NORMAN — Norman’s 11th annual Aviation Festival takes flight today at Max Westheimer Airport, 1700 Lexington Ave.
A breakfast was hosted Friday morning to kick off the festivities which continue starting at 9 a.m. today. University of Oklahoma Aviation Program Director Ken Carson said the festival is a great way to promote community outreach and encourage people to take to the air.
“We want to ensure that children and others have the chance to learn about aviation and the opportunities it holds,” he said.
The breakfast featured keynote speaker Mark Baker, president and CEO of Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot Association who called flying one life’s great experiences.
“It can be for purposes of recreation, growing a business or even a potential career,” he said.
Baker spoke about general aviation, as opposed to commercial air services, and how helpful it can be in many areas, such as disaster relief.
“We have all seen the damage Hurricane Harvey caused several places in Texas,” Baker said. “General aviation has been at the forefront of helping people in remote areas where cars and boats may not be able to get to.”
According to an Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission survey, general aviation airports were near the top of the list in helping Oklahoma businesses. With a rating of 7.2 out of 10, general aviation airports are just below reasonable tax rates and incentives and above suppliers, research/development centers and urban business districts.
“The ability to incorporate an aviation infrastructure is important to developing potential new businesses,” OAC spokesperson Grayson Ardies said. “We want people to see the economic impact general aviation has on a community like Norman.”
Longtime festival attendee and former state Rep. Scott Martin said he’s attended the festival for about the last 15 years, and he wasn’t going to miss it this year. Martin now serves as Norman Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
“I’ve been really religious about attending it over the years,” he said. “There’s always top-notch speakers that come. You always leave learning something new.”
The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today. Admission and parking are free. The festival will include an open house, aircraft static displays and a children’s activity area.