Tireless Campaigner For Sooner State's Aerospace Industry
Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission,
was named the 2009 recipient of the prestigious General Thomas P.
Stafford Award during the eighth annual Oklahoma Aerospace Summit
and Expo June 15-18 in Tulsa.
The award, named after Oklahoma native and retired astronaut
Gen. Tom Stafford, is awarded to an individual who has made a
significant contribution to the Oklahoma aerospace industry and who
honors the pioneering spirit shown by Gen. Stafford.
"I am very honored and humbled. Just being mentioned in the same
breath as the other nominees, that in itself is an honor to me,"
Bird said during his acceptance speech before an audience of
approximately 1,000 key industry leaders. "I know all those
gentlemen, and they are giants in this industry."
"Vic's leadership, personal involvement and commitment have
influenced the growth of Oklahoma's aerospace industry," said Lt.
Gov. Jari Askins, who presented Bird with the Stafford Award. "His
efforts have helped Oklahoma gain recognition as a nationwide
Bird has guided the Aeronautics Commission since becoming its
director in December 2002 and has tirelessly campaigned for the
state's aviation and aerospace industry. He continually promotes
Oklahoma's aerospace industry and has drafted numerous bills aimed
at improving the competitive advantage of Oklahoma aerospace.
Recognizing the aerospace sector is facing a critical shortage
of engineering and technical talent, Bird championed House Bill
3239 which was passed and signed into law following the 2008 state
legislative session. Often referred to as the Aerospace Industry
Engineer Workforce Bill, HB 3239 provides state tax credits to new
engineers hired by Oklahoma aerospace companies as well as state
tax credits to the companies that hire those engineers.
When HB 3239 ran into some opposition late in the session, Bird
said that he contacted Gen. Stafford who later met him at the state
Capitol where they visited with legislators about the bill's
"That's just how he is. He still gives back to this state even
after all he has already done and accomplished," Bird said.
Bird was a driving force behind the formation of Governor Brad
Henry's Aerospace Task Force in 2004, which resulted in several
recommendations to foster the growth of the industry. He is a key
member of Economic Development Generating Excellence aerospace team
where he provides advocacy for aerospace businesses with state and
federal agencies. He wholeheartedly supports aviation education by
providing funding to several key aviation programs and academies
across the state, including CareerTech's Aerospace Internship
Bird is vice chairman of the executive committee for the
National Association of State Aviation Officials and will be the
first Oklahoman to become chairman of the prestigious aviation
organization on Oct. 1. He is an active member of the Governor's
Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the University
of Oklahoma's Aviation Advisory Board. He was recently appointed to
the Finance Working Group that has been given the task of creating
a development strategy for Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World
This marks just the second year for the Stafford Award. Bob
Conner, former director of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center
who now serves as executive director for the Oklahoma Aerospace
Institute, a program that Bird helped to create, was the first
recipient of the award in 2008.