REDMOND, Ore. -

The Redmond Airport back in 1977 was nothing but a runway and a small building. Thirteen years later, as Central Oregon's population began to explode, Carrie Novick took over managing the airport and has overseen its own explosive growth ever since.

Until this June 30, when she retires, having played a major role in Central Oregon's aviation hub.

"We've been very, very lucky," Novick said Thursday. "The community has embraced the airport. We're very appreciative of that, and I personally am appreciative of that."

Explosive growth could be an understatement --- that small airport in 1990 grew to a 130,000-square-foot building completed last year, thanks to the efforts of congressional leaders, city councilors and the direction of Novick, who came in for some good-natured ribbing by dignitaries at last year's ribbon-cutting for her indefatigable spirit and campaign for the airport's future success.

"I think they understood what we were trying to do, and shared that vision with us and what it could be out here," Novick said.

Novick was the only airport worker when she arrived in 1990, but quickly oversaw many changes including hiring her current staff, getting better radar and building the FAA's control tower.

Over the years, the airport has added many more flights in and out of Redmond --- and made the flying the experience more and more like a big city airport --- helping to make it an even greater tourist destination.

There have been ups and downs -- most notably the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that grounded every plane in the country and turned the focus toward major security measures. An expansion that was on the verge of approval then was shelved for years, but Novick never gave up on that vision.

Even though Novick helped make the airport what it is today, she still sees it continuing to grow.

"It's going to be great," she said. "They are going to find somebody terrific that is going to recognize the importance of the airport to the region and where it goes next."

With the announcement of her retirement, Novick is happy with the legacy she leaves behind for the airport.

And for all the travelers who fly out --- her leadership will have a lasting mark on their trip.

Novick doesn't officially retire until June. When she does, Novick says that she is going to enjoy two things: one is carrying just two keys - the house key and a car key, and two, not having to worry about the snow and its impact on the traveling public.

Now, it wasn't her original idea, but one thing the airport has made some money on was the art that artists sell inside the airport. So far the airport has sold $100,000 worth of art.