Humans of Oulu Airport: Airport veteran Mikko Santaniemi

People & Aviation
Published
30.1.2018 - 09:00
Mikko Santaniemi
Mikko Santaniemi has worked at Oulu Airport’s maintenance since the early 1970s. He was even present during the infamous plane hijacker Aarne Lamminparras landed at Oulu Airport in 1978.

”I started working at Oulu Airport back in 1973 as a maintenance worker. This was a much smaller place then: the terminal has been expanded many times since, the runways renovated, and the maintenance equipment is entirely different nowadays.

Now, I am the maintenance crew’s shift manager. On a typical day in the winter, I measure the friction levels on the runways and instruct the crew on how they should use the brush blowers and snow blowers to keep the runways in the best shape.

In addition to running the maintenance crew, I have several other permits for other capacities at the airport, such as rescue and firefighting tasks. If there’s a fire emergency at the airport, the airport’s own crew will be first on the scene to start the rescue operation, and instruct the fire department when they arrive on the scene. For instance, the smoke diving permit requires that I keep up my condition and pass a strict physical fitness test each year. I’ve stayed in pretty good shape, and even started running half marathons in my sixties.

The wildest memory from my career was back in September 1978. I was on shift when the infamous Finnish airplane hijacker Aarno Lamminparta made his descent into Oulu Airport. There were tons of police officers and a SWAT team present, and I was on standby in the fire truck, ready for action should there be shots fired – and an ensuing fire emergency - when Lamminparras exited the plane. It was a tough situation, but thankfully there were no casualties or damages caused in the end.

I’m now 67 years old. I could have retired years ago, but as I’ve stayed in good shape and the work has been pleasant, I haven’t had reason to leave the airport quite yet. You could say that I’m on the final stretch of my flight, but not quite sure yet when the last landing will be.”

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