Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating has signed a bill giving the state's Aeronautics Commission autonomy. The commission has been a part of the state Department of Transportation since 1976. But in that time, aviation has grown to a $12 billion industry in the state. Under the new law, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission will be a separate state agency, no longer part of DOT.
This is the culmination of a three-year effort led by AOPA Southwest Regional Representative Jerry Hooper, who has pushed tirelessly for the legislation. "Aeronautics was always having to compete with highways and other departments within DOT for recognition and funding," Hooper said. "Now they will have more flexibility and control over their own programs." Two previous attempts in the legislature to create a separate aviation entity had failed.
Oklahoma Aeronautics Director William "Bill" Miller, Ph.D. says the transition will occur July 1, and that the Aeronautics Commission will move to a new building. He is pleased with the action and is looking forward eagerly to what a separate commission will be able to do for aviation in Oklahoma.