by Paul Sullivan
as written for the Summer 2022 Virginia Eagles Newsletter
Dave Darrah spent 31 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a colonel and with more than 6,000 hours piloting both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
But that was in an earlier career. He’ll be retired for the second time at the end of July, this time from his post as director of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in Midland, where he’s left his mark on a fine new terminal building with state-of-the-art hvac and drinking water systems.
The latter system is complete and fully tested but-as of this writing awaits only final green-light from state officials to go into service as only the second rainwater-supplied potable public water system in Virginia, according to Darrah.
The water system collects rainwater from the new building’s roof, filters it at least four times, chlorinates it and treats it with ultra-violet light before storing it in a large tank beneath the structure for use.
“That’s the primary water system,” he said, “We have a well for backup.”
“It is newsworthy,” said Darrah, “It is state-of-the-art treatment and it’s kind of a big deal.”
It isn’t surprising that the man who pushed for construction of what he terms this “very green building,” at Warrenton-Fauquier, is a pilot’s pilot-someone with a long life in the world of aviation, if you look at his background. There, you find that as a young man he studied Building Construction as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, later graduating in 1974 with a BA in US History from the University of North Florida and launching a 31-year career in the Marine Corps.
After 30 years in the Corps, Darrah began a civilian career with several defense related businesses.
He took the director job for Fauquier County’s Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in 2012, where he notes that it was a short commute to his home in Stafford County.
At the airport, he oversaw construction of the two-story, 10,000-square-foot terminal building with a small environmental footprint. “It is green,” declares Darrah, who in 2015 was named Virginia Airport Manager of the Year by the state Department of Aviation.
Whatever he has been immersed in doing career-wise, Darrah has continued as an active flyer, holding a list of ratings including commercial, single and multi-engine, instrument and rotorcraft-helicopter tickets.
In leaving his Fauquier County job, Darrah and his wife, Kristi of Orlando, have also decided to leave their Stafford house and return to her home state.
Darrah, himself a Michigan native, said of the big changes they have set in motion now: “She followed me around all these years; now it’s my turn to follow where she wants to go.” And that will be to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where they will be closer to their three adults sons and six grandchildren.
One fundamental ingredient of his life, however, will not change. Dave Darrah is still flying. After all, he’s only 71.