Pilots and state legislators attending Oklahoma’s Aviation and Aerospace Day at the Capitol Feb. 10 initiated the idea for a general aviation caucus, analyzed current legislation, and discussed the income and jobs generated by the Sooner State’s flying community.
AOPA Central Southwest Regional Manager Yasmina Platt partnered with the National Business Aviation Association to sponsor a lunch for lawmakers and stakeholders where she spent time with individual legislators and thanked them for their support.
Platt noted that Oklahoma’s GA industry accounts for a $12.5-billion economic impact and is responsible for 120,000 jobs with an average salary of $63,000. The state’s 110 publicly owned airports are home to 3,900 GA aircraft and 7,900 pilots.
In addition to a strong GA presence, Platt reminded legislators that Oklahoma also hosts large maintenance and repair facilities for commercial and military aviation sectors. American Airlines, Tinker Air Force Base, and the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center bring additional aviation jobs and benefits to the state, as do Northrop Grumman, Boeing, FlightSafety International, and others.
Earlier in the legislative session, AOPA sent a letter to Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-20th District) thanking him for introducing House Bill 2440, a measure that would keep wind turbines from being built within 3 miles of any runway. The current limit is 1.5 miles. Platt& also talked to legislators, including the House Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Weldon Watson (R-79th District), about the safety aspects of the bill. Platt complimented Watson for scheduling the bill for an early hearing.
The idea for a GA caucus in Oklahoma is beginning to take seed, Platt said, with at least a half-dozen bipartisan legislators joining the alliance. “It’s encouraging to see a diverse group of lawmakers looking out for general aviation and the communities it serves because GA is a bipartisan endeavor,” said Platt. Reps. Mike Brown (D-4th District) and Ann Coody (R-64th District) are leading the effort.
She also met with Airport Support Network volunteers Mark Haywood, representing Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City, and Don Heegel of Mid-America Industrial Airport in Pryor.
“Networking, strengthening AOPA’s relationships and contacts, and promoting and preserving GA is what Oklahoma’s annual Aviation and Aerospace Day is all about,” said Platt.