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April 15, 2010

2010 Texas Aviation Conference A Success

By Jay Carpenter – TXAA board of directors


The 2010 Texas Aviation Conference was held on April 7-9 at The Woodlands Resort in Houston. Over 450 attendees from across the state and nation attended what many are calling the most successful conference yet. The event was hosted by TxDOT Aviation, The Texas Airports Council and the Texas Aviation Association.


The first day was composed of registration at the Marriott hotel, exhibitor set up and a golf tournament followed by a social meet and greet in the exhibition hall.


The Program

The following two days was the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the conference. Following a continental breakfast, TxDOT Aviation Director David Fulton welcomed the general session to Houston followed by opening remarks by Texas Airports Council president Darci Neucil, and Texas Aviation Association board of director member Jay Carpenter. Fulton then gave his “State of Aviation” address where he listed his Top 10 requirements for a successful airport in Texas.

Fulton also introduced members of the Texas Aviation Advisory Committee which included president Gordon Richardson, Pete Huff, Robert Bruce, Michael Collier, Joe Crawford and Greg Jones.
FMI: https://www.dot.state.tx.us/public_involvement/aviation_advisory.htm

Other guest speakers included Anthony Tranumn from the Transportation Security Administration, Rob Hackman from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Chris Rozansky from the Collin County Regional Airport.

The Texas Airports Council held their annual meeting where new officers were elected. John Happ, Easterwood airport director, was elected as the new president of TAC. You can learn more about the TAC by visiting: http://www.texasairports.org

Henry Ogrodzinsky, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, addressed the audience about the FAA Reauthorization. Congress has extended present funding for only one more month but Henry said that the prospects were good that the long delayed FAA funding would eventually be authorized. FMI http://www.nasao.org 

The next speaker was Steve Brown, senior vice president of operations and administration with the National Business Aviation Association. Steve brought everyone up to speed about the current business aviation environment and general aviation as a whole. Find out about NBAA at http://www.nbaa.org

A major theme in this year’s conference was education with emphasis on young people. Mayor of DeSoto, Texas, Bobby Waddle and Michael Mallonee representative of the North Central Texas Council of Governments spoke about the importance of aviation education to the upcoming generation of pilots and technicians.

Michael A. Johnson Sr. of Mountain View College and Dr. Steve Swartz from the University of North Texas in Denton spoke more about the opportunities of aviation education in Texas. UNT is proud to offer a four-year degree program in aviation administration, the only program in the state of Texas.

Angie Oakes from the Coyote Flight Centers in Amarillo and Jasmine Gordon from the Calhoun Air Center in Port Lavaca presented recent programs they hosted to introduce kids to airport and aviation activities. They emphasized how important it is to get young kids involved with aviation related programs as early as possible.

FMI visit http://www.iflycfc.com

The Awards Banquet
On Thursday evening, the awards banquet was held.

Special awards were given out to kids who participated the 2010 International Aviation Art Contest The theme for the contest was “Flying with the Sun”. There were 904 entries and 64 schools from the State of Texas which included individual drawing and painting by young Americans between the ages of six and seventeen. The aim of the contest is to motivate and encourage children to study aeronautics, engineering and science.

The contest is sponsored by the National Aeronautic Association, supported by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in association with the National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Coalition for Aviation Education, and the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI),and National Business Aviation Association Inc. The NBAA is giving each winner a prize for their accomplishment.

The judges were: Michelle Hannah, TxDOT Aviation, Chris Sasser, Texas Transportation Institute and Stacy Schnettler, Texas Transportation Institute.

Steve Hadley with the National Business Aviation Association presented each child with their award.

In Category I, group ages six to nine, all the winners in this category attend Mary Help of Christians School located in Laredo, Texas. The third place winner was Maria Fernanda Campos, age 8. The second place winner was Tania Rives, age 8. The first place winner was Valeria Solis, age 7.


The second set of awards given out was for Category II, ages 10-13. The third place winner was Juan Pablo Arrigunaga, age 12 attends Mary Help of Christians School, Laredo Texas. The second place winner was Victoria Garcia, age 13 attends Mary Help of Christians School, Laredo Texas. The first place winner was Cayley Tapp, age 13. She is Home Schooled in Pampa, Texas, Cayley is the 3rd Place National Winner in Category II.


