OGDEN -- Although a former city council candidate has been hired as Ogden-Hinckley Airport's new manager, some pilots would prefer that current manager Ed Rich remain.
Royal Eccles, who lost to incumbent Councilwoman Amy Wicks in the 2007 election, will take over as airport manager Aug 1.
He was chosen over 26 other candidates and will be paid about $80,000 annually, said Richard McConkie, the city's executive director of community and economic development.
Eccles, 54, will succeed Rich, who will step down at the end of the month after a decade at Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
At least 90 people have signed a petition asking Mayor Matthew Godfrey and the city council to retain Rich.
David Rampton, one of the petition signers, said some pilots question whether Eccles, who is president of Management Sciences Corp., an Ogden-based medical billing software company, has enough experience to run Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
"I hang out at the airport an awful lot," he said. "Everyone I talk to and the pilots out there say they don't think he's qualified."
David Schamber, who is a pilot, said he would prefer that the city keep Rich because he's a nice guy who is knowledgeable about airport operations.
Rich could not be reached for comment regarding Eccles' appointment.
Ed Willard, another pilot who regularly uses Ogden-Hinckley Airport, said he believes Eccles will do a good job because he's honorable and is a successful businessman.
"He'll do the right thing," Willard said. "I think he will probably ruffle some feathers because some things haven't been kept up out here."
It's not unexpected that some pilots are second-guessing Eccles' hiring, McConkie said, because the same thing happened when Rich was brought in.
"The same concerns were expressed when we hired Ed," he said. "It's the way it is."
A job description from the city for the airport manager post states the position requires at least five years of experience in airport operations, management and economic expansion or equivalent experience.
The candidate should also have experience with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, grant submission, lease negotiations and fiscal management, according to the description.
Eccles said, as a pilot for 33 years and as a member of the city's Airport Advisory Committee for 14 years, he's well-versed in Ogden-Hinckley Airport operations.
"I think I represent the regular pilots as well as the hangar owners, and represent the commercial side," he said.
Eccles, a longtime Ogden resident, has a bachelor's degree in computer technology from Weber State University.
He said one of his immediate goals as airport manager will be to land commercial jet service.