Aeronautics. I signed up and became a member. That was 45 years ago. I admire this great organization’s mission to educate. The AMA is a nonprofit organization promoting model aviation as a recognized sport as well as a recreational activity. There are two clubs in Clark County.


Education/professional background: I
received my pilot’s license when I was 17 years old. I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida with a degree in aviation administration. After graduating from college, I worked in California in airline administration, starting as a ticket agent and finally as analysis and control manager for all United States and Canadian operations for Mexicana Airlines. I was director of education at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore., for two years in 2005-2007. Prior to being hired as manager of Pearson Air Museum, I ran an aerial imaging business and also an aviation education program. I have found Pearson is a good fit for me. I have been here 3 1/2 years, and it has been a wonderful place to work. I started as manager and now am director of aviation education programs.

Education center: The museum management changed hands from the trust to the National Park Service. The education center relocated to an airplane hangar at Pearson Field after moving out of Pearson Air Museum a year ago. During the transition, the educational programs for local high schools and other students continued with volunteers and program staff. I want people to know that Pearson is the first airport in the Pacific Northwest and one of the oldest operating airfields in the world.

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Most rewarding part of job: It is very rewarding to learn what students have achieved after attending our summer camps here at the airfield. For example, some are pilots, such as Kaela Harnett, who has more than 2,000 flight hours. She received a 2004 private pilot scholarship from our education department. Harnett worked for Evergreen International Aviation, where she was based in London, and now is with Precision LLC, which owns an airstrip outside Newberg, Ore. I love seeing kids flourish.


Most challenging part of job:
Making sure that we are reaching as many students as we can. We are beginning a program for students at the Washington School for the Deaf and have one of their students ready to solo. We are developing a hands-on program at the Washington State School for the Blind, and we work with the Daybreak Youth Program. Our volunteers are great, and we couldn’t do it without them. They are the fabric that makes our program successful.

Something you would like to do over: I absolutely would not do anything over. I love aviation. I built my first model airplane at age 8 and knew I had to be involved with aviation. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at the library and lived in Section 629. (Dewey Decimal Classification: 629.04 transportation engineering; 629.10 aerospace engineering; 629.4. astronautics).


Residence:
Hudson’s Bay neighborhood.

Best feature of my Vancouver/Clark County community: I like the community involvement in our program here. The amount of support we get from the businesses in the area of aeronautics is wonderful. It comes from local people and businesses to large corporations like Alaska Airlines.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Ginger Pop and Grant House, Ice Cream Renaissance and breakfast at Christine’s Restaurant.


Hobbies:
I like flying radio-controlled airplanes with the Fern Prairie Modelers at the Port of Camas, exercising, riding my bicycle, cooking and reading.

Volunteer activities: I have been a volunteer firefighter and have volunteered at schools, and with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.


Favorite travel destination:
Joseph, Ore., and Wallowa Lake.


Most interesting book in past 12 months:
A book about the history of the Douglas World Cruisers.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele virtuoso and composer.

One thing you want to do this year: I would like to see an expansion of our aviation programs in the community. We are already working on a plan where kids build their own radio-controlled airplanes, learn to fly them and then get to take them home. We weave the history of Pearson Field into our programs.


Something you want to do within five years:
This year the Pearson Field Education Center was recognized by the Washington Aviation Association for its Northwest Spirit of Aviation Airport Award for 2014. I would like to get worldwide recognition for our programs.

One word to describe yourself: Passionate.

Person you’d most like to meet: Burt Rutan, aeronautic engineer; and Jessica Cox, the only pilot with no arms who is licensed to fly.

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