The third set of awards was given out is for Category III, ages 14-17. The third place winner was Emily Dunwoody, age 16 attends Calhoun High School, Port Lavaca, Texas. The second place winner was Cindy Ibarra, age 14 attends Clark Middle School in Laredo, Texas. The first place winner was Ismael Roman, age 15, attends Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. Ismael is also the third place National Winner in Category III.

Many thanks go to the participants and their families and art teachers for coming to the banquet and again congratulations to all.


A special scholarship award was given to by the Texas Airports Council board of directors to University of North Texas student Laura Rusnok. The fifteen hundred dollars is donated from the Juan Martinez Scholarship Fund.


Texas Airports Council Board of Directors and Laura Rusnok, University of North Texas student

L-R are: Dr. Stephen Swartz of the University of North Texas, Gary Hawkins of the Sugar Land Regional Airport, Ken Wiegand of the Collin County Regional Airport, Laura Rosnok from the University of North Texas, Darci Neuzil retiring president of the Texas Airports Council, John Happ manager of Easterwood Airport and newly elected president of TAC, and Hud Hopkins the airport director at Scholes International at Galveston airport.

Each year, TxDOT Aviation recognizes five categories which include: General Aviation Airport Manager of the Year; The Most Improved Airport Award, The Airport of the Year; The Reliever Airport of the Year; and The RAMP Coordinator of the Year. Presenting the awards was TxDOT Aviation Director, David Fulton.

The first award, for Airport Manager of the Year went to Jim Little. Fulton said, “Our airport manager of the year, a retired Air Force Colonel, received numerous medals and military decorations for his service and dedication to the United States Air Force. While in the air force, he served as a planner, administrator, and master instructor.

After retiring from the service, the colonel eventually found his way back home where he has been instrumental in maximizing usage of the facilities located on the old air force base grounds with an occupancy rate over 95%. As a committee chairperson for the air park development board, he worked with TxDOT Aviation to establish an outstanding air terminal facility. In his capacity as airport director, he worked with us to upgrade the 8800’ strip with an 11” slab of concrete which allows planes as large as 737 passenger jets to land at the facility.

He is a founding member of the air museum that honors the historic past of the bombardier base and is one of the organizers of the hugely successful base reunion which brings hundreds of visitors to the airport every year.

Through his efforts, his community can compete with Europe for the world championship hang gliding competition which attracts national and international recognition. He is the driving force – or flying force- behind the Young Eagles Program that gives young people the opportunity to fly in a light airplane.

In addition to his contributions to aviation, he is one of the nicest guys I know. He is always looking toward the future and has made his airport the outstanding facility it is today. I am proud to announce that our 2010 GENERAL AVIATION AIRPORT MANAGER OF THE YEAR is COLONEL JAMES F. “JIM” LITTLE - Big Spring McMahon-Wrinkle Airport.” Fulton then read a Resolution honoring Little from Representative Joe Heflin.


The next award went to the Reliever Airport of the Year. Fulton spoke, Our Reliever Airport of the Year 287 full-time jobs, a payroll of $8.8 million; and produces $58.4 million in total economic output.

The sponsor city has assisted in efforts to create a new four-year aviation program at a local university which was officially approved and announced last November and will graduate its first student in December. The university is working with flight schools at this reliever to provide flight training as part of the educational program.

The airport has been making flight safety improvements over the last year to include expanded Air Traffic Control hours, 16-hour tower operation, and a commitment by FAA to install RADAR equipment. The engineering phase is complete and land acquisition is in the final stages for a 1,000 foot runway extension which will improve flight safety. The runway extension will increase the capacity of the Texas Aviation System in the region which continues to experience year to year growth in jet operations.

Our award recipient has completed plans for taxiway extension and expansion. This $1.2 million project will provide access to more than 30 hangar pad sites and will provide needed development opportunities for an airport with more than 250 based aircraft and more than 150,000 operations per year.

Last year, airport business operators completed a total of $5 million in office, hangar, and maintenance facility construction totaling over 100,000 square feet. A second FBO was approved in 2009 to enhance the level of service the reliever airport can provide to the flying public.

The Texas Department of Transportation takes great pride in awarding DENTON MUNICIPAL AIRPORT the distinction of 2010 RELIEVER AIRPORT OF THE YEAR. Accepting the award was airport manager Quentin Hix.


Next in line for awards was the Most Improved Airport of the Year. Dave Fulton said, “2010 MOST IMPROVED AIRPORT OF THE YEAR

Fifteen years ago our Most Improved Airport of the Year’s pavement showed every bit of its 60 plus years in existence. Recognizing the potential of the airport, our airport sponsor established an airport advisory board and planned for fiscal support for airport improvements and grant match funding. With their master plan update, the sponsor, with their long term airport manager and the airport advisory board, became a formidable advocate for the airport.


