Oklahoma’s Booming Aviation Industry Brings National Association of State Aviation Officials Annual Convention to Oklahoma City

NATIONWIDE –The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), one of the oldest aviation associations in the country, will land in Oklahoma City this weekend as Governor Mary Fallin welcomes them to Oklahoma at the opening session on Monday.  Aviation and Aerospace is Oklahoma’s second largest industry and this annual conference held Sunday, September 23-Wednesday, September 26, 2018, at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, promises an impressive agenda featuring aviation professionals from across the country, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and nationally recognized speakers such as Congressman Steve Russell and former Oklahoma Attorney General, Mike Turpen.

NASAO members are state government officials that oversee their airport systems in their respective states and direct federal and state funding for airport infrastructure projects. The organization represents all fifty state aviation agencies in addition to Guam and Puerto Rico. Oklahoma was one of the founding 16 states of NASAO in 1931.

“Aviation has a rich heritage in Oklahoma.  Clyde Cessna started in Oklahoma. Wiley Post was the first pilot to fly solo around the world and he invented the space suit. Two of the first commercial airlines were founded here in the 1930s. Business aviation began here with oilmen like Frank Phillips hiring pilots like Post to fly them to their oil fields. Oklahoma has produced more astronauts than any other state, among them are Gordon Cooper, and Tom Stafford. Parts for every space program have been manufactured in Oklahoma,” said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

“Today, Oklahoma is one of the seven centers in the world for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft (MRO). Tinker AFB is the world’s largest military aircraft repair facility. The American Airlines Maintenance Base in Tulsa is the world’s largest commercial aircraft repair facility. AAR Aircraft Services, the world’s largest third-party provider of MRO has one of its largest facilities at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. Military aviation, the 108 airports in the Oklahoma Airport System and the over 400 businesses on the airports, and the 870 off-airport aviation and aerospace businesses produce almost $44 billion in annual economic activity making Aviation and Aerospace the second largest industry in the state. The industry supports 206,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $11.7 Billion and an average salary of $73, 300,” added Bird. The theme of this year’s annual convention is “Oklahoma—Aircraft Repair Capital of the World.”

For 87 years, state aviation officials have hosted the annual convention in many states and addressed best practices in capital planning and programming to ensure safer and more efficient airports, aviation workforce challenges, airport funding from the FAA, zoning to protect airports and airspace, air traffic management, aviation education, and many other important issues for the aviation industry. This year, attendees will hear sessions regarding the reauthorization of the FAA and its airport improvement program, additional federal funding of $1 billion for airport funding, best practices of several states, state aviation taxes and public-private partnerships to fund needed infrastructure improvements at airports. 

Over 47 exhibitors are slated to fill the Grand Ballroom of the Skirvin, one of the state’s most luxurious and historic hotels.  The over 275 attendees will enjoy the best of Oklahoma City’s renewed downtown attractions including lunch at Vast.  Excursions will take attendees to the National Cowboy Western Heritage Museum and to dinner at the Oklahoma History Center. Spouses of conference attendees will also enjoy an afternoon at the Pioneer Women Mercantile in Pawhuska.

The 87th Annual NASAO Convention and Trade Show has previously been held in Oklahoma three times, 1944, 1967, and 1997.  As the host state, the staff of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission helped organize the event, develop the sessions, and along with employees from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will volunteer throughout the conference. Bird, director of the Aeronautics Commission since 2002, and chairmen of NASAO in 2010, noted that he had always wanted to host a NASAO annual convention and that he was proud to show off our capital and aviation industry to his colleagues from around the country.