At its meeting on Wednesday, July 14, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission recognized former District 3 Commissioner Michael Ray and former District 5 Commissioner Dave Amis, III by presenting them with an authentic runway light converted into an award and plaque. Former Commissioner Amis was one of the longest-serving commissioners with 24 years of dedicated service to the state and former Commissioner Ray served from 2011 until 2020. Both commissioners have been avid aviators for many years, using aircraft in their businesses, and advocating for the enhancement of the aviation and aerospace industry for the areas they served. “We wish them well and hope to see them continuing their service to aviation and aerospace down the flight path,” said State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies.
Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz informed commissioners about the “Cost Savings, Value & Efficiency Award” received by the Transportation cabinet at the 3rd Annual Governor’s Leadership Summit in June. The cabinet is one of seven state agencies to receive recognition this year and this award is specific to the cabinet’s year-long modernization effort. Secretary Gatz addressed commissioners and said, “We have always worked together closely, but we are going to take that to the next level. We are going to begin to realize capabilities that we have not had before.”
The commission was updated on the agency’s legislative initiatives that were signed into law now that the 2021 legislative session has concluded. Policy issues such as revising the accreditation language for the engineer tax credits for aerospace, developing the agency as the state’s unmanned aerial systems clearinghouse, and a $2 million appropriation for statewide airport infrastructure improvements were all considered as legislative successes for the aviation and aerospace industry.
Ardies reported on the state of the aviation, aerospace, and airport industries including the recent dedications of new runways at Skiatook Municipal Airport and Ponca City Regional Airport. He also highlighted other events which occurred this summer including the Mint Turbines 40th anniversary celebration, strategic planning meetings at airports across the state at Stroud and Durant, and the Skydio Demonstration at the Choctaw Nation’s Daisy Ranch.
With construction season thriving, the commission approved several state grants for projects in the 5-year Airport Construction Program which will support needed improvements for the Oklahoma Airport System. A $735,612 state grant was awarded to Ardmore Municipal Airport to support the overall $1.8 million project to rehabilitate runway 13/31 pavement and install LED runway lights. The commission also awarded a $683,163 state grant for Boise City Municipal Airport’s $1.9M project to rehabilitate runway 18/36 and install LED runway lights. Elk City Regional Airport received $404,954 in state funding to support the almost $1 million project to install LED runway lights, visual glideslope lighting known as PAPIs, and a weather reporting system. Lastly, Thomas P. Stafford Airport (Weatherford) received a $500,000 state grant to construct a new terminal building that will be located adjacent to the newly renovated Thomas P Stafford Air and Space Museum.
In total, the commission awarded $2,323,729 of state funding to support overall projects exceeding $6.3 million. These projects will go to support aviation and air transportation across our state, providing needed infrastructure investment to ensure the airports can be the best economic development tools possible for these four communities. “Whether you’re an aerospace business based at an airport, a business that simply uses aircraft in your daily operations, or the recreational weekend warrior pilot, these infrastructure investments will benefit the public and are vital to the success of the airport system,” said Ardies.