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April 21, 2008

2008 Texas Aviation Conference A Huge Success

The 26th annual Texas Aviation conference was held at the Renaissance Austin Hotel on April 15th – 17th in Austin, Texas. Events included a golf tournament, bowling tournament, receptions, trade show, general session presentations, workshops, awards banquet and tons of food! The TAC is sponsored by the Aviation Division of the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Airport Management Association and the Texas Aviation Association.

Information lectures to the general assembly:  The conference was opened by TxDOT Aviation Director David Fulton, TAMA President Tim O’Krongley, and TXAA Secretary Jay Carpenter.  Approximately 500 attendees enjoyed a variety of lectures including airport security issues, maintenance, upcoming airport projects.  Andrew Perry, Director of Houston Executive Airport gave a summary of his new airport in Katy, Texas and the upcoming renovation of Bird’s Nest Airport (hopefully to be renamed Austin Executive) near Manor, Texas. Aviation enthusiast Ron Henriksen is the owner of both airports.   Steve Hadley of the National Business Aviation Association, and Shelly Lesikar deZevallos from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association delivered an informative lecture on airport security.  There was even a Q&A session with Mike Nicely of the Federal Aviation Administration.

David Fulton, TxDot Aviation Director

Tim O'Krongley, TAMA President

Jay Carpenter, TXAA Secretary

David Fulton Tim O’Krongley Jay Carpenter
TxDOT Aviation Director TAMA President TXAA Secretary

Workshops:  Workshops included topics like Wildlife Management at airports, Risk Management and Insurance for Municipal Airports, Airport lighting and troubleshooting, and whether to use concrete or asphalt.

The Awards Banquet:  At the awards banquet, guests were fed a delicious meal followed by presentations. The banquet was hosted by Dave Fulton, Director of TxDOT Aviation. The golf tournament was won by TxDOT Director, Dave Fulton’s group (a coincidence?).

The Routine Airport Maintenance Program Coordinator award went to Mike Reagan of the Tyler District. RAMP Coordinators are TXDOT district designated employees who work with the Aviation Division to provide assistance to airports in their respective districts. The RAMP program began as a pilot program in 1996 with five districts and twenty one airports. Today, the program is supported by all 25 TxDOT districts and is available to nearly 300 airports statewide.

The Most Improved Airport award went to Del Rio International Airport. This facility received strong support from the local community and government. In 2002, a new 5000’ x 100’ runway was constructed. Substantial local funds went to construct a new terminal building to provide their customers with a first class facility. Also, a new fire station was constructed on site.

The 2008 Airport of the Year title was awarded to Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport in Temple, Texas. The airport he airport has a precision approach with an ILS, a current capital improvement project in the works to extend the primary runway to 7,000 feet, a defense fuel military contract, and airport based businesses that support charter operations, flight instruction, aircraft maintenance, and corporate operations. The city is the primary FBO at the airport and offers full line service, building, airfield and grounds maintenance as well as aircraft rescue and fire fighting.   In 2006 the airport 100% funded an effort to complete a 50,000 square foot hangar facility to enhance the operations of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command operation providing over 200 highly skilled jobs to the their city.

The 2008 GENERAL AVIATION AIRPORT MANAGER OF THE YEAR award went to Paul Henderson of the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport. The criteria for becoming airport manager of the year include: Does this manager’s airport present a positive impression to users? Are they knowledgeable in aviation and airport matters? Do they provide a high level of service to users of the airport? And, most importantly, is this person a good advocate for their airport? Paul Henderson certainly fills the bill on all counts.

The 2008 Reliever Airport Manager of the Year award went to Ken Wiegand of the Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas. These reliever airports are facilities that are rapidly becoming the airport of choice for corporations doing business in Texas. Ken has served as his city's airport director since 2002. He began his efforts by updating the Airport Master Plan, planning an aggressive $71 million capital improvement program that includes construction of a planned replacement runway and replacement control tower, construction of three new taxi lanes, and the opening of more than 100 acres of land for airport development.

A new category was added to the program this year, that of Aviator of the Year. Being the initial recipient of this award had to go to a very unique pilot and promoter of General Aviation. This year’s award went to Wayne Collins of Mineola, Texas. In 1986, Wayne became a member of the Earthrounders, along with six other Bonanza owners. They made a trip around the world flying in loose formation. Another round the world trip followed in 1990.

M.C. Dave Fulton said, “Beginning 25 years ago, Collins was instrumental in the establishment of a new airport for his county. Since that time he has lead the effort for every one of the many improvements made to his airport including a runway extension to 4000 feet, a new parallel taxiway, a new terminal building, and an automated weather system. He began an annual airport recognition day. Presently, this annual celebration attracts some 75 to 100 leaders of his community including his state representative.” Wayne Collins is a graduate of Rice University, a veteran of World War II, and is a commercial pilot with an instrument rating.

The next Texas Aviation Conference is scheduled for May 11, 12, and 13, 2009 at the downtown Hilton Hotel in Austin, Texas. TAC 2010 is scheduled for The Woodlands Marriott in Houston, Texas. The plan is to host the event every other year in Austin.



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