The airport took advantage of the TxDOT Aviation Division terminal building grant program to construct a new terminal building with an expanded apron to make the transition from former training base to real airport. The airport then installed a new fuel system to serve increased itinerant traffic, new based jet aircraft and local turbo prop military activity. The airport funded construction of a 12-unit hangar with associated paving and parking apron to meet demand for more based aircraft hangar space.

The airport has taken advantage of the RAMP program to bridge the intervals between programmed CIP projects, as well as to preserve the investment made by TxDOT and the airport. Over the past ten years the airport budgeted to match grant funding to completely rehab all the airport pavement, replace runway lighting and approach aids, improve drainage, construct security fencing and gates, and complete a new ALP with an obstruction survey to support improved approaches for all runways.

Please join me in congratulating Aransas County – Rockport as the 2010 MOST IMPROVED AIRPORT OF THE YEAR. Accepting the award was Eugene Johnson, airport manager.***


The award for General Aviation Airport of the Year was then announced. Fulton said, “Our 2010 General Aviation Airport of the Year was nominated for several reasons. They have developed an Airport Management System which welcomes input and volunteerism, works in cooperation with their Airport Board, elected officials, business and industry, and other interested parties to ensure continued progress.

The last year has seen the conclusion of a research project conducted by the United States Department of the Navy. Following a long search for an airfield conducive for a testing ground, the navy determined this airport had exceptional qualities making the airport an ideal testing ground. Rear Admiral, Nevin Carr, Jr. noted that the exceptionally well-maintained conference facilities, availability of Jet-A fuel, and superb support provided by airport staff were key components of choosing the airport for the naval testing project.

Three new hangars are being built to further their progress and the airport board has committed themselves to an aggressive maintenance and improvement program utilizing RAMP and local TxDOT personnel expertise to establish a first class vegetation management program. TxDOT forces also provide sweeping of all pavement areas; crack seals; and ditch and drainage structure maintenance; as well as pavement maintenance.

With continued enthusiasm and cooperation, this airport will experience a very exciting future.  For our 2010 GENERAL AVIATION AIRPORT OF THE YEAR, please help me congratulate Wayne Collins and John Wisdom, Airport Board members, for the Wood County Airport.”


Finally, the RAMP Coordinator Award was given. RAMP stands for Routine Airport Maintenance Program and is a vital service to keep Texas airports in top condition. Dave Fulton said, “This year, the Aviation Division recognizes two RAMP Coordinators for their combined efforts to improve airports in their district. Both have devoted their time and resources to significantly improve their district airports. They have worked together over the years to epitomize the philosophy of RAMP.

Unfortunately, we lost one of our award recipients to TxDOT’s regionalization efforts. At the time of his transfer to the Regional Office, he had been working with 4 airports to improve pavements and herbicide with district forces. Our other recipient not only jumped right in to make sure the planned improvements were made, he also began working with other airport sponsors in their district in planning improvements. Together, they were responsible for coordinating efforts to improve pavements at 7 airports in their district in the last year. They’ve worked with other airports in their district to provide guidance while planning future projects.

These two men share similarities - both are 31 year veterans of TxDOT; both have devoted their time and energy to Emergency Management, and both are highly respected with an outstanding work ethic and dedication to their positions. Together, the two coordinators formed a great team which became highly respected by the airport sponsors in their district.

One of our co-recipients is an original RAMP Coordinator who helped implement the program in his district. His years of maintenance expertise and knowledge are a strong compliment to the RAMP program. His duties also included supervising his successor coordinator - our other award recipient.

Our other co-recipient was named Project Director of the Year in 2005 for his outstanding efforts in Pavements Research and in 2008 he was awarded the Extra Mile Award for risking his own life to assist the victim of an automobile accident. He carried on the duties of RAMP Coordinator for his district the past 8 years. He is well respected by other RAMP Coordinators and was always available to assist them as well as all TxDOT Aviation staff.

These men are to be commended for their time, dedication and commitment to excellent service. Their involvement and accomplishments are to be applauded.

We are honored to award the 2010 RAMP COORDINATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD to TED MOORE, Director of Maintenance, and TRACY CUMBY, Assistant Regional Director Support Operations.”

The next Texas Aviation Conference is scheduled to occur in May, 2011 at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin, Texas.

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