Recognizes Pilots, Government Official For Efforts On Behalf Of
AOPA handed out four awards on the final day of its annual
event in Long Beach, CA.
The Joseph B. "Doc" Hartranft, Jr. Award went to Victor Bird,
director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. The Joseph B.
"Doc" Hartranft, Jr. Award is presented annually to an elected or
appointed government official, whether federal, state, local, or
foreign, who has made significant contributions to the advancement
of general aviation. "State aviation directors are often overlooked
as key promoters and protectors of general aviation," said AOPA
President and CEO Craig L. Fuller. "As the director of the Oklahoma
Aeronautics Commission, Vic Bird has done an outstanding job in
using the state's resources to advance the cause of the state's 113
public airports, creating a climate in which general aviation will
grow and thrive."
In 2007, Bird was instrumental in winning support for the
Oklahoma Airport Modernization Bill, which would have made 49 of
the state's regional airports eligible for grants for specific
airport-improvement projects, including the costs for projects
primarily used for general aviation.
In 2008, he followed that with the Aerospace Industry Engineer Work
Force Bill, which provided new engineers with a $5,000 state tax
credit for choosing to work for an Oklahoma aerospace company, and
also provides state tax credits for the companies that hire them.
He also lead the push for 2005's House Bill 1577, which exempted
aircraft maintenance, repairs, and overhauls performed by Oklahoma
aerospace companies from sales tax.
His most recent accomplishment centered on the passage in 2010
of the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, which protects
the state's public-use airports and military bases from height
obstructions and incompatible land use by giving the Oklahoma
Aeronautics Commission authority to regulate construction in
designated approach areas. With the increasing prevalence of tall
man-made obstructions all over the country, this legislation
provides a model for other states to follow to ensure that
development of this nature will not undermine aviation safety.
The Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award went to Marjy Leggett,
a volunteer for AOPA's Airport Support Network, for her efforts to
promote and protect her home Airport, Vista Field in Kennewick,
Washington. The Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award is presented
annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to
the advancement of general aviation.
When, in 2008, the city of Kennewick began exploring how best to
use the airport land, including possibly closing the airport,
Leggett rallied fellow pilots and other airport supporters to prove
to the city that keeping Vista Field open was the best option.
The situation at Vista Field was complex. Although located
within the City of Kennewick, the airport is owned and operated by
a separate governmental body, the Port of Kennewick. Leggett
solicited help from other pilots, forming a local chapter of the
Washington Pilots Association, and organized local business leaders
to explain to city officials just how important the airport is to
those businesses. Their community education efforts led to the
election of a number of aviation-friendly City and Port candidates,
and ultimately to a unanimous vote this year by the Port of
Kennewick Commission to keep the airport open.
A self-described "Mooney Girl" is this year's recipient of the
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA's) Joseph Crotti
Award for service to general aviation (GA) in California. Jolie
Lucas, founder of the Mooney Ambassadors, was honored for her work
to protect Oceano Airport (L52) in San Luis Obispo County.
A local developer decided he had a better idea of how to use the
land Oceano sits on and, over the objections of county officials,
pressed ahead with highly controlled "public" meetings to try to
win community support to close the airport and let him build on it.
Lucas organized local pilots to attend those public meetings. With
her encouragement and constant communication with pilots and AOPA,
the developer's meetings were overwhelmingly stacked against
closure of the airport. She recruited pilots and began a campaign
to win community support, organizing a beautification project for
the airport, which had become somewhat rundown. Buildings were
painted and drought tolerant plants planted, all with volunteers
and donated materials. She and her fellow pilots also hosted a
"movie night" at the airport, inviting pilots and the public to
watch movies in a camp ground adjacent to the airport.
Finally, the second annual Let's Go Flying Award went to U.S.
Marine Corps Captain Gabriel Glinsky for his efforts to organize
and teach a ground school for his fellow unit members while on
active duty in Afghanistan.
In 2009 while serving in Afghanistan, Capt. Glinsky, a V-22
"Osprey" tiltrotor pilot and certificated flight instructor (CFI),
volunteered to teach ground school for more than a dozen fellow
Marines. His students, mostly enlisted Marines, had expressed an
interest in learning to fly once they returned to the U.S., so
Glinsky offered to help them prepare to take the FAA knowledge
tests for Sport and Private Pilot certificates. He contacted AOPA
for assistance in gathering the necessary materials. The Let's Go
Flying Award is presented annually to a person who has made
significant efforts to draw new people into flying.