After 20 years, Douglas Hammon has left his position of director of the Ohio State University Airport to become director of applied research and development at Sinclair Community College’s National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center in Dayton.

His last day at the West Case Road airport was Dec. 2.

Hammon, 53, said he would work with both public- and private-sector entities to develop policies and procedures for the use of drone technology and oversee research projects that identify best practices for integrating drones into daily tasks.

“We want to make sure, whatever happens, we definitely want to keep using (the drone technology), but we want to make it safe for everyone to use it,” Hammon said.

When Hammon left with little fanfare, it caught some in the community by surprise.

Marilyn Goodman, a member of the Northwest Civic Association and liaison to the airport’s master-planning committee, said she was unaware Hammon had left.

“We had a very good relationship with him,” Goodman said. “And he was always responsive.”

She said she wonders if the neighborhood will have the kind of positive rapport with new management, as the airport continues to grow.

“It’s looking bigger, and it’s getting bigger, and it’s looking more industrial,” Goodman said. “And you don’t usually have that in a residential neighborhood.”

A $16 million terminal opened about a year ago, and three additional hangars – one for private corporations and two for general aircraft aviation – are under construction.

Hammon said he did not intend to snub the NWCA about his desire to leave. The timing just was not right for a formal goodbye, he said.

“My departure was something that I was working on for a while,” Hammon said.

“I was hoping to make one last appearance at an NWCA meeting to announce to them my departure, but finalizing the offer from this end and announcing my departure on that end didn’t allow for much variation in the schedule.”

Meanwhile, the Ohio State airport has not begun a process to fill the director’s position, said Stephanie Morgan, now executive director of the airport.

Morgan said she and the airport’s management team are filling duties of director in the meantime.

She said the facility’s management would maintain a strong relationship with the community.

Morgan said the master-planning process would continue to include input from the NWCA. The document is expected to be adopted this summer, she said.

“I look forward to working with the community,” Morgan said. “It’s a gem. The airport is a gem.”