When Steve Israel took a position at the Schenectady County Airport, he didn't expect to work there long. He had just retired from the Niskayuna Central School District, where he had worked for 35 years.
Twenty-five years later, the former airport commissioner has retired again.
I didn't think I'd be here 25 years, said Israel, who retired in January. He admitted that, before his tenure at the Niskayuna School District, he didn't know very much about the area.
"I didn't even know what Schenectady was," said Israel. "I'm from New York City. I moved up here to go to Officer's Training School at Union College."
Israel described himself as a "very active young man" who always had a love for aviation. He said when he was born his mother told him that he would be an aviator. He received his pilot's license at the age of 16 and attended Aviation High School in Queens. His true education, however, Israel said, came from the military.
"I learned to fly in the service. I always wanted to fly, so that's why I joined the Navy to become a pilot," said Israel.
Even though he had a love of airplanes, it wasn't until 1985 that he made a career out of it " and this was only after he had retired from his 35-year career as an educator.
"I applied to the then County Manager Robert McEvoy and said, 'Bob, I'd like the job. I'd like to do it and please consider me," said Israel.
In 1986, Israel was appointed as commissioner of the Schenectady County Airport. Under Israel's leadership, the airport saw what he estimates to be about $20 million in improvements.
"The biggest project was the main runway being rebuilt for $5 million," said Israel. "If you have a working relationship with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], they have money to disperse every year that comes out of the taxes they get from airplane passengers and the sale of fuel," said Israel.