orking at his job as operations manager at Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport for just a couple of weeks when he realized he’d taken on a big challenge.

The year was 2005, and Wilson, then 45, had just left his job as manager of the much smaller, slower-paced Brownwood Regional Airport. He’d worked there for 25 years.

On his new job at the Killeen airport, where Wilson is the No. 3 person, he was quickly inundated with projects and responsibilities. It was exciting — and intimidating, Wilson, now 54, recalled in a recent phone interview.

He reminded himself that he’d been seeking a challenge when he left the Brownwood airport. “You got it!” he told himself.

Wilson embraced the challenge and jumped into his responsibilities, adapting quickly. “It’s a lot different from what I had in Brownwood. I enjoy every minute of it,” Wilson said.

Wilson claims both Brownwood and Early as his hometowns. He attended school in both districts and graduated from Early High School in 1977.

Wilson was 21 when he started working at the Brownwood airport in 1980, and his job duties included mowing the grass and cleaning the toilets.

At age 25, he was promoted to assistant airport manager. In 2001, at age 41, Wilson was named manager of the airport.

In 2005, Wilson retired from the Brownwood airport and went to work as operations manager for the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. He and his wife, Teresa, were ready for something different.

“It’s just a good opportunity for me and my family,” Wilson said then. “It’s a good move for me personally and professionally.”

The Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport is one of two airports in Killeen. It is used by military and commercial traffic and is not a general aviation facility, Wilson said.

In August 2004, the city of Killeen relocated passenger service from Killeen Municipal Airport to new facilities at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, according to the airport’s website. The city of Killeen and the Army completed negotiations in 1999 on a joint use agreement that allowed Killeen to lease 76 acres of property in an area southeast of the runway at Robert Gray Army Airfield and allow civilian aircraft access to the runway.

About 400,000 people a year come through the airport, and there are 18 to 32 flights a day in and out of the airport, Wilson said.

He’s met nationally known people who have come through the airport including Bill Clinton, Robert Gates, John McCain and Sarah Palin, Gary Sinise and Emmitt Smith.

“It’s a lot different from what I had in Brownwood but I enjoy every minute of it,” Wilson said.

Wilson described the view of the ramp from his office as he talked by phone — a view that included three large Air Force cargo planes for flights to Afghanistan.

Fort Hood’s 21st Cavalry is among the entities that use the airport, Wilson said.

“Oh, I love it. I stay very, very busy,” Wilson said. “This is a beehive of activity.”

When asked to describe his job duties, Wilson laughed. “How much time have you got?” he asked. He summed up his job:

He’s responsible for the airport’s day-to-day operations. He deals with federal regulations and is the designated security coordinator. He is the airport’s liaison to the Transportation Security Administration and Killeen Police Department.

Wilson also has oversight of the 24/7 operations center and monitors its cameras and radios, and oversees the office that issues badges and performs background checks, and oversees construction projects — 15 projects totaling $35 million in his nearly nine years on the job.

“And then in my spare time …” Wilson said with another laugh.

His phones ring constantly, and there are usually people waiting outside his office to see him on airport business, Wilson said.

Wilson, who is an ordained minister, is also on the staff of a church in Temple.

While he and his wife are enjoying this chapter of their lives, Wilson said, he hasn’t forgotten Brown County. He has “absolutely” good memories of Brown County and the Brownwood airport, Wilson said.