At the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s August 7 meeting, a proclamation was presented to the Commission from the office of Governor J. Kevin Stitt declaring the entire month of August “Oklahoma Aviation and Aerospace Awareness Month”.
The state’s first-ever Oklahoma State Aviation & Aerospace Day was celebrated on August 19, 2018, after the passage of a measure placing it into state law during the 2017 legislative session. The date runs concurrent to National Aviation Day which was originally declared on August 19, 1939, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation encouraging citizens to observe the day with activities that promote interest in aviation.
Some 80 years since the first national proclamation, Governor Stitt, a private pilot himself, penned this month’s proclamation to continue to express the importance of powered flight across the state, nation and world by commemorating and celebrating the rich heritage of aviation in Oklahoma.
Aviation and aerospace in Oklahoma supports 206,000 jobs. The Aviation and Aerospace sector supports nearly $44 billion in annual economic activity and is the second largest industry in the state.
As noted in the proclamation, aviation has been with the Sooner state since statehood as Clyde Cessna performed test flights of his early aircraft in western Oklahoma. Oklahoma established a rich aviation and aerospace heritage as business aviation began in the state when Frank Phillips, W.G. “Bill” Skelly, and other oilmen found that the fastest most efficient way to get to their oilfields was with an airplane. Several of the first commercial airlines were founded here; Braniff, and the first Southwest, Southwest Air Fast Express, started by Erle Halliburton. They both became part of a fledgling airline at the time—American Airways.
Oklahoma is well served by the state’s 104 general aviation airports and 4 commercial airports. Of those airports, 45 are jet-capable, meaning they have at least a 5,000 foot runway which is more jet-capable airports per capita than any other state, with 95% of our state’s population living within 30 minutes of a jet-capable airport.
Oklahoma is now recognized as one of the seven centers in the world for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft. Oklahoma hosts the world’s largest military aircraft repair facility, Tinker Air Force Base, and commercial aircraft repair facility, the American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa.
The proclamation also highlights that the future of a safe, secure, efficient and progressive aviation and aerospace industry is dependent on energizing state and national policies, well informed and educated citizens, a technology proficient workforce, bold pioneering research, ingenuity, perseverance and courage.
The Commission is dedicated to ensuring that the needs of commerce and communities across Oklahoma are met by the state’s 108 publicly owned airports that comprise the Oklahoma Airport System, ensuring the growth and vitality of the state’s aerospace industry.
This August, citizens are asked to devote some portion of the state’s Oklahoma Aviation and Aerospace Awareness Month to honor the achievements of Oklahomans in aviation and aerospace.
Oklahomans are encouraged to visit museums about aviation history and technology such as the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford, or the 99’s Museum of Women Pilots in Oklahoma